I think that I have shared this thought before…but…Matthews collections of Jesus’ teachings starting in Matthew 5-7, commonly known as the “Sermon on the Mount” is one of my most favorite sections in the Bible. In my study of these passages, particularly the Sermon on the mount, it has been interesting to see how different scholars organize and interpret these passages. For instance, some scholars believe that all of Matthew chapters 5-7 were taught in one sermon, some believe that the same chapters were a compilation of messages taught over time. Scholars also organize the passages into outlines that offer complementary perspectives. One thing that scholars seem to agree on is that the teachings of Jesus as recorded in these discourses fly directly in the face of spiritual mediocrity. In them Jesus our King, calls for the highest levels of discipleship. I consider these discourses to be a bootcamp for the disciple of Christ. Like boot-camp, one cannot read these passages without full engagement. And…like boot-camp, a disciple of Christ, fully engaged in these teachings is certainly going to be changed as they live out this path set by Christ Himself.
To say that Jesus’ teachings in these chapters are radical and challenging is an understatement. If you believe in Christ and call him your Lord and Rabbi then these passages will rock your world view. I believe that it is impossible for anyone who calls Christ Lord to simply rationalize these passages without absorbing them deep into their soul. If you come to the same conclusion that I have over the years, you too will find that life described by Christ in His discourses can only be followed through His death on the cross on our behalf. In other words, everything points back to God through Christ. We can do nothing apart from him. I believe that if you read any of the sermons of Jesus without absorbing them through the filters of His death and resurrection, you put yourself at risk of living a life of legalistic futility.
The Sermon on the Mount is the first of 5 collections, or “discourses” of Jesus that Matthew recorded throughout this document that he prepared as a testimony to religious and zealous Jews. These pios individuals were leading lives of legalistic futility that was void of Love and Joy. What is worse, they were leading others toward this same meaningless existence. The discourses of Jesus are the very words of Christ when He walked among us in the flesh, carefully recorded and now shared with all of us. Again…I am compelled to mention that these sections can’t be read quickly. I know…we should read through the entire Bible very carefully and I am not forgetting that all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (3 Tim, 3:16). However, in my overly complex, dramatized and romanticized American mind, I just love the thought of imagining myself in the crowd of people listening to Jesus as he “taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law,” (Matt, 7:29). With that thought in mind, I simply can’t resist the desire to linger in these passages a little longer than usual, allowing my somewhat dense heart and thick skull some additional time to let the meaning of each word uttered by Jesus to sink in a little more deeply.
I am out of time for today so I won’t even try to cover one word or verse in any of these discourses in this post. I will however, continue this study on a future post coming soon. As for today, I encourage anyone who might have glanced casually at this post to take a fresh look at these passages in Matthew, starting with the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. I pray that you will be captured as I was by the thought that the privilege of reading the very words of the Son of our most high God is an amazing gift. One that countless generations who lived before Christ longed for.
Coming soon…Matthew 5:3…Blessed are the Poor in Spirit…
Ungers Bible Dictionary
Tyndale Bible Dictionary
The Teacher Bible Commentary
The New Ungers Bible Handbook
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sermon_on_the_Mount – Yes I even use Wikipedia.