This Sunday, we arrive at the last two verses of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. And in those last two verses, you’re given the crowd’s reaction to Jesus’ message. Imagine yourself in that crowd. How would you react to all that you just heard? How would you expect Matthew to tell us the crowd responded? Matthew didn’t say, “And many obeyed Him.” He tells us, “the crowds were astonished at His teaching for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” The crowds focus wasn’t on their own duty or even on the sermon itself. Their focus was on the Preacher. They reacted to Jesus, the man, not His message. The Sermon on the Mount calls you and me to that same reaction. It causes you to consider Jesus. Whether or not you’re in the kingdom of heaven depends on who you say Jesus is. Join us this Sunday as we wrap up our survey of the Sermon on the Mount and consider the identity and authority of Jesus, and what that means for you.
In a life that’s full of choices, Jesus, in this week’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount, offers listeners only two choices. It’s a choice of journeys and a choice of ultimate destinations, and two couldn’t be more different. In the conclusion to His sermon, Jesus wants to make sure you understand the consequences of this choice that every one of us will have to make. Which way will you choose?
I can only think of a couple of people I find it easy to buy Christmas gifts for. With everyone else, I agonize over the right gift. Apparently I am just as difficult to shop for. My family insists that I share my Amazon wish list so they can select items from it to get for me.
Thankfully, Christians have a heavenly Father who knows how to give His children good gifts. He’s especially eager to give us those gifts that grow us in Christ-likeness. Jesus tells you, in this week’s passage in the Sermon on the Mount, that God will provide all you need for spiritual development if you ask. But what and how do you ask? Find out this Sunday, as we worship together and dig deeper into the greatest sermon ever.
What drives more people from church than anything else? Well, my own experience tells me it’s judgmentalism. I’m sad to say, I’ve seen quite a few people leave the church because they were criticized by others or feared being criticized after something happened for which they felt they would be judged. I’m not picking on any one particular church. And, really, I’m not picking on just the church. Humanity, in its brokenness, seems to beset with a critical spirit.
Often, it is our way of feeling better about ourselves. John Stott said, “We have a fatal tendency to exaggerate the faults of others and minimize the gravity of our own. We have a rosy view of ourselves and a jaundiced view of others.” Isn’t it true that we are quick to find fault in everyone else except ourselves? None of this is what Jesus wants from His disciples. Christians need a discerning, not a critical spirit. A discerning, not critical, spirit is what will preserve unity within the body of Christ, without sacrificing the integrity of the Christian faith. This week, as we continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us three instructions for cultivating a healthy spirit within the church. They’re sure to fuel church growth, if not in numbers, certainly in depth.