WHAT is the point of the Sermon on the Mount if it’s so impossible to obey? It seems only momentarily sustainable in obedience terms. But perhaps we are missing the point if we think too legalistically or statistically (i.e. percentage of obedience versus percentage of disobedience).
Jesus never wanted to turn us off because his teaching was ‘too hard’ to obey.
But I wonder if he wanted to teach us something we could not learn otherwise.
I wonder, when we think of the impossible — in standards for obedience — whether it simply propounds the eternal importance, significance, and countenance of grace.
In other words, to come to the end of ourselves — ‘I cannot do this without God’s help’ — is a great gift of grace, for “his grace is sufficient for you” in all our many trials.
If we couple this sense of dependence on God as the only hope we have of obeying with the right heart of obeying, we find ourselves deep centre in the mood of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) — the actual mood and heart of Jesus, himself.
Who do we picture as the blessed of the Beatitudes? Jesus himself.
If we found ourselves in the Person of the Beatitudes — that reversal, where the lowly of heart are the highly of faith — we find ourselves more of the heart of obedience to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.
Tough asks of Jesus are not really the point. We don’t say to God, “Can you not make it a little easier to obey, please, and thank you very much?”
God makes it possible for us to obey the Sermon on the Mount, but strict obedience, again, misses the central point. We don’t obey for obedience’s sake. We obey because we know it is right. We want to obey!
Can you see the heart in such a moral position?
God is always more interested in our heart than the quantity or quality of our obedience.
Jesus wants us to know that obedience is right, not that obedience is necessary. There is a subtle distinction there.
If we know obedience is right we will obey more than if we think that it’s necessary.
Jesus gets to the heart of matters because he is interested principally in our hearts. When the heart is won, everything else follows.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. In what ways has the Sermon on the Mount confused you or overwhelmed you?
2. If your heart is in something, what do you find is the result?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.