Lesson Forty Three
SERMON ON THE MOUNT
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I have a confession to make. I’m an eavesdropper. Oh, not like you’re thinking. I’m not someone who listens at corners for titillating gossip, but I am someone who won’t pass up the opportunity to listen at the edge of a tour group. Maybe you’ve done the same. You’re in some touristy location and a group of people have paid for a guided tour. You happen to be in the same area, and you linger on the edge of the group to pick up information as the docent leads the tour.
The Sermon on the Mount was something like that. Jesus went up the side of a mountain. He did this to teach His disciples. This was His primary objective, as they gathered around Him, but it was a public area and those passing by couldn’t help but listen to the words being said. More and more drew near until the side of the mountain was filled with people eavesdropping on all Jesus had to say.
More and more drew near until the side of the mountain was filled with people eavesdropping on all Jesus had to say.
Jesus had previously traveled throughout Galilee “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). Intrigued and excited, the people who found themselves seated on the side of the mountain did so filled with expectation. They were ready for Jesus to reveal His plan that would conquer Roman rule, regain the greatness of Israel, and establish this new kingdom. But as they listened to His words, what they heard was quite different.
It wasn’t the rich or the powerful, but the poor, sorrowful, and meek who were blessed. Salt wasn’t about food, and light wasn’t about illumination. Murder, adultery, divorce, revenge, and promises were expanded. It wasn’t only the act, but the thought that made a difference. We were to love, not conquer enemies. Being wealthy wasn’t important, and worrying helped no one. Instead, ask, seek, and knock, because God will fulfill all needs.
Typically eavesdropping is a conversation not meant for your ears; information secretly discovered. Jesus turned eavesdropping upside down as He taught in a place that tempted people to listen in. He depended on their curiosity so they would discover the unexpected. The kingdom of God was the secret He openly shared to all who chose to listen.
The kingdom of God was the secret He openly shared to all who chose to listen.
When was the last time you “eavesdropped” on Jesus? It’s easy to do—linger in the Scriptures. Discover His words and listen for the unexpected. What’s the surprising message that He is sharing with you today? Take the time to discover God’s kingdom and be renewed.
If one studies the synoptic gospels we can piece together the events leading up to the Sermon on the Mount. It is thought that the sermon was given about halfway through Jesus’ three and one half years of ministry.
Jesus first spent the night in prayer. The next day he ordained the 12 disciples. The Sermon on the Mount followed. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (vol. 5, p. 322) reveals the appointment of the 12 disciples to be the first step in organizing the Christian Church. Jesus was the King with the disciples the first charter members or subjects. It was then appropriate on this first day for the King to give an inaugural address defining His kingdom.
Making it Real
I have to confess to also loving a good sermon. I’ve turned into a bit of a sermon junkie, but not just any sermon. I enjoy a sermon that presents something new; that makes me think; that demonstrates the individual preaching has spent time in study with God.
The internet allows one to find any number of sermons that meet this need, both within Adventism and in other denominations. If you have a favorite preacher, find a sermon, even one you might have heard before and listen with new ears. Or try listening to a new preacher that can open up your mind to Jesus.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.