OK! No one faint! My last post was October 14, 2012 and it wasn’t even a real post. I cheated and re-blogged one of my daughter’s post’s to her website. I openly confess, I have been VERY lax in blogging and have no real excuse. I could explain that my life is extremely busy and I just haven’t had the time, but then that would just be a cop-out for “it has not been a significant enough priority.” So there you have it; it has not been a significant enough priority in my life. I would like to say I am going to change that… Maybe I will. Then again, maybe it will be another 3.5 months before my next post. I hope not!
With those formalities out-of-the-way…
The last several sermon’s I’ve preached to the youth, and this one to the adults, have had a focus on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). I find it significant that Jesus’ first sermon, in the first book of the New Testament, has so much meat for living our daily lives as Christians, followers of Christ!
After being obedient in His baptism, and being told that “this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Jesus is immediately taken by the Holy Spirit to be tempted and fast for 40 days and nights (To me the “nights” part is significant because when I commit to a fast for X number of days — when sundown comes on day X, it is over!!). After conquering temptation and fasting, he immediately begins preaching repentance and gathering disciples. His first recorded sermon starts by talking about be blessed — you can say that word with two syllables or one it still means the same thing. 🙂 Most people think of the word “blessed” as meaning either “happy” or “receiving favor”. While both of those are valid and have something to do with its meaning, the Greek word we translate as “blessed” is “makarios” which implies a deep-rooted sense of well-being (because of our relationship with God).
To me the beatitudes are promises that we are assured of because we are followers of Christ. When we are poor in spirit (lacking the fortitude to go on spiritually), we will be backed up by the kingdom of Heaven. When we are morning, we will be comforted. When we strive for righteousness, we shall receive the ability to achieve it (through Christ)…. And, when we are reviled and persecuted and spoken evil against because we are followers of Christ, we will be able to rejoice because Christ is storing up rewards for us in eternity!
Sure he has built up a small group of disciples by this time (Matthew 4), but He is preaching to thousands (compare to “televised” for the time) and telling them “when you are persecuted for MY SAKE,” you will receive awards in eternity. No wonder they marveled at His teaching as “one who had authority and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:29) He makes the claim that if they followed him, they will be persecuted — who had the authority to make such claims — the Messiah!
And it just gets better form there… Jesus repeatedly uses the phrase, “You have heard that is was said…” Typically, He says this when the then modern-day teachers have taken a scripture and either misinterpreted it, or taken it out of context, or both. For instance, He says in Matthew 5:43, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” Nowhere in the Old Testament does it say hate your enemy. This is clearly a reference to a popular teaching of the day. All throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the popular teaching of the Law at the time and takes it to a whole new level. He reset’s the original intent of the Law — after all, He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) — the only one capable of fulfilling it, and doing so on our behalf.
The bottom line, the Sermon on the mount is chock full of Christ’s “reset” on His intent in the OT. Three short chapters in Matthew (5-7) contain His expectations on how He wants us to live our life, how we should react to circumstances we encounter in life, and how we are to treat others. I think it is worth at least a week’s worth of repeated reading — hey why not 40 days. After all the first two things he deals with in terms of life circumstances are (in order) anger and lust — coincidence? I think not!
How have the teaching of the sermon on the mount affected your Life? Care to share?