This Sunday our pastor will finish a preaching series on The Sermon on the Mount. I suspect all pastors, at one time or another, have done this exercise with varied degrees of success. After all, what is the objective in preaching this type of series?
Is it that people actually read, see, or hear commentary on this great passage of scripture? Is it that people will do a self-examination and make some alteration in their life or with their life? When the three points and a poem marathon finishes and class is being dismissed, what will be the measure of success from such a series?
Jesus had basically one expectation, at least from what Matthew tells us, and it was not that people would be “astonished at his teaching.”
The expectation of Jesus was that people would understand, the kingdom of God is built by people who “…do the will of (his) Father who is in heaven (Matt. 7:21).” It was not a matter of blind and superficial obedience or performing the supernatural. It was a matter of doing the will of God.
Furthermore, Jesus emphasizes the importance of hearing that leads to doing. It was not enough to say, “Wow, that is some kind of message.” It was imperative that people act in response to what they heard/understood. That is how one builds a house on rock and not on sand. It is not merely looking at the blueprints, it is actually building the structure per the blueprints.That is how a disciple of Christ stands firm during turbulent times.
If was clear to Jesus that there were plenty within ear shot who lived lives of so called righteousness, but were mere shadow puppets on a wall. Jesus wanted those who desired to be his disciples to respond to his teaching in such a way that their “righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees.” To live a life that stood, not so much in contrast to those role players, but one that was lived in conformity to and consistency with God’s will and God’s purpose and God’s desire.
When Jesus dismisses class he expects great things – life changing things — world changing things. He did not expect a classroom full of note-takers, but a classroom full of people making note worthy moral, social and spiritual changes in their lives.
Father, let me be a doer and not just a hearer. May I live what I know to be true and know what I live is true.