The Sermon on the Mount. Three chapters in Matthew. Lessons in living straight from the mouth of Jesus. Lessons about salt and light. Warnings against anger, murder, adultery, divorce, worry and retaliation. Instructions on prayer being wise, loving both friends and enemies, preparing for eternity. The Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7, is a much-read, much-studied, and much-preached about passage. Yet every time I read it, I learn something new.
For instance, Matthew 5:1-2 tells us that Jesus went up on the mountain to avoid the crowds — it was just Jesus and His disciples. Whether the crowds came in search of the healing Jesus had been doing or whether the people came simply based on the power of His words, we do know that the crowds came. Matthew 7:28-29 informs us that the crowds were amazed at His teaching.
Can you imagine what that would have been like? Sitting on a hillside listening to the Son of God. Would we comprehend the seriousness of anger when we heard the Messiah equate it with murder? Would we learn to privately fast with joyful obedience when the Christ told us that God would reward our fasting? Would we learn the importance of building treasures in heaven if Lord of Heaven told us to?
Or would we have a different reaction? After hearing the Beatitudes, would we say, “Uh … Jesus, are we supposed to know this?” Will we scratch our heads and ask, “Do I need to write this down?” Would we tell Jesus we would have paid more attention if we had known there was going to be a test? Would we complain to Jesus, “Other people don’t have to learn this stuff, why should we?”
When Jesus was about halfway through His sermon, would we have started looking at our watches, wondering how long the line was going to be at our favorite restaurant? If Jesus talked about something we didn’t like, would we shrug it off and say, “What does this have to do with real life, anyway?” And when Jesus kept on teaching and teaching and teaching, would we turn to those next to us and say, “When in the world are we ever going to get away from here?”
How do people react to Jesus? To the Bible? Some say Jesus isn’t really the Son of God. Some say the Bible is nothing more than a myth. Some say Jesus was a great teacher, but did not die on the cross to save us from our sins. Some say the Bible is a lie. Some say Jesus is not part of the Trinity, that He was created by God in the same manner God created us. Some say the Bible is not relevant for us in our culture. Some say Jesus never existed. Some say the Bible could not possibly be true.
So, what are our reactions to the teachings of Jesus? How do we respond to what we read in the Bible? Hmmm …
Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.