President Joseph Fielding Smith called the Sermon on the Mount “greatest [sermon] that was ever preached” Martin Luther called the Sermon on the Mount “the devil’s masterpiece” because in his opinion “the devil so masterfully distorts and perverts Christ’s true meaning through his Apostle [Matthew] especially in the fifth chapter.”
Which one do you believe, President Smith or Martin Luther?
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The footnotes tell us that blessed means happy or fortunate. How can it be fortunate to be poor in spirit?
“…the Book of Mormon sermon added the phrase ‘who come unto me…’ Obviously in the 3 Nephi rendering, being poor in spirit is not in itself a virtue, but it will be so if such humility brings one to claim the blessings of the kingdom through the waters of baptism, making covenants, and moving toward all the promises given to covenant-making disciples. It is significant that the phrase ‘come unto me’ is used at least four more times in the twenty or so verses that follow this one.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 263)
Robert E Wells wrote: “To be poor in spirit means to be humble, teachable, contrite, meek, obedient.
Verse 4 Blessed are they that mourn.
How can it be fortunate to mourn? One reason is given in 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. Robert E. Wells suggests another reason:
“Since mourning is so universal, the Lord must have a purpose for having us experience it. There is no doubt but that he softens and molds us and touches us most deeply when we are mourning.” (The Mount and the Master, p. 20)
Verse 5 Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
How will the meek inherit the earth? What does that mean?
Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“This earth is going to become a celestial body and is going to be a fit abode for celestial beings only; the others will have to go somewhere else, where they belong. This earth will be reserved for those who are entitled to exaltation, and they are the meek, spoken of by our Savior, who shall inherit the earth. When the Lord said the meek shall inherit the earth, He had reference to those who are willing to keep the commandments of the Lord in righteousness and thus receive exaltation.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 28)
Verse 6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.
Filled with what? – 3 Nephi 12:6 tells us ‘with the Holy Ghost.’
Russell M. Nelson related:
“I was with Elder Mark E. Petersen in the Holy Land in October 1983, during his last mortal journey. Elder Petersen was not well. Evidences of his consuming malignancy were painfully real to him, yet he derived strength from the Savior he served. Following a night of intense suffering, exacerbated by pangs of his progressive inability to eat or to drink, Elder Petersen addressed throngs assembled at the Mount of the Beatitudes to hear his discourse on the Sermon on the Mount. After he recited ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness,’ he departed from the biblical text and pleaded this question: ‘Do you know what it is to be really hungry? Do you know what it is to really be thirsty? Do you desire righteousness as you would desire food under extreme conditions or drink under extreme conditions? [The Savior] expects us to literally hunger and thirst after righteousness and seek it with all our hearts!’
“I was one of the few present on that occasion who knew how hungry and thirsty Elder Petersen really was. His encroaching cancer had deprived him of relief from physical hunger and thirst, so he understood that doctrine. He withstood the trial. He thanked the Lord, who lent him power to preach his last major sermon at the sacred site where Jesus himself had preached.” (The Power Within Us, p. 21)
Verse 7 Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy
Our salvation rests upon the mercy we show to others (Harold B Lee)
Verse 8 Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Bruce R. McConkie said:
“We have the power—and it is our privilege—so to live, that becoming pure in heart, we shall see the face of God while we yet dwell as mortals in a world of sin and sorrow.
“This is the crowning blessing of mortality. It is offered by that God who is no respecter of persons to all the faithful in his kingdom.‘Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.’(D&C 93:1.)”(Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p. 52)
Verse 9 Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God
Bruce R. McConkie again:
“The gospel of peace makes men ! Christ came to bring peace-peace on earth and good will to men. His gospel gives peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come. He is the Prince of peace. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them who preach the gospel of peace, who say unto Zion: The God reigneth! Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with his saints. By this shall all men know the Lord’s disciples: They are peacemakers; they seek to compose difficulties; they hate war and love peace; they invite all men to forsake evil, overcome the world, flee from avarice and greed, stand in holy places, and receive for themselves that peace which passeth understanding, that peace which comes only by the power of the Spirit.” (The Mortal Messiah, Book 2, p. 123)
Verse 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Joseph Smith taught:
“Those who cannot endure persecution, and stand in the day of affliction, cannot stand in the day when the Son of God shall burst the veil, and appear in all the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 42)