Sermon on the Mount
“He sat down and his disciples came to him.” Matthew 5:1
As Christians, and certainly as followers of Jesus, most of us are familiar with the first public sermon of Jesus. Identified in the book of Matthew as the Sermon on the Mount and in the book of Luke as the Sermon on the Plain, the words that lie in these pages are rare and precious jewels. They take us into the heart of Jesus. They provide us with, if not a recipe, certainly a guide for our walk in the Christian faith.
According to Scripture, Jesus taught thousands of people at a time. Without a stage, without a microphone, without introductory worship music. How is this possible?
“He sat down and his disciples came to him.” He waited for people to listen.
I don’t think that happens much today.
We are told throughout the Bible to listen:
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One.”
Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Matthew 11:15 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Revelation 2:29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Most of us are too busy arguing our own cause to listen to God’s cause.
Most of us presume that because Jesus did something, we are to do the same things. Like turning tables in the temple. Like accusing Pharisees. Like telling other people to “sin no more.” When we take these things for granted, instead of looking to what Jesus told us to do, we place ourselves as equals to him.
We must remember: we are not Saviors. We are servants.
Our job is to listen, to follow and obey. Listen means to really hear what Jesus said. Follow means to be his student; to learn from him and study his words. Obey means to do what he asked us to do – nothing less and nothing more. This is discipleship.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 22:28-30
Once again I present you with a series. I’ll be pressing into the words of Jesus and using biblical commentary from several versions, and from other studies, to learn alongside you, and to attempt with the Spirit’s wisdom to explain the significance of his words.
Sometimes those words will defy logic.
One thing I’m discovering on this lifelong journey of being yoked with Jesus is the continual cognitive dissonance – the simple yet complex; the already/not yet; being pre-ordained and having free will. We want to put God inside our box of human logic – the either/or – even though we are told God’s thoughts and ways are not at all like our thoughts and ways and His thoughts and ways are so far above ours they’re impossible for any human to comprehend.
According to Jonathan Merritt, the apostle Paul describes Christians as “those who live by a story that doesn’t always make sense and serve a God who isn’t a slave to human logic. Christians are, in Paul’s words, ‘stewards of the mysteries of God’.”*
For me, that’s the faith connection; the intricate beauty of simple faith. The faith of discipleship. The faith of emptying myself of my own perceptions and agendas. The faith of truly desiring to know the meaning behind Jesus’ words. The faith of obeying them once I know.
*© 2014, Jonathan Merritt, Jesus is Better Than You Imagined, p. 56, Faith Words, Hatchette Book Group, NY, NY 10017
Posted on April 25, 2014, in On Christianity and tagged christianity, disciple, discipleship, faith, follow, hear, Jesus, Jonathan Merritt, listen, logic, obey, sermon on the Mount, spirit, student, Susan Irene Fox. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.
I can’t WAIT to start the series…. can’t even HARDLY wait. Your words & message minister to me in a very personal way, and I appreciate you for that. I appreciate God for you for that.
Bless you. I learn, too, as His living word speaks to me and through me. Thank you for your encouragement; I’m excited, too! 😀
“Jesus taught thousands of people at a time. Without a stage, without a microphone, without introductory worship music. How is this possible?” I have always wondered! But you are so right, we need to be quiet and still to hear his words. What a great reminder.
🙂 We are definitely a talking culture, aren’t we? And we seem to say whatever happens to cross our minds without any internal filter. We talk without any regard for whether others are talking or listening.
I think people listened to Jesus because He had something to say that was worth listening to.
I am looking forward to this series! Godspeed!
Thank you, Scott. Me, too! 🙂
I think I just might be of the same faith ~ of emptying myself of my own perceptions and agendas:
About 700 pages of rhyme worth!
🙂 I will head over and give it a read!
Oh, I think you’re right. And I think next week’s blog will nail it down for you! Great poetry! Only got to 300 pages so far, but it’s all good. 😀
You certainly read like a whirl wind! Thank you! Looking forward to nex’ week’s…
Good morning, Susan
I was praying to my Lord as to what devotions He wanted me to do this morning. I read your piece again. It became my morning devotional message.In all the struggles and challenges of Karen’s and my life it is all too easy to be dragged by the concerns, the problems and those growing list of things to do, that there are times I forget to listen, to be quiet, to hear and feel the love of my Lord speak its healing love into my soul.
There is far too much noise in our lives. There have been so many times this last several months fighting my respiratory bug which is now a battle with Mr. Bronchitis for over three months, that people and their unreasonable expectations of us have crowded in, have robbed us of that peace which no human-being I think, not even the most learned scholar, has been able to truly and fully describe.
How can any of us with our human minds describe that infilling, life-giving peace which passes all human understanding, which defies any logical explanation. It would be like trying to define what makes Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” a great masterpiece of its composer or to explain the beauty in the Cat Stevens’ rendition of “Morning Has Broken.” I could study all of my life. I could read all the great works of literature and theology about the peace of God and still fail to grasp the full measure of that wondrous and soul-lifting peace.
I’ll just thank and praise Him for those times in all the noise when He gives me those respites of peace.
I offer you this prayer.
Loving and gracious Heavenly Father, be with Susan today and throughout this week. Let Your peace which passes our limited human understanding cascade over her, infill her spirit and draw her to the living and healing waters of Your peace, Your sweet life-giving peace.
In her times of struggle when the Enemy would seek to chew away at that peace send as many legions of warring and ministering angels as Susan needs to keep her from all harm to her body,mind, spirit and emotions.
Father, we know the Enemy will seek to throw every road block he can, so this devotional series is derailed. I pray as Susan has prayed for Karen and me, that You would blind Satan’s sight from Susan.
Cause everything she does to heap blessings on her so much that she is run down by them.
I speak against any darkness that is seeking to bring illness or inner heartache to Susan. Almighty God, let no weapon formed against her have any impact.
We praise Your holy and glorious Name for the many lives that are going to be touched by this series! Let the floodgate of Your treasure house of blessings flow into Susan’s life and all of the lives You are calling her to touch.
Lord, I thank you for Susan’s life. I praise You and thank you for bringing her into my life. Lord, you have fashioned her into being such an amazing teacher of Your Word!
Father, let Susan’s writing to go out to every heart that needs it.
Father, I can feel in my spirit that if Susan was to put together her writing into a devotional book, she would be blessing so many lives, who need the healing balm of Gethsemane that flows through her thoughts and honesty about who she is in You. We wait upon Your perfect will in this.
Bless her Father. Bless her in every second of her day. Renew Susan in body, mind, spirit, heart and soul.
I ask all these things through the power of the spirit of the resurrected Christ within me. Amen.
Susan, have a God-amazing week!
No words, Kevin, just ❤ and \ o /
Susan, no words are needed. The Lord and I hear the prayers of thankfulness and joy that flow from your heart.
“Obey means to do what he asked us to do – nothing less and nothing more. This is discipleship.” Exactly the right words that explains it well.
Thank you, Marmar.
i’ve reach the point where i’m sick of church. we’re not doing what we are told but we’re doing what we were not told.
I think traditional “church” in the current world is a building that reflects human “dos and don’ts.”
In Jesus’ day, “church” was a gathering of believers. It happened in homes and outside beside a stream. It’s where people talked about the words of Jesus. It’s where they offered each other faith, hope and love. It’s where they supported each other in their walk with God. It’s where they cared for the poor, the sick, the orphan, the elderly.
I don’t see that happening a lot in our “churches” either, but I do see changes happening. I see people meeting in small groups the way they used to in Jesus’ day.
I’m not to the point of being sick of my own “church” yet, and they are doing great things in the community at large, but I don’t experience real fellowship there. I think in the next year or so, I’ll be seeking to move away from my own “church” to find or start a real church of people where I have that kind of deep support, encouragement and walk.
I’m with you, my brother.
churches today try so hard to be creative and attractive yet powerless.
Those who rely simply on creativity forget it is not the band or the pastor, but The Pastor who has the power. We must pray they seek Him in all things, and seek not to convert, but to make disciples.
We try to be creative because we lack power to obey the great commission. being creative somehow kills the guilt.
I’m not sure if it’s because we lack power, or because we operate from fear instead of love. When we understand the freedom and love that is in Christ, we are open to surrender, open to follow Him, open to obedience. When we don’t understand it, we become fearful, we hang onto control, and we place ourselves and God in a box. We must continue to write about the amazing grace of love and freedom so others begin to open their hearts and move in the right direction. We must not let our minds be overtaken by the enemy, who tells us there is no point, or that we cannot make a difference.
Keep the faith, my brother. We are God’s hands and heart across the world.
We lack power because we want to do church our way and not God’s way.
I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice,
keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back
in the future. All the best