“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
It’s amazing what I’ve seen in my lifetime, how the Sermon on the Mount in one way or another is pushed to the side as being irrelevant for the present day. It’s been said it’s for the kingdom age to come. Or it was only for the time Jesus was proclaiming it. Or that it’s law not grace, given only to help people know they can’t do any of what Jesus teaches, so that they’ll accept God’s grace in forgiveness of their sins through Christ’s sacrificial death.
But Jesus says that those who follow his teaching by putting it into practice are like the wise man who built his house on rock unlike those who fail to follow his teaching, they being like the foolish man who built his house on sand. And the rest of the New Testament echoes what Jesus taught, so that it’s evident the early church took the Sermon on the Mount quite seriously.
The Sermon on the Mount deals with heart issues. The religious leaders Jesus critiqued were all about doing certain religious rituals scrupulously, but utterly failed in their hearts. So Jesus’s sermon gets to the heart of things on specific issues.
I was raised in a church of a denomination which traditionally considers the Sermon on the Mount central to their teaching. I left that church fairly early on in my Christian life, influenced by someone to go another direction. But some years later I returned to something of that emphasis. But not being near a church which teaches that didn’t help me remain in it. That is still the case, though I know there are Christians sprinkled in different churches who more or less hold to the sermon’s importance.
Not long ago I prayed I might know Christ better. And that’s when an emphasis on the Sermon on the Mount came into my consciousness again, along with Jesus’s teaching about cross bearing. Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10, his desire to be like Jesus in his death.
Another reason the Sermon on the Mount began to take on a renewed, new significance to me is because I found attitudes in myself that were not helpful. I knew I must not harbor anger and disgust at others. And that I must forgive. So there was also an element of necessity in the recent change for me.
It’s not like the Sermon on the Mount is the route to success or the breakthrough into “the deeper Christian life.” It’s definitely not easy because we have so much to unlearn, along with much needed change. So we need to be patient and plod on. Intent on following Jesus by listening to him, and seeking to practice what he taught and did. The Sermon on the Mount being a good place to start.