Living within the Reign of God: Sermons 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
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 preached through the last portion of Epiphany and through Lent, I explored with Central Woodward Christian Church this important statement of what is often called the “Kingdom Ethic.” I now offer it to you as we begin Holy Week. Below you will find links to each of the sermons as published here at Ponderings on a Faith Journey (audio is available for many of the sermons at the CWCC sermon page).
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 6:19-34
March 27 Judge not, lest Ye . . . Matthew 7:1-14
April 3 Judgment Day Matthew 7:15-23
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].