Not long after Christ's 40 days in the wilderness, he began His ministry in Galilee. He began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Also, He called His first disciples.
I noticed their introduction to ministry with the Messiah included teaching, preaching, and healing. The people all throughout Syria brought Him:
" . . . all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them" (Matthew 4:24b).
It is after seeing these multitudes that He went up on a mountain to teach His disciples. I can only imagine their thoughts and perhaps confusion.
After all they had just seen and experienced following this Master, now He begins to preach a sermon that was so different from the approach of the Law.
The Law dealt with outward actions. We too can sometimes get focused on these external appearances. Our actions often seem so much easier to evaluate and to consider in our accountability.
Jesus, however, begins this Sermon on the Mount with such a description of someone who is righteous on the inside: poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake (Matthew 5:3-10).
Actually, the example of the Sermon on the Mount is even more difficult to achieve than even the Ten Commandments and the demands of the law of Moses. Why? These are issues of the heart and can only be achieved when Christ has performed a heart-change through conversion. I cannot achieve these righteous attitudes of the heart on my own. Only through Christ and because of Christ can I hope for such inner righteousness.
You see, on my own, my righteousness is nothing.
"but we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6).
Perhaps the Law and this opening of the Sermon on the Mount have more in common that one might first think. They both point to our sinfulness and reveal our deepest need: the need for a Savior.
Have you depended upon your own "righteousness," or have you been saved and changed by the Master?
In the Heart of our Home,