3

Matthew 5–7

“Lesson 3: Matthew 5–7,” New Testament Teacher Manual (2018)


Introduction and Timeline

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) spoke of the Sermon on the Mount and the Galilean hillside where it took place: “Here it was that the greatest person who ever lived delivered the greatest sermon ever given—the Sermon on the Mount” (“The Way Home,” Ensign, May 1975, 15). As the Savior began His Galilean ministry, He declared that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and then in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5–7) taught doctrines and principles of righteousness that govern the lives of those who belong to His kingdom and lead to happiness and eventual perfection.

At the conclusion of the sermon, “the people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28–29; see similar sermons in Luke 6:17–49 and 3 Nephi 12–14). In other words, the people were astonished by what He said and by how He said it. He did not teach by citing precedent or previous authority, as the scribes and rabbis did. He taught as one having the authority of God Himself.

lesson 3 timeline

Chapter Overviews

Matthew 5

Jesus Christ began His Sermon on the Mount by teaching the Beatitudes. He declared that the law of Moses was fulfilled and taught the righteous way of life that leads to becoming perfect like Heavenly Father.

Matthew 6

The Savior continued the Sermon on the Mount, teaching how to pray, fast, and serve others. He taught His disciples to place love of God over the cares of the world.

Matthew 7

Jesus Christ concluded the Sermon on the Mount, teaching that the way to eternal life is narrow and that those who enter into the kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of Father in Heaven.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 5:1–12

The Beatitudes

To help students understand the context of the Sermon on the Mount, have a student read Matthew 4:25 and Matthew 5:1. Explain that Matthew 5 is a continuation of Matthew 4.

Ask students a few questions like these: “What brings you happiness? When have you been really happy? Why did you feel happy? What is true happiness? Would you be interested if you came across a speech by the Creator of the universe titled ‘Keys to Happiness’? Why?”

Have students skim through Matthew 5:1–12, looking for how most of the verses begin. Explain that in Matthew 5, the word blessed means “happy.” Explain that these verses are often called the Beatitudes, and share the following definitions of the Beatitudes with your class:

“The Latin beatus is the basis of the English ‘beatitude,’ meaning ‘to be fortunate,’ ‘to be happy,’ or ‘to be blessed’” (Matthew 5:3, footnote a).

“Name given to certain declarations of blessedness in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3–11; Luke 6:20–22). They describe certain elements that go to form the refined and spiritual character, all of which will be present whenever that character exists in its perfection. Rather than being isolated statements, the Beatitudes are interrelated and progressive in their arrangement” (Bible Dictionary, “Beatitudes”).

To help students see this progressive arrangement of the Beatitudes, have them read Matthew 5:3 and 3 Nephi 12:3 and ask:

  • Why do you think the attribute of being “poor in spirit” is first in the Beatitudes? (We must recognize our spiritual need before we can make progress toward Father in Heaven.)

  • What important phrase does the Book of Mormon add to this Beatitude? Why do you think the phrase “who come unto me” is an important addition?

Assign students as individuals, pairs, or small groups to study one or more of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12 and 3 Nephi 12:3–12 and any related material in the student manual. Ask them to ponder how coming unto Christ helps us to develop the attribute they studied and to receive the promised blessing. While the students are discussing the Beatitudes, you could write notes on the board like the following, showing the attributes to be developed and the blessings that are promised:

Matthew 5; 3 Nephi 12

Attribute

Promised Blessing

Verse 3

Humility

Entrance into the kingdom

Verse 4

Mourning and penitence

Comfort and forgiveness

Verse 5

Meekness

Promise of celestial glory

Verse 6

Seeking righteousness

Gift of the Holy Ghost

Verse 7

Merciful

Mercy and forgiveness

Verse 8

Pure in heart

See God

Verse 9

Peacemakers

Children of God, heirs

Verses 10–12

Enduring opposition in this life

Great reward in heaven

Ask:

  • As you look at this list, what do you see that shows how the Beatitudes are interrelated and reflect a progression of coming unto Christ and becoming more like Him?

  • From your experience, how has living one of the Beatitudes increased your level of happiness?

Encourage students to consider which of the Beatitudes they most need to improve in and commit to work on this attribute during the coming week or month. As you teach the remainder of Matthew 5–7, you might encourage students to consider how the Beatitudes are connected to the rest of what the Savior taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Ask students to consider this principle: Applying the principles taught in the Beatitudes helps us to come unto Christ and to obtain greater happiness. Ask them to share ways in which they have seen the truth of this principle.

Matthew 5:17–48

Jesus Christ Taught Us How to Become Like Heavenly Father

Ask students: “If there was any advice or counsel you could offer your fellow students about how to return home to Heavenly Father, what would that advice be?”

Help establish the context of this scripture block by asking students to read Matthew 5:17, 48. Jesus taught that He came to fulfill the law, and He also taught that the ultimate purpose of His teachings was to help us become like Father in Heaven.

List the following scriptures on the board:

Matthew 5:21–26

Matthew 5:27–32

Matthew 5:33–37

Matthew 5:38–42

Matthew 5:43–47

Explain to students that in each of these passages from Matthew 5, Jesus Christ referred to a law or custom people were familiar with, and then He taught a higher principle that gave correct understanding of the law or custom. In this way, He taught that the gospel of Jesus Christ was greater than the laws and customs of Moses’s dispensation. Explain that you will ask students to study one of the scriptures listed and then ask them to report the following to the class:

  1. The law or custom that the people had heard.

  2. The principle Jesus Christ taught.

  3. How living that principle helps us become more like Heavenly Father.

  4. A brief experience illustrating how the principle has helped you (if desired).

To help students better understand this assignment, study the first scripture as a class. Have a student read Matthew 5:21–26 aloud, and then guide students in identifying the answers to the four items. (1. The law was “Thou shalt not kill.” 2. The higher or more complete principle was that we should choose not to become angry or treat people with contempt. 3. The principle can help us become more like Heavenly Father because He is loving and sees the worth of each soul. 4. You might tell about a time when you chose not to become angry.)

Divide your class into small groups or pairs. Assign each group to study one of the four remaining blocks of scripture listed on the board. After students have had time to read and consult with each other, have groups share their responses with the class.

For additional analysis and discussion of Matthew 5, you might ask:

  • How could one or more of the Beatitudes help us live the principles the Savior taught in Matthew 5:21–48? (Possible answers: Being meek can help us not to become angry with others. Being pure in heart can help us not to lust after others. Being willing to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake can help us to turn the other cheek. Being a peacemaker can help us to love our enemies.)

Have students look in Matthew 5:48 for what might be the most difficult commandment that the Savior ever gave.

  • What commandment did Jesus give in this verse?

  • How might someone feel when first reading this verse?

Have students read 1 Nephi 3:7 and Philippians 4:13.

  • What do these scriptures teach about the Savior’s command to be perfect?

Ask a student to read the statement by President Russell M. Nelson in the student manual commentary for Matthew 5:48.

  • How does this statement encourage you in your quest for eventual perfection?

Explain to students that in Matthew 5 we learn this principle: By following the teachings of Jesus Christ, we can become like our Father in Heaven. Testify that with the help of the Lord, we can fulfill all of God’s commandments. Although we will not achieve perfection in this life, we can strive for perfection and actually become perfect in many commandments while in mortality. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, becoming perfect like our Father in Heaven is possible in the eternities (see Moroni 10:32–33; D&C 67:13; 76:69).

Matthew 6:1–18; 7:7–11

The Savior Discoursed on Worshipping the Father

Explain that as recorded in Matthew 6, the Savior taught important principles about how to worship the Father, including by praying, by fasting, and by serving others. Have students make a brief list on the board of various reasons why people might pray, fast, or serve others. Ask one-third of your class to read Matthew 6:1–4, another third to read verses 5–6, and another third to read verses 16–18. Have each student look for what counsel the Savior gave concerning our worship.

video iconInstead of the group activity just described, consider showing the video “Sermon on the Mount: The Lord’s Prayer” (2:18) from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos, available at LDS.org. This video covers Matthew 6:1–13. Before you show the video, encourage students to follow along in their scriptures, beginning at Matthew 6:1, and to look for what Jesus taught about sincere worship. At the conclusion of the video, continue with the teaching suggestions as indicated.

 

Ask several individuals to report what they learned about worship. Then ask the following question:

  • How would you summarize in your own words what the Savior taught in all three of these blocks of scripture? (As students share their ideas, make sure they understand this principle: God will reward those who worship Him with sincerity and love. Consider writing this principle on the board.)

To further clarify and apply this principle, read the quotation by President Dallin H. Oaks in the student manual commentary for Matthew 6:1–4. Then ask:

  • How can a person determine if he or she worships God and serves others “for the love of God and the love of his children”?

  • What should motivate our worship—including our praying, fasting, service, and payment of tithing and fast offerings?

Have one student read Matthew 6:22–23 and another student read the student manual commentary for Matthew 6:22. Ask the following question to briefly discuss what these sources teach that can help our worship be more acceptable to God:

  • In what way do these verses and the commentary help you as you evaluate the way you worship God?

To help students further see how prayer can be a more meaningful worship experience, have one student read Matthew 6:7–8 and another student read the student manual commentary for Matthew 6:7. Ask:

  • How did Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin define vain repetitions?

  • What suggestions did Elder Wirthlin give for helping us remove vain repetitions from our prayers?

Explain to your students that we can learn additional truths regarding our worship by studying the prayers of the Savior recorded in the scriptures. Have students identify the first six words in Matthew 6:9. (“After this manner therefore pray ye.”) Ask:

Invite students to silently read Matthew 6:9–13 (sometimes referred to as the Lord’s Prayer) and Matthew 7:7, looking for what we can learn about how to pray. After students have had sufficient time to read and ponder, discuss their findings. Some principles that should come out in the discussion include:

You might conclude this portion of the lesson by asking questions such as the following:

  • What have you done to show reverence and respect to Heavenly Father in your prayers? How has showing reverence and respect toward Heavenly Father in your prayers affected your prayers?

  • What do the words ask, seek, and knock teach you about effective prayer?

  • What can we do to better align our desires with the Lord’s will? What have you done to better align your life with the Lord’s will?

Matthew 6:19–34

Seeking First the Kingdom of God

Explain to students that in Matthew 6:19–34, the phrase “take no thought” (or a variation of it) is mentioned several times (see Matthew 6:25, 27–28, 31, 34). This phrase means, “Do not be overly anxious or worried.” Give students time to silently read Matthew 6:19–34, looking for two or three verses that they feel emphasize the main ideas the Savior taught. Invite several students to share which verses they selected and why they selected them. To further analyze the ideas that the students find, you could ask questions like the following:

  • According to the Savior’s teachings, what types of things should we not be overly anxious about?

  • What are some examples of laying up treasures in heaven?

  • What is the relationship between laying up treasures in heaven and seeking the kingdom of God? (As students share their responses, make sure they understand this principle: If we are seeking first the kingdom of God, heavenly concerns take priority over earthly concerns. You could write this principle on the board.)

Read or ask a student to read the quotation by President Ezra Taft Benson in the student manual commentary for Matthew 6:33.

  • How does putting God first in our lives cause other priorities to fall into their proper place?

Invite students to share experiences when they have felt less anxiety or worry because they chose to make the kingdom of God a higher priority in their lives. You might ask them to tell about challenges they faced in making this choice, what other activities became less important, and how the Lord blessed them when they made Him and His kingdom their first priority.

Matthew 7:21–29

Doing the Will of the Father

Write the following sentences on the board:

To enter the kingdom of heaven, it is not enough to .
I must also .

Assign half of your class to read Matthew 7:21–23 and the other half to read verses 24–27. Have students verbally fill in the blanks in the sentence on the board, based on the scriptures they read. As students share their reports, this principle should be emphasized: Those who enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of the Father.

As you conclude the lesson, encourage students to take a minute or two and write how they might better live one or more teachings discussed in class today. To help students apply these teachings, ask if any class members might be willing to share what they have written.