Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The greatest sermon ever preached!

Preached by Jesus
The Sermon on the Mount is without question the greatest sermon ever preached. Why is this? Well, to begin with it came from the lips of Jesus.

Contrary to what many think, the original sermon was probably quite long, possibly even hours long. What we have in Matthew 5-7 is a distillation of his teaching.

The Sermon on the Mount is the outline of Jesus' theology and it reflects the entirety of Scripture.

What is it's theme? Entering the kingdom of heaven.

The sermon exposes everything
Read and ponder this sermon, but read with care because you are exposing yourself to an x-ray or an MRI. These words will penetrate to the center of your soul and expose the hidden secrets of your heart. But in the end, this sermon will diagnose the problem of sin, urge us to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Read the Beatitudes, or what some have called, "The Beautiful Attitudes!" These are attitudes evident in the lives of those who call themselves followers of Jesus the King (Matthew 5: 2-11).

Explains true conversion
Recently, I read the story of the famous 1950's gangster Mickey Cohen and how he became a "Christian."

At the height of his career, Cohen was persuaded to attend an evangelistic service at which he showed a surprising interest in Christianity.

Hearing of this, and realizing what a great influence a converted Mickey Cohen could have for the Lord, some prominent Christian leaders began visiting him in an effort to convince him to accept Christ. In 1957 Time Magazine wrote a brief about Mickey Cohen meeting with Billy Graham. Cohen said, "I am very high on the Christian way of life. Billy came up, and before we had food he said—What do you call it. that thing they say before food? Grace? Yeah, grace. Then we talked a lot about Christianity and stuff."

Eventually, the word on the street was, Mickey converted. But with the passing of time no one could see evidence of conversion in Cohen's life. Finally, they confronted him with the reality that being a Christian meant he would have to give up his former way of life.

Cohen's response went something like this: there are Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians, why not a Christian gangster?

This story illustrates what is happening to many who claim to confess Christ. They attend church, engage in religious activities, but continue living as if nothing has changed. No repentance, no contrition, no joy in the Lord. They have not experienced what Jesus calls the blessedness of being poor in spirit.

During these days of Lent read through Jesus' sermon and allow it to orient our lives toward God's kingdom.

Question: Which part of the Sermon on the Mount has challenged you the most?