Topic 6: The Sermon On The Mount


Step 4: Teacher goes further to discuss with students



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Step 4: Teacher goes further to discuss with students:

  • If you lived in Jesus’ times, what kind of life would the Jews expect you to live? Explain.

The Background of the Sermon on the Mount Activity Two 2-2


  • Among the different expectations of happy life of the Jews, which of them were worth pursuing? Why?

  • Among the different ways of pursuing happiness suggested by the Jews, which of them were worth learning? What were the merits of these ways?


Step 5: Teacher summarises:

  • The Jews had experienced the downfall of their country and had been taken captive for around 400 years. Since the Jews were ruled by foreign powers during that period, they longed for liberty and independence.

  • The Jews’ expectations of a happy life were closely related to the political, social, and religious background at that time.

  • Different Jewish sects had diverse expectations of happiness due to their distinct social positions. Each of these Jewish sects pursued distinctive satisfaction in political and religious life under the Roman rule.

The Background of the Sermon on the Mount Activity Three 2-1




Activity Three




Enquiry Questions

Generic Skills

Values and Attitudes

How did Jesus interpret a happy life? How was his interpretation different from those of the Jewish sects?

Creativity, critical thinking skills, collaboration skills, communication skills, problem solving skills

Truth, liberty, human dignity, common good, caring


Teaching Steps:

Step 1: Teacher points out:

  • Different Jewish sects had diverse expectations and understandings of happiness.

  • Similarly, Jesus had his own understanding of happiness.


Step 2: Teacher asks:

  • How did Jesus interpret a happy life? What are the differences between the expectations of a happy life at Jesus’ times and at present?


Step 3: Teacher carries out the ‘Different to Each Other’ activity. Ask students to compare and contrast Jesus’ understandings of a happy life with that of the Jews at that time.

  • Teacher hands out Students’ Reference: Material 3 (Jesus’ Understanding of a Happy Life) and introduces Jesus’ understanding of a happy life to students.

  • Teacher divides students into groups of four and hands out Worksheet 2 (Compare and Contrast Jesus’ Understanding of a Happy Life with that of the Jews). Ask the groups to compare the contents of Students’ Reference: Material 2 with those of Material 3 and to finish Worksheet 2. Let students discuss the differences of the understanding of a happy life among Jesus and different Jewish sects.

  • Teacher invites students to present their views. Refer to and briefly explains Teachers’ Reference: Appendix 2 [Suggested Answers for Worksheet 2 (Compare and Contrast Jesus’ Understanding of a Happy Life with that of the Jews)], and wraps up the activity.


Step 4: Teacher goes further to discuss with students:

  • Is happiness a kind of luck or something that has to be pursuit or one will never get it?

  • Is happiness determined by inner spirituality or easily affected by external factors such as power forces and social traditions?

The Background of the Sermon on the Mount Activity Three 2-2




  • Is happiness more about the interests of a community or the interests of the entire mankind?

  • How would you comment on Jesus’ understanding of a happy life?


Step 5: Teacher summarises:

  • In the past, Jesus taught the disciples on a mount and preached about living a happy life. It was known as ‘the Sermon on the Mount’. Jesus wished the Jews could improve their religious life and the relationship with God, so as to enjoy freedom and live a happy life.

  • Jesus believed that people should take the initiative to pursuit a happy life, which was a matter of spiritual contentment that could benefit the entire mankind.

  • We will study the Sermon on the Mount in details in the coming lessons. We will try to understand the specific contents of a happy life according to Jesus and find out the values of Jesus’ teachings to people nowadays.




The Background of the Sermon on the Mount Extended Activities


Extended Activities:


  1. Teacher asks students to read some newspapers and magazines and to look for different kind of a happy lives expected by the following social classes and organisations in Hong Kong:

    1. The working class

    2. The middle class

    3. The upper class

    4. A religious organisation




  1. With reference to Worksheet 2, teacher asks students to use the three guidelines [(1) whether happiness is affected by the environment/pursued by oneself; (2) whether happiness is affected by external factor such as power and social traditions/ spirituality; (3) whether happiness should concern more about national interests/the interests of the entire mankind] to analyse and organise the contents of happy life they have pursued.



The Background of the Sermon on the Mount Teacher’s References Material 1 2-1


Material 1: The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God


  1. The Kingdom of Heaven(the Kingdom of God):

The Kingdom of Heaven is also called the Kingdom of God, meaning the place where God’s power is manifested. The term ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ was used in the Gospel of Matthew since its target readers, the Jews, were used to this term. ‘The Kingdom of God’ was used in the Gospels of Mark and Luke since Jews were not the primary readers of these two gospels.
2. Comparison between Jesus’ and the Jewish ideas of the Kingdom of Heaven:

Jesus’ idea of the Kingdom of Heaven

The Jewish idea of the Kingdom of Heaven

    • The Kingdom of Heaven is a territory where God has sovereignty. It is spiritual;

    • The Kingdom of heaven is the grace of God. People can enter it for free;

    • The Kingdom of Heaven is a gift to all people, including both good and bad people, the Jews and the Gentiles, the despised and the sinners. People can decide whether they want to accept it;

    • To enter the Kingdom of heaven is the most important thing in one’s life.

    • At that time, the Jews believed that God would send the Messiah to rescue the Israelites from foreign rule. Therefore, the Jewish idea of the Kingdom of Heaven:

    • It was a political issue;

    • Only those who observed God’s laws and lived a holy and righteous life would be elected to be its members.

3. Comparison between Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s ideas of the Kingdom of Heaven:



Jesus’ idea of

the Kingdom of Heaven



John the Baptist’s idea of

the Kingdom of heaven



    • Jesus highlighted that the Kingdom of Heaven means God’s salvation.

    • Jesus preached that the Kingdom of Heaven is not something that will appear in the future. Rather, it had already been manifested in him and his works.

    • John the Baptist preached, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is near’. He emphasised that God’s judgment is coming, and the axe is already at the root of the trees.

    • God will come in as King. He will cleanse, screen, choose and judge all people. Nobody can escape from His judgment.

The Background of the Sermon on the Mount Teacher’s References Material 1 2-2


  1. Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of Heaven can be interpreted in the following ways:

    • The Kingdom of Heaven has already come to earth:

Jesus preached, ‘The Kingdom of God is near!’ (Mark 1:15) He took up the ministry, lived according to God’s will, and resisted temptations and defeated the devil successfully. He had proven to people that the Kingdom of Heaven has come to earth.

    • The Kingdom of Heaven will grow secretly, steadily and fully.

Jesus used the Parable of the Mustard Seed to describe the characteristics of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed scattered on the ground. At first, it is hidden and cannot be seen. But it will sprout and grow unknowingly, and become a fruitful tree eventually. (Mark 4:26-29; 30-34)

    • The Kingdom of heaven has not completely come:

Jesus’ followers tried hard to follow God’s will and be the salt and light of the world. They encouraged others to do the same as well. Yet the Kingdom of Heaven has not completely come to earth. Thus, good and evil, justice and injustice, freedom and bondage still coexist in this world.

    • The Kingdom of Heaven will only be completely realised in the future:

The Kingdom of Heaven will be completely realised on earth when Jesus returns. At that time, all people will no longer be sinful and they will follow God’s will. All goodness on earth will then be restored. (Mark14:22-25).


References:

  1. 吳羅瑜編:《聖經新辭典,上冊》,(香港:天道書樓,1997),(頁10-11)。

  2. 馬潔萍、譚美兒、廖凱怡(1994)︰《同創新天地︰基督的使命─第四冊學生本》,(香港:宗教教育出版社),(頁72)。

  3. “Kingdom of God,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. (http://www.studylight.org/enc/isb/)

The Background of the Sermon on the Mount Teacher’s References Material 2

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