The Sermon on the Mount is considered one of the greatest sermons of all time. But what many don’t pay attention to in this passage is who Jesus is actually talking to.
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up to a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and he began to teach them.” —Matthew 5:1
Jesus is addressing His disciples in this moment, while the crowds are gathering below to listen. When Jesus taught the multitudes, He would speak in parables, but with His disciples, He would speak in more clear, direct terms. As Jesus was teaching these men what it means to be His disciple, you can imagine what was going on in their heads… “All this? I thought we were going to follow You and help you make miracles happen and heal thousands!” While Jesus was telling them what it took to be His follower, He was asking them, “Are you willing to take up your cross and follow Me?”
Jesus is laying out some hard truths to these men: they are to be salt and light to the whole earth, fulfilling the law, keeping away from hearts filled with murder and adultery, going the second mile every time, loving their enemies, doing good to please God, and laying up treasures only in Heaven.
But Jesus doesn’t only leave them with a to-do list of responsibilities, He teaches them about the hope that they have with Him.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”—Matthew 7:24-27
If you are going to walk as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you need to build your life on what He says. For three and a half chapters in Matthew, Jesus is laying down teaching about how we are to live our lives. Culture says that we are to live however we feel—that truth is optional. They say that if it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it. But Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Everyone is building their lives on something. That something may be money, fame, comfort, security, etc… But Jesus gives us the materials with which we are to build our lives for eternal hope and security. These materials are not for a temporary escape from the storm, they’re lasting.
We are all going to hit storms, hard times are coming to everyone—it’s life. The unexpected is going to happen—the unpredictable disappointment that you never thought would happen to you. But when we place our hope and confidence in Jesus Christ—the One who defeated death and conquered our fears—we have no need for a temporary fix. When we build our hope of the words of Jesus Christ, He becomes the magnet that pulls us through whatever hard time we are facing.
When persecution comes, you will take it personally if you haven’t been meditating on God’s truth. But if you arm yourself with the truth of Scripture, you know that whatever comes is the Lord’s way—it’s all in His hands. We need to set our minds on things above so that when persecution comes, we stand strong in the storm.
As we sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from His Word, we find our hope—our eternal security in the teaching that He offers us as those who have repented from our former lives and live in the new reality of Kingdom discipleship.
—LaMorris Crawford, Chaplain of the Cincinnati Bengals
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