Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Colonnade and shops in Bath, England

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why Is the Sermon On the Mount So Challenging?


We started a teaching series on the Sermon On the Mount back in March of this year. I was praying and discussing with our Elders where we would head next after our "Travels with Paul" series out of Acts. Unable to come to a decision and without a clear leading, I said, "I'd like to do the Beatitudes as a short series while we continue to pray". They readily agreed and I began preparation.

My initial studies revealed that the Beatitudes were much deeper and more profound than I originally thought. As is usually the case, the series took longer than I anticipated, a circumstance those who are familiar with my teaching were not surprised by in the least. I was not only intrigued by the things we were learning, but, as a group, we were being challenged and refined
weekly as we progressed through the first 12 verses of Matthew 5.
As the series began to draw to a close, I realized that we were about to abandon the rest of the Sermon after having covered only the introduction. "Well, we might as well go through the whole Sermon." I thought.

God works in mysterious ways.

I was totally unprepared for what followed Matt 5:12. I'm not talking about unprepared to preach. I try to work as hard as I can to relate what the passage I'm preaching says rather than to concoct an object lesson to make the passage fit my idea of what I should be teaching. This requires a lot of work in the passage to allow the sermon to rise up out of the passage with some clarity and faithfulness to what the original author wrote. So, I was prepared to preach. But I was unprepared for the deeply profound nature of the lessons found in the first few passages following the Beatitudes.

Anyone who has properly taught a Sunday School class, led a Bible study or delivered a sermon knows that the very first person you teach/preach to is yourself. If the lesson does not impact, challenge or change you, you can't expect it to have an effect on anyone else. I really enjoyed and was nourished by the Beatitudes but what came immediately after them had a sledge hammer impact compared to what Matt 5:1-12 taught us.

Once we dove into the material, there was a wealth of teaching and a serious challenge to our ideas about our Christian walk in nearly every verse. So, I began to wonder what this was all about. "Why is this so heavy-hitting?" I asked myself.

Duh!

I went back to the first sermon we did on the Beatitudes. My words were, "This is the greatest sermon ever preached." This is true. But even more than that, it was delivered by the
only Son of God. Delivered by someone who spoke with so much authority that He amazed the rabbis in the Temple when He was only twelve years old. Delivered by the one human being who was untainted by sin and therefore had unhindered communion with the Holy Spirit and His Father in heaven. Delivered by the Author of all Scripture.

Furthermore, it was the manifesto of the New Covenant. The formal guidelines for how the followers of Christ would live and exemplify the gospel after He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father until His return. It was a radical and singular event in the history of the world as Jesus reinterpreted the Law and gave His marching orders to those who belonged to Him.

In short, it is the most significant sermon ever preached delivered by the best preacher who will ever walk on the face of the Earth, or anywhere else, for that matter.

So, my goal is not to preach it anew...but to deliver the best explanation of it that I can muster. My constant prayer this that I can speak with accuracy and clarity with the help of the Holy Spirit who is the only One that can have any true impact. I'm really blessed and humbled to be able to even approach the pulpit with these lessons. I'm excited about where they will take us, as a church family. I hope you are as well.

If you've missed any of the sermons and would like to get caught up, you can listen to them or download them here.

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