We begin our study of Christ’s direct teaching with a two-part discussion of the Sermon on the Mount: Christ’s elaborate sermon recorded in Matthew 5–7. The sermon was a teaching on living in the image of God, which we have also described as “positive human interaction:” i.e., living and interacting with people for the purpose of representing God in everything we do and accomplishing the objectives for which he created us. The sermon consists of two parts. In the first part, he provides the principles of living in the image of God. In this study, we identify the principles as eight steps, which are described in the bible as the Beatitudes. In the second part, he describes specific examples of application of the principles.
THE BEATITUDES Part 1 of our two-part discussion focuses on the Beatitudes: the first part of the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes describe eight steps (or principles) for living in the image of God. The first three Beatitudes describe human relationship with God, the third through eighth describe human interactions, with an overlap in the third Beatitude because it applies to both human relationship with God and human interactions.
The angel that foretold the birth of John the Baptist said of him [Luke 1:16–17]: “He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” We examine the message of John the Baptist in this bible study, to understand his approach to his mission and how his teaching applies to present-day human interaction. The state of human interaction as he saw it was dominated by predator-versus-prey type relationships, whereby people sought to cheat others if they could. He preached a message of repentance [Matthew 3:2; Luke 3:3], that people had to repent from the life of preying on each other and turn to God’s ways in order to be acceptable into God’s kingdom. We examine other parts of the Scripture to understand that “God’s ways” refers to a state of human interaction characterized by mutual provider-receiver relationships, in which every person is a conveyor of the image of God and a channel for God’s compassion.
BIBLE STUDY SERIES ON THE GOSPEL This is the first session in a Banking Blessings Ministry bible study series focused on the gospel. In the series, we study the life and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The objective is to use information from his life and teaching to improve our understanding of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships.
STUDY SESSION ON BIRTH OF JESUS In this session of the series, we examine God’s interactions with Mary and Joseph regarding the birth of Jesus to learn his purpose for parent-child relationships. Through the study, we learn that parenthood is an appointment from God. He may choose to convey the appointment through biological or non-biological means, but the choice does not affect the nature or significance of the parent-child relationships. For example, God assigned fatherhood of Jesus to Joseph, a descendant of Abraham through David, and through the appointment fulfilled his promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” [Genesis 12:3]. Also, we learn that when God presents an opportunity, he allows the recipient freedom to accept or decline the opportunity.