So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.
But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!”
[With these words Jesus finishes his Sermon on the Mount where he explains to his disciples, in specific terms, what it means to be “more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires” (See Day 23)].
Jesus says, do what I have told you and you will do just fine. You will be creating a firm foundation for your relationship with God and everyone around you. Ignore what I’ve shared with you and its will disappoint you. It’s not that Jesus says he wil punish them; it’s just the truth of the matter that things will go bad. Just the facts.
So there it is. This is the last installment of the Sermon on the Mount (Days 17-63). Pretty darned impressive. I sure learned a lot savoring these words for the last month. It’s a lot different than when you just read right through it.
One thing that really impressed me was how severe Jesus was about anger (Day 24). I think that if you take only one thing away from the Sermon on the Mount it would be to purge anger from your life.
I believe in this scripture. I believe that the Sermon on the Mount is a summation of everything that Jesus wants us to know. It’s all we need to have a great life and a great relationship with God.
I just bought a new phone. I’m going to use the entire experience to illustrate the importance of the Sermon on the Mount.
Here’s the phone I selected. So let’s say the phone itself is a metaphor for my commitment to becoming a follower of Jesus. Let’s say it opens up the lines of communication with Jesus. It’s a useless piece of junk unless I can figure out how to make it work.
My phone came with a bunch of things. I got the phone itself, a Quick Start Guide with the basics, a Complete User Guide for the phone, and a Service Provider User Guide. The first thing I have to do is figure out what I actually need to deal with to get the phone to work. I am faced with the same decision as a follower of Jesus. I really just want to do what Jesus tells me to do. What IS all this stuff anyway? Do I have to read all of it?
Here’s a picture of the Quick Start Guide for my phone. If you use the Quick start Guide you can operate the phone very effectively. It’s all you really need and it never changes. The rules are always the same for this phone regardless of the service provider. Similarly, the Sermon on the Mount is all you really need to become an effective follower of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is your Quick Start Guide for becoming a follower of Jesus.
Here’s a picture of the Complete User Guide for the phone. It’s big and technical and confusing. There are a few exceptional folks who read it cover to cover, but most people just riffle through it. That’s OK because the phone works just fine without it. It’s kind of like the Bible. Some people enjoy it and find it worthwhile to read it every day and study it in infinite detail. However you can be a highly effective follower of Jesus even if you don’t read the whole Bible. All you really need is your Quick Start Guide – the Sermon on the Mount.
Here is the Service Provider User Guide that I received with the phone. It’s all about the legal relationship that I have with AT&T when I use the phone. The phone itself is universal would work with another service provider, but these are the rules and conditions for this particular provider – AT&T. Like the Complete User Guide, it’s complicated and technical and you can use the phone very effectively without ever picking it up. This Service Provider User Guide is like Christianity. It’s like the current interpretations of the Bible and all of the current theological paradigms. It’s full of rules. It’s somewhat arbitrary and changes all the time. You don’t need to know about Christianity and all of its rules and beliefs to be an effective follower of Jesus. You only need your Quick Start Guide – the Sermon on the Mount.
Christianity sincerely want to follow Jesus, but how much time is spent talking about the Sermon on the Mount? It seems like there is a lot more emphasis on evangelism. Or church growth. Or the “blood of Jesus”. Or how Jesus died for your sins. Or catechism. Or the end times. Or redemption. Or the trinity. Or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Or heaven and hell. Or virgin birth. Or creeds. Or sexuality. Or the Messiah. Or original sin. Or saving souls. Or immersion baptism. Or the second coming. Or interfaith ministry. Or mission trips. Or true worship. Or stewardship. Or whatever else they come up with.
In my humble opinion, I think that if we are followers of Jesus, then what’s important to him ought to be important to us. Jesus tells us what’s important to him in the Sermon on the Mount. So, if the principles in the Sermon on the Mount are not the centerpiece of a ministry, then that ministry is not following Jesus. Without the Sermon on the Mount, none of these other things have any relevance. Unless these things are viewed and applied through the foundational teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount they can become a major distraction. It becomes sand, shifting around, blowing away, eroding – all useless, wasted, superficial, irrelevant, and temporal. A big old sink hole that will suck the spirituality right out of you.
I firmly believe that if I’m going to follow Jesus I need to make sure that what’s important to him is a priority for me. I believe this Sermon on the Mount is indeed the rock upon which my life must rest and I don’t want to follow teachers who might try to make something else seem like it’s more important. I don’t know about you but I have a hard time maintaining my focus and I can be easily distracted. From now on I’m going to filter everything through this and advise other followers of Jesus to do the same. Everything else is secondary. Not forbidden or irrelevant or useless, just secondary.
And remember, in the Sermon on the Mount the only thing that Jesus says will send you to hell is ANGER. If I forget about everything else I will remember that Jesus hates anger. I will never again allow myself into being deceived that anger is justifiable in any circumstances. I will never again indulge my anger; I will call it out as SIN and do my best to shut it down.
Throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reveals that knowing and loving God will enable us to know and love each other and to gracefully walk the fine between legalism and lawlessness. Jesus tells us that our task is to connect on a deep and profound level with God and everyone on the planet. This is the fundamental purpose of the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is to teach us about the appropriate practical application of LOVE.
I’m a pretty organized person so I felt compelled to create this little reference chart that summarizes the sermon and correlates it to my blog. It’s my Sermon on the Mount Quick Start Guide, and my gift to you. You can right click it and “save image as” to your own device.. Please do.
So the greatest sermon, the mother of all sermons, is finished. Now I will explore how Jesus lived out these principles in his life and ministry. So far so good. It all makes sense to me and seems totally relevant 2000 years later. When I look at the list of topics Jesus addresses, there isn’t anything that seems totally impossible. Most of it just requires a little maturity and discipline; something a good disciple should be able to muster up with God’s help and guidance. Of course none of this works unless you know God personally (See Day 62).
Back to the phone – my service provider is AT&T so when I turn it on the first thing is says is “Rethink Possible.” I think that’s what Jesus invites us to do with the Sermon on the Mount. Rethink Possible. The world is not hopeless and neither am I. Our you. Or anyone else. It’s not that complicated. Rethink Possible!
What does this scripture say to you?