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.”

Yet most of us are too busy arguing our own cause to listen to God’s cause.

yelling

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

 

www.marmarthunder.wordpress.com

21 comments

  1. Beautiful post, Susan. Apology for being late to the party, so to speak. I’ve gotten a bit behind.

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    1. Oh, no apology necessary. Thrilled your book is out. 🙂

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      1. Thanks, Susan.

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      2. Thank you, Susan. I seem to have cracked the code on feminism and how to write relatively well. Hopefully, I can be as successful in figuring out how to bring prospective readers and my book together.

        I think there’s been a Hidden Hand in this so far, so I am not going to lose sleep over it. It will happen, somehow and however.

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  2. Favorite sermon!

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  3. “We must remember: we are not Saviors. We are servants.”

    Oh, wow. This is a great post, Susan…

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    1. Thank, Lori. 🙂

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  4. I have found myself deeply caught in the dissonance you talk of, especially in the aftermath of Resurrection. We celebrate Christ’s victory and His inauguration of a new creation, and yet we still live with the pain and trials of the old. Which story are we in right now? And the answer, of course, is both. My human nature wants clarity, certainty, and the ability to predict how He will respond in every situation. But, predictably, He reserves the right to be God. And, beautifully, He sustains me as I live in the mess of being caught between the “already” and the “not-yet.”

    Here’s what I’ve been chewing on concerning all this:
    http://messytheology.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/how-the-story-goes/
    http://messytheology.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/what-to-expect-when-were-expecting/

    It’s refreshing to read your similar thoughts!

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    1. I will definitely give your two posts a read, Tiffany. It seems we all go through seasons of deep introspection like this. I am blessed to have mentors and teachers and pastors willing to disciple me and share their perspective of this dissonance with me.

      I am also open to His grace and new teaching every time I study the Word. It’s amazing how rich the Bible is with new meaning every time I read it. I look at a passage and read the margin Scripture or read the commentary and realize I’ve noticed something completely new the 7th time around!

      Look forward to reading what you have to say about the human dichotomy! Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Amen! As always, great post. Thank you for your obedience to God in the sharing of God’s message.

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    1. You’re welcome, my sister. I pray you’re doing well today and have a pain-free weekend.

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      1. Thanks my sister. I am. I pray all is well you. Have a blessed day!

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  6. Sounds like a great series. I love Dallas Willard’s thoughts about the Sermon on the Mount.

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    1. He was so wonderful! I remember listening to his thoughts about it a while ago. I’ll have to give it a listen again. Thanks for that! If you see a quote from him, it will be because of you! 🙂

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      1. Susan, I have to tell you that I was raised in some very unhealthy faith communities and came away with a lot of issues. Even now when a Christian starts following me on my blog or I get a FB request, I look at them with wary eyes. It is a gift to me that you are as you are.

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      2. Thank you, Susan. That means a lot. I think because I only came to the faith 8 years ago and wasn’t raised a Christian, I don’t carry with me much of the baggage that is found in the “religion.” I’ve studied the words of Jesus and have based the foundation of my faith on Him. (Wow – I’m crying as I write this.)

        His central command was to love – that message is so important to me that I must speak about it, write about it, and pass His message along. I simply can’t NOT do it. I appreciate you letting me know that it comes through.

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  7. Obedience and faith: the cornerstones of being Christian.

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    1. Those and love: the perfect triangle.

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