the missing sermon from the Bible

I am increasingly convinced that Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7; see his corresponding Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6) is essentially off the radar for many Christians, not a real consideration at all. And the ironic thing is that Jesus ends that sermon (both sermons) with the analogy of the man who built his house either on the rock, or on sand. That this teaching from our Lord is actually foundational.

I believe our heart by the Holy Spirit is often better than our heads. Christians often have a kind of sixth sense, so to speak, by the Spirit, so that they do much better in life, akin for example to what our Lord says about loving our enemies, etc., in the sermon. And those whose theology actually takes it out of consideration can be grace-filled, loving believers. But good theology, Biblical interpretation, and God’s written word matters. We need to be in all of it from Genesis through Revelation. And certain passages need to be underlined and probably emphasized depending on the culture in which one lives. Surely the Sermon on the Mount fills a needed dearth among many Christians in the United States.

We must beware of seeking to apply these words of our Lord to nations and unbelievers. Rather, they are for believers and followers of Jesus. But we must apply them, indeed. We can respect and want the US Constitution and foundation for this nation to be adhered to for the continuation of this liberal democratic state, liberal not in the way spoken of today, but according to what was meant at the nation’s inception, though much of what carries over from that might logically follow. But for us in Jesus, we need to be in all of the word, and Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount should certainly be a staple of our thinking and living. Along with my psalm, Old/First Testament, and New/Final Testament reading, I read from either the Sermon on the Mount, or the Sermon on the Plain, daily. Hopefully more and more of that will soak in and make a difference. Something for the entire church to help make the difference that’s needed in our lives and witness in and through Jesus.

 

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Jesus’s word which only faith accepts

Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.

John 3

Jesus’s words to a religious leader of Israel still ring loud and clear and true for us today. Jesus spoke a word in words, from the Father. That is why they have a telling effect for all who believe. Jesus preached the gospel because he preached himself. He did it out of the utmost humility, having humbled himself in the Incarnation by becoming one of us, and taking that much further to the death of the cross for the worst from and of us. Jesus himself was a word from the Father, indeed the final Word, revealing God to us, “full of unfailing love and faithfulness” (John 1:14).

This is the one word we in Jesus should speak, as well as by grace live and if need be die for. No other words, as important as they are, are on that same level. Though through that word, those lesser words might be shaped and perhaps could begin to share in its life and purpose, either directly or indirectly.

The world spoken by Jesus of Jesus is the word by which we in Jesus live, and which we should share with others, so that they too may come into this new life. The life who entered this world as a little baby boy so many years ago.

remaining in the word

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:7

I would have done well to have quoted the following verse to begin this post:

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:8

After all, we’re centered on Christ, not strictly speaking on scripture itself, though it is scripture which brings us to that. In the past, when the 2011 edition of the NIV came out, I bought one at a good price, but with that (like most NIV Bibles, due to popular demand), the words of Jesus are printed in red. They are called, “red letter Bibles,” and it seems like they constitute the majority of Bibles sold to Bible readers. It took me awhile, but I finally made peace with that part of my Bible, and although I prefer all black letter, I don’t seem to be bothered in the least by that now.

The passage above is about keeping Jesus’ words in our hearts and minds. I remember one of Rich Mullins’ lines:

Well, I memorized every word that You said

Hard to Get

Yes. Bible memorization, I might argue, surely would be better, if we started out by memorizing all the words of our Lord, most of which we find in the gospel accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What I’m referring to, even though it is Christ-centered, is an emphasis on being in the word, all of scripture. That ends up, again, being Christ-centered for us who are followers of Jesus, because that is in significant part, the end goal of scripture.

Last week (and we’re still just as challenged, in a way) I was inundated with this and that, and coupled with some lack of discipline, and surely not enough sleep, I was behind in my regimen of Bible reading, in fact I wasn’t getting much read at all. Although it may be good to take some short breaks from that, and simply be in silence, or at least to read less for a time, I found it telling on me. We had an important meeting at our church, and I felt out of it insofar as how I normally am plugged in, so to speak, so that the kind of contribution I might make seemed largely if not completely lacking.

And so I renewed myself, at the beginning of the week, to be devoted to being in the word, and hopefully along with that, prayer. I find for myself, it must start in the word, and that prayer comes from that in the ordinary course and order of things for me.

There is much in the word, so much. We do well to remain in it from Genesis through Revelation, certainly in all of Jesus’ words, seeking to grow in our understanding and practice of such, and therefore to grow in our faith. Together in Jesus in his life and mission in the world.