This week in Israel we pondered the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) on the Mount of Beatitudes, at or near the spot where Jesus taught 2000 years ago on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
An Inaugural Sermon: This was our Lord’s first recorded sermon. I’ve read the biographies of many great preachers, and I always pay attention to any description of their first sermons. The attempts are usually pretty rough. Mine certainly was. But there once was a remarkable young man who, at age thirty, hung up His carpenter’s apron, laid down His hammer, trudged from His hometown, and found a spot on a hillside where He gathered a crowd and began to preach. And His first recorded message was the greatest sermon the world had ever heard.
A Timeless Sermon: The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest sermon ever preached, by the greatest man who ever lived. Found in Matthew 5-7, it is the Manifesto of Christ, the Essence of Christianity and our Lord’s Inaugural Address. Within the 107 verses of this sermon are the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, the Golden Rule, the Narrow Gate, and the wise man who built his house upon a rock. Here we learn about the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We discover the internal dimensions of morality and spirituality, and we’re told how to deal with anger, lust, divorce, retaliation, anxiety, oaths, and religious hypocrisy. It’s here Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The Sermon on the Mount teaches us to reverse our values, priorities, and behaviors in life—to live opposite our instincts. When we live out the Sermon on the Mount, we’re engaging in the Jesus-style of everyday holiness and distinctive discipleship, living as Kingdom People in practical ethics and daily disposition. Here, in simple ABC fashion, are Christ’s Rules for Life.
A Simple Sermon: Great as it is, we can follow the Sermon on the Mount with a simple ABC.
A = Our Attitudes — How to Be Happy in this World (Matthew 5:1-16). These are the famous beatitudes–the beautiful attitudes.
B = OurBehavior — How to Be Righteous in this World(Matthew 5:17 – 7:12). Here Jesus tells us about hatred, lust, murder, prayer, giving, worry, and many other practical issues in life.
C = Our Commitment – How to Follow Christ in this World (Matthew 8:13-24). We enter the narrow gate and build our lives on a solid foundation.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was
- (1) showing us how inadequate is the righteousness of the scribes, pharisees, and you and me;
- (2) describing the kind of life He had come to demonstrate;
- (3) teaching us the kind of life He wants to live through us.
Take time soon to read this Sermon anew — Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Here are some pictures of the location in Galilee.