Monday, January 24, 2011

Living within the Reign of God: A Sermon Series on the Sermon on the Mount

The “Sermon on the Mount” is the best known and perhaps most challenging speeches/sermons from the Gospels. It’s not a mere compilation of sayings attributed to Jesus, but in the hands of Matthew it becomes a tightly organized and powerful speech that lays out for us Jesus’ vision of what life in God’s Realm should like. It is a rather radical, even revolutionary vision that challenges the way we live our lives in this world. It calls on us to examine our allegiances, and asks us whether we’re willing to live for God or for some other claimant – including our nation. It is to be noted that standing at the center of this sermon is the Lord’s Prayer, which serves as a pledge of allegiance to God and the cause of God’s reign. In the course of Jesus’ sermon, he touches on our calling to be salt and light, reworks the nature of the Law, refocuses our worship, and calls on us to live lives of loving kindness. It closes with warnings of judgment and a call to build our lives of faith on strong foundations.

Although this sermon series begins with Matthew 5:1, the setting for the sermons begins in Matthew 4:23 and continues through 4:25:

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.  (Mt. 4:23-25 NRSV).

Having ministered among the people of Galilee and with people coming from as far away as Jerusalem in the south and Syria to the north, Jesus gathers the people together on the mountain top (in Luke it is on a plain), and shares his message of what God’s kingdom looks like.

In the course of nine sermons that will take us up to Palm Sunday, we will explore this important statement of what is often called the “Kingdom Ethic.” The question is – are we meant to live it now, or must we await a different age when we no longer face the challenges and temptations of this life? That is, should we simply admire the idea, but leave it aside as being unrealistic for the present day? Or, should we model our lives upon its statement?


  • January 30         Happy People?                          Matthew 5:1-12
  • February 6         Light Bearing Faith                    Matthew 5:13-20
  • February 13       Law and Order                          Matthew 5:21-37
  • February 27      The Law of Love                        Matthew 5:38-48
  • March 13          Putting on a Show                      Matthew 6:1-18
  • March 20          What Should I Desire Most?       Matthew 6:19-31
  • March 27          Judge not, lest Ye . . .                 Matthew 7:1-14
  • April 3              Judgment Day                            Matthew 7:15-2
  • April 10            Laying Strong Foundations         Matthew 7:24-29

“The faith-community of the blessed is the community of the Crucified. With him they lost everything, and with him they found everything. Now the word comes down from the cross: blessed, blessed.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship. DBW Vol. 4. (Fortress Press, 2001), p. 109].

Sermon series to be shared with the congregation of
Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Troy, MI

2 comments:

keithwatkinshistorian said...

Bob, a series on these texts will be challenging to develop, but the effort should be worth it. I look forward to the sermons.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Keith,

Thank you for the word of encouragment. I'm looking forward to seeing where this takes us. The challenge will be keeping a sense of continuity across the series.

Although I've generally preached from the lectionary I've started venturing out to do a sermon series once in a while.

I'll value your thoughts on the journey.