Setting the Stage for Sermon on the Mount
With the summer behind us, Little Flowers Community has decided to spend the next few months exploring The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). As a Mennonite missional community that follows a Franciscan way, an emphasis on this Sermon is fitting, as Anabaptist and Franciscan traditions both attempted to live life around this set of teachings. We are all excited to see where it leads us as a community. Before we started into the Sermon itself, however, I decided it might be a good idea for us to explore what preceded it for Jesus. And so, together we dived into Matthew 4. Here are a few of our thoughts on it.
- The chapter opens with Jesus facing temptation (which we explored in detail in another sermon). We reflected that Jesus faced His temptation alone in the wilderness. Sometimes we can view resisting temptation as a social pressure or public witness. That is, we resist because we fear consequence from our peers and/or to maintain credibility of witness to a watching world. While these two aspects have their place, Jesus’ solitude in the face of His temptation teaches us that the temptations of in our hearts and in our private moments are most critical.
- Soon after his temptation, Jesus goes out and, in the midst of his preaching of repentance, He calls His disciples to Him. Here we see that being a community of faith is no small part of the work of the Gospel. It is not incidental or a casual analogy that we are called the Body of Christ. As we die to the sins of our individual hearts, we are resurrected together as one, as His Body. To truly be an authentic community of Christ, we must be intentionally and consistently committed to submission- both to the Holy Spirit and to one another- not because we must, but because we love God and each other.
- Jesus then continues on with His disciples and begins to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed, moving powerfully and miraculously in the Spirit. Through the authority of our righteous & humble lives, out of the context of a mutually submitted community, ministry is born. Each factor contributed to leading Jesus to preaching this significantly important Sermon, calling His people to a specific way of life together.
So, it is on this foundation that we are getting ready to dive into the Beatitudes this week. I am really excited about this series and feel as though the above ideas have really prepared us to move into it.
What do you think?