Imagine yourself on that hillside, overlooking Galilee. In company with a multitude you sit, listening intently to the Master. If you’re listening at all, it’s not light work. For as he preaches, Jesus intensifies the Law. Not only is his focus on outward actions, but he hones in on the interior recesses of our very souls.
Such an intense call to obedience feels somewhat daunting. Is mere rule-keeping the order of the day? Are we meant to be as law-focused as the Pharisees themselves?
Such questions, reveal the wrong starting place, listening from the wrong angle. Jesus said he came to set us free, to give us life in all fullness, with a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. Rather than being a new burden, the Sermon on the Mount is a description of life lived in the freedom of God’s Kingdom. What Jesus maps out is nothing less than the good and beautiful life.
Oh, yes, we’ll need his Spirit to live it. Oh, yes, we’ll continually be dependent on the forgiveness of the cross. But Jesus’ preaching is intent on transforming us by renewing our minds – to see anger, bitterness, lust, unfaithfulness, vengeance, worry and hatred in all of their ugliness, while learning to embrace forgiveness, purity, reconciliation, faith and love in all their goodness and beauty.
Come listen to Jesus. Come step anew into the good and beautiful life.
* title borrowed from book by James Bryan Smith (IV Press)
Jan 7 Matthew 5:1-12 The Beatitudes
Jan 14 Matthew 5:13-16 Salt & Light
Jan 21 Matthew 5:17-20 Abolishing the Law?
Jan 28 Matthew 5:21-26 Broken Relationship
Feb 4 Matthew 5:27-30 Clean Eyes
Feb 11 Missions Week
Feb 18 Missions Week
Feb 25 Matthew 5:31-32 Divorce
Mar 4 Matthew 5:33-37 Good As Your Word
Mar 11 David Hearn Life in the Spirit
Mar 18 Matthew 5:38-48 Bad Guys & Bullies
Mar 25 Palm Sunday The Cross
Apr 1 Easter The Resurrection
Apr 8 Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18 Don’t Show Off
Apr 15 Matthew 6:7-15 Connecting with the Father
Apr 22 Matthew 6:19-24 Where’s Your Heart?
Apr 29 Matthew 6:25-34 Don’t Worry
May 6 Matthew 7:1-6 Don’t Judge
May 13 Matthew 7:7-12 Ask, Seek, Knock
May 20 Matthew 7:13-23 Entering the Kingdom
May 27 Matthew 7:24-29 Wise & Foolish Builders (was preached on Sept 17 2017)