Sermon on the Mount
Mosaic in Sant' Apollinare in Ravenna
(my apologies for not knowing the source of this graphic)
While searching for a graphic, I found this one, posted by an Andrea, but no name and no response from the website where I sought permission. I chose it because it was from an older mosaic and because of the composition. We are told that Jesus saw multitudes, then went to a mountain where his disciples came to Him. Did the multitudes hear the sermon? Questions without answers. In other places, the Bible carries specific answers.
I chose the subject from a book I ran across while moving stuff around on my computer desk – notes from church services in 2008. The reference was Matthew 5:1-12 and the title “How Christians Should Be.” I find that many people on the internet are very specific as to how Christians should be. Let’s do a bit of study on Jesus’ description.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 KJV)
These are the beginners who just recognized their need for God. I like the way John Wesley commented on this verse:
"They who are unfeignedly penitent, they who are truly convinced of sin; who see and feel the state they are in by nature, being deeply sensible of their sinfulness, guiltiness, helplessness."This is where we become aware that life is spiritual, too. Continued study takes us to Luke 18:9-14 where Jesus introduces us to two men. One is very aware of shortcomings – in other people; and one who is aware of his own. Jesus also tells us that only one of them went home justified.
People often become defensive when they hear they are in a state of sin, believing they are living lives that (by society’s standards) are good. Acceptance that we are sinners comes with requirements, responsibilities and consequences.
In several places are are given God’s requirements. My favorite is:
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8 KJV)
My least favorite example is because the man disobeyed God after receiving years of blessings:
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22-23 KJV)
I believe that happens today – “Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee . . . .” – and I know the consequences had I rejected Him. The kingdom I would have lost is much greater than Saul’s.