August 2 I Tuesday
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them.” —Matthew 5:1-2
The Sermon on the Mount is regarded by scholars as Jesus’s ultimate teaching on ethics and Christian living. Jesus covered a lot of ground in this sermon. He talked about righteousness, spiritual disciplines and the importance of seeking first the kingdom of God, that we prioritize our lives around His kingdom. It is interesting to note that the Sermon on the Mount was not interpreted by His disciples as an optional teaching, but actually formed the foundation of much of Jesus’s ministry and the teachings of the apostles.
In the early church, the Sermon on the Mount was turned into a catechism, where someone expounded on Jesus’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount; it was called the Didache, like a membership class to prepare people for baptism. What all this tells us is that the Sermon on the Mount was interpreted as something to be put into practice in our lives. It was intended to be a foundational teaching in the way of Jesus.
Jesus taught His disciples by giving them instructions on what it means to have a supremely blessed life, what it means to be a citizen in the kingdom of God, what it means to follow after Jesus and how to live a life with kingdom values in the here and now. Why? Because these are the same values that are going to be found in heaven, where the followers of Jesus will go when that day comes for them.
However, apart from Jesus’s disciples being present when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, there was another group there that Jesus was also directing His teaching towards—the crowd. The crowd was likely people who were coming to see Jesus because they may have heard about Him and wanted to know a bit more about Him, or people who wanted something from Jesus because He was going around doing miracles. There is a possibility that they were actually interested in being a disciple of Jesus, or maybe they were people who probably saw a big crowd gathering and were like, “Hey, what’s going on over there? Let’s go check it out!”
As we encounter the teachings of Jesus, do we find ourselves like the disciples—ready to trust and obey Jesus’s teaching—or like the crowd—curious to know more about Jesus but not ready to commit? Whichever group we find ourselves in today, Jesus once again extends the opportunity not only to hear the truth about the kingdom but also to follow Him in obedience, into the supremely blessed life found only in Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I choose not only to be a hearer of Your Word but a doer. Lead me to walk in obedience into the supremely blessed life found only in You. Thank You, Lord.