“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.”
Yet 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