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For 2000 years many Christians have considered the Sermon on the Mount to be the most important words in the whole Bible. You would think that the words considered to be spoken by Jesus and written down would be easily interpreted and followed.

But over the centuries these words have been debated more than followed. Some parts of the sermon are either so problematic or difficult that they’ve been left alone by preachers and teachers. Try these statements of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and see how you like them: “anyone who says you fool is in danger of hell fire” . . . “if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” . . . “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the left also!” . . . “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” 

Jesus is either nuts, the gospel writers were playing a cruel joke on us, or he’s serious. And these are hard teachings. We're not able to do these teachings without some serious help from God. 

So here's the thing: Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with blessings, and he blesses the people who are most desperate for them: the poor, the humble, those who are persecuted, those who mourn.

I wrote a book with Randy Harris on the Sermon on the Mount called, Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount, so I've read, studied, memorized parts, prayed about the words and have come back to them over and over.

Here's one of the things I love best about the Sermon on the Mount: Jesus knows that we can’t follow him until we know his blessing. Randy Harris said in our book, "I'm convinced the world needs the blessing of God in order to practice the words of the Sermon on the Mount."

We're not talking about, “Have a blessed day," which is sort of a code to show someone you are a Christian. We're talking about truly living under the powerful blessing of God even in those times when you think you are anything but blessed.

The Sermon on the Mount begins with blessings, not commands—blessings for people who usually aren’t. What about you? Do you believe you’re blessed by God? There are a lot more losers in the world than there are winners. Regardless of what your world says, this is the truth of the matter: In God’s eyes you are blessed.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Jesus comes into the world and his first words are "blessed are you." We have to have this blessing to do what Jesus calls us to do. Do you believe you’re blessed by God? How are you blessed by God?
  • Be what you already are. In what ways has God placed you in a position and provided what you needed before you realized you could do what He was asking you to do?

ACTION STEPS

Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount: In order to cultivate the life of meekness or humility, here are some exercises to practice over a period of one to two weeks:

  • Speech: When someone compliments you, respond with a simple “Thank you.” When you fail, give no excuses. Simply say, “I’m sorry.”
  • In every interaction with others, take a posture of listening rather than talking.
  • Dress: Do not wear clothing that leads to pride or self-consciousness.
  • Work: Do “dirty jobs” like washing dishes or pulling weeds or serving someone alone and in secret if at all possible.
  • Read Philippians 2. The humility of Jesus is at the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. Remember, the goal is not to think less of ourselves but to think of ourselves less.

Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He's been with the church since 2005 and has preached since 2009. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.

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