As I pondered the blog for tonight on the last verses of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, I thought about how we normally view sermons. We view them as exhortations to righteousness and quite often, they are. I believe the Sermon on the Mount is that, but I believe there is something unique about that sermon and it is laid out in these final verses.
Jesus is making a covenant offer to the people as I said at the beginning and letting them know what kingdom people are to be like. In the end, he is challenging his listeners to see if they will be ready to take up that mantle. Are they going to become his followers and thus be kingdom people or are they going to try and go about their lives another way?
The consequences are severe. If there is any aspect in this part that Christ is stressing, it is on how great the fall is if the covenant is not held to. The house may look impressive, but it will not stand. When the day of judgment comes on that house, that house will fall for the foundation could not hold it.
We can have all of our nice little moral theories, but we need a foundation for them. Too often, we treat morality as if it’s just something floating in the air as it were. It has no basis, but we will just take it and go with it. Morality does have a basis though. It is rooted in the eternally existing God.
Jesus is giving us a choice. We can build up our kingdoms on our own principles or we can build up his kingdom on his principles. Milton’s Satan said it was better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven. Which is our choice? Will we choose to have a kingdom that will take us away from Christ, or will we take part in the kingdom of Christ and be servants in it always?
That’s one of the unique characteristics of Christ. Every worldview has to deal with him in some way. You can write him off as a myth as some atheists do or just make him a good moral teacher or a cynic sage. You can make him simply a prophet like is done in Islam, even if he is given great honor in Islam. You can make him an avatar like in some circles of Hinduism. Every group wants to try to claim Jesus as their own in some way.
Jesus cannot be a part of someone else’s way. He calls the shots. It is either his way or you don’t go. When we Christians say Jesus is the only way to God, we mean it. Any other attempt to get into Heaven on one’s own terms is an attempt to usurp the throne of God.
Christ has made a proclamation in the Sermon on the Mount. We dare not write this off as simple moral advice on how to live. Yes. There is morality all throughout the Sermon. The Sermon though is a challenge. It is a challenge to come and follow Christ. There is no neutral ground to reply on. We either say “Yes, that is how I choose to live” or “No, that is not how I choose to live.”
Christ has told us the consequences of each. The question we must ask is “Is he telling the truth or not?” If he is, then the wisest thing to do is follow him. If you think he’s not though, then you’d better be right!