Sunday, May 18, 2014

World’s Best Known Sermon: Stoney Creek Sermonette No. 2

View Sea of Galilee


The world’s best known preacher has had his most famous sermon read by more people than any other preacher ever to preach a sermon at anytime anywhere in the world.  This sermon has probably been quoted and used as the subject of at least one sermon by every preacher who ever stood before a congregation.  Lines from this sermon can be found in books down through the ages and on the lips of folks of all ages.  Of course, I am speaking of what is referred to as the “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in the book of Matthew in the New Testament preached by Jesus during His ministry on earth. There is also what is referred to as “The Sermon on the Plain” recorded in the book of Luke (6:17-49).  Some scholars think they are the same sermon just told differently and other scholars consider them taking place on totally different occasions.  I will be using the account in Matthew and I am referring to the “Sermon on the Mount.”

No matter how often this sermon is quoted and how much it is loved, “The Sermon on the Mount” is a problem for every person who ever decided to become a Christian.  For example, the words of what is called the beatitudes may be beautiful, but their meaning makes for a difficult path to follow.  They express succinctly the values on which Jesus placed priority. 

Each beatitude starts with the word blessed which is a state of well-being in which your soul is in a healthy relationship with God.  So 5:9 could read, “All is well with the souls of the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”   The question is where are the peacemakers?

Where are the “poor in spirit” that have recognized deep within themselves that they are spiritually bankrupt without total submission to the will of God?  Are not we all too self-centered to do that?

Where are the “meek”?  Are there people who will not try to advance themselves ahead of others and at the other person’s expense?

Do we as a people show mercy and can you see a pure heart in yourself?  When I look within I do not find a pure heart.

Can we call ourselves a nation of peacemakers?

When was the last time you were persecuted because of your righteous?

Some theologians and some Christians will tell you that the beatitudes were just to describe a moral standard so impossibly high that it is relevant only for a future millennial kingdom. Others have thought its primary purpose was to portray the absoluteness of God’s moral perfection.  They are simply trying to rationalize not having to live up to the moral code Jesus clearly taught.

The sermon Jesus preached/taught on that mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee is the sermon most important to us today.  Yes, the Good News of His death, burial and resurrection is the Gospel to be preached, but the “Sermon on the Mount” tells us how Jesus expects us to live if we are to be followers of Him.  People do not have as much trouble with becoming a believer as living a life as described in the “Sermon on the Mount.”   

Later on in this sermon we find these words.

The Golden Rule
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
(Matthew 7:12-14 ESV)

© Ed Cooper, 5/18/14, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
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