“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” [NRSA: Luke 6:27-38]
The Sermon on the hidden hillside turns the world view upside down.
The Setting on the Sea of Tiberias, Sea of Galilee
The one place thousands could gather to hear Jesus and not be seen by watchful Roman guard.
This ‘sermon’ is a collection of teachings that describe God’s kingdom how God hopes followers of Jesus will live.
So not only do we have a set of instructions, we have view of God’s nature and the perennial story of faith and God’s grace revealed throughout scripture.
God Hopes are high, even though God’s expectations are low.
The lists that Jesus teaches reveal God’s expectation is for us to struggle and fail are likely, yet God is hopeful.
- For example, God knows we look to do the least, to receive the most.
- To take the road MOST traveled, choosing what is easiest.
- God knows we are likely to follow the crowd rather than follow God.
- God knows we probably will choose to live contractually, by laws and rules, rather than covenantal,
- God guesses we will value earning our way, rather than trust, and
- Seek power in our own success, good works and self understanding.
Hear some Good News:
The teachings reveal God lives hoping we will trust! God is Hopeful!
For example: There are verses that are misused about blessing and abundance. If we give to God we can expect a good return on our investments.
It is subtle, but the intent is not that we measure our devotion by what we do, give, or earn, rather… God will use all that we do for God’s good work and witness. Bottom line, If we use God’s blessing for our glory and our comfort, they no longer reflect the kingdom, they only reflect ourselves.
The lesson here is about generosity. Give with a gratefulness, trusting God, and generosity yields generosity.
God seems to have the world backwards and upside down:
- Trust the untrustworthy
- Love the enemy
- Discern without judging
- Forgive like it is you that is being forgiven
- And do all these with hope, in generosity.
Live by Grace in a big way.
God knows we can be selfish, brutish, cruel, and controlling, and yet chooses to love and entrust the work of the kingdom on earth to be conducted through us.
“What is God thinking?’
This is where knows God is hopeful, yet expects sin to real and the choices to be difficult.
Think of the loving parent that is Hopeful the prodigal son will not squander his inheritance, and yet knowing he has, waits with Hope for his return.
Paul would ask, “So if God knows we are going to fail, fall short, and sin, then go for the gold medal?” “No!”
The sermon on the mountain teaches us what is good, right, righteous, and from the heart of God. God’s gracious invitation is to follow, trust, and try to grow in fellowship.
The world is expecting us to value wealth, excellence, and power. God has all these things. We need only trust that God loves and desires and hopes for us soooo much, that God is willing to risk the world.
God wants relationship over good works alone.
How much greater is it to know temptation and to choose what pleases God, rather than just accidentally making the correct answer…
I have wondered when archeologist look back to see that knowledge was measured by students bubbling in score cards and those who choose the arbitrary sequence of bubbled ovals receive the scholarships and opportunities, and those who choose fewer are scored as less knowledgeable. Can the correct answers and action replace the relationship and experiences? The lessons of the sermon on the mount say, “nope, not at all!”
There is more than meeting expectations. Jesus announces that he has completed the law for us, and thus calls us to follow Jesus, in relationship with God and neighbor, through Jesus, as the way of living out our faith.
Movie, “Bruce Almighty” with Jim Carry and Morgan Freeman, God seems to foolishly hands the reigns over to Jim’s character who looks for short-cuts, self-interested solutions, and skips the very nature of God…. It takes looking from God’s perspective to see what God is hoping we find.
It is these verses in Chapters 5,6,&7, The sermon on the mount, that gives us God’s perspective of hope for ourselves and each other.
What do we do with this sermon on the mount?
Does my faith serve me or God’s pleasure? Where is my hope and trust?
What do I hope God will do through my household and friendships?
What do I hope God will do through my enemies and the strangers?
What do I hope my wealth will provide for God?
What do I hope will happen in my life for God’s kingdom?
If my lists are short then maybe I need to see more of God’s perspective
If my lists are long, then I start where I currently find ourselves and whittle through.
Bottom line, following Jesus is ……..