Summary: Only 12, those who climbed with Jesus, got the best sermon ever preached firsthand. Only those who climb with Jesus get His best. This sermon tells stories of His climbing companions.
Matthew 5:1-2 – Climbing Companions
Deep within a forest, a little turtle began to climb a tree. After hours of effort, he reached the top, jumped into the air waving his front legs and crashed to the ground. After recovering, he slowly climbed the tree again, jumped, and fell to the ground. The turtle tried again and again, while a couple of birds sitting on a branch watched his sad efforts. Finally, the female bird turned to her mate. "Dear," she chirped, "I think it’s time to tell him he’s adopted."
Today we are looking at climbers. Let’s read just 2 verses of scripture, Matthew 5:1-2. Of course the passage goes on through the next 3 chapters to give us the Sermon on the Mount.
I’d like to read these 2 verses from the paraphrase of the Bible called The Message: “When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said.”
I like the phrase “climbing companions”. Jesus’ disciples, only 12 of them, climbed with Him up a mountain, and He taught them there. You will notice that the very best and most famous sermon ever preached, only 12 people initially heard it. It’s been shared millions and billions of times since then, but the very 1st people to hear it were very few. Only a few got the best Jesus offered.
It’s been no different through the centuries. Jesus reserves His very best for those who are His serious disciples. Jesus saves His very best teachings and truth for His climbing companions. Today I’d like to encourage you with some stories of Jesus’ climbing companions over the years. These are people who got the best teachings, who got the best insights, who saw God move in such ways most of us don’t see.
Bill and Gloria Gaither are climbing companions. In the late 1960s, while expecting their third child, they were going through a traumatic time in their lives. Bill was recovering his strength from a bout with mononucleosis. They, along with their church, were the objects of accusation and belittlement. Gloria was experiencing a time of torment, including fear of the future and of bringing children into such a crazy, mixed-up world.
As Gloria sat alone in a darkened living room, tormented, and fearful, the Lord sent a calm and peaceful rest to her. The power of the resurrection of Christ seemed to affirm itself in their lives once again. Gloria remembers the realization that it was life conquering death in the regularity of my day. The joy seemed to overcome and take precedent over frightening human circumstances. And the words of the soon-to-be-written song took effect: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” Bill and Gloria climbed with Jesus.
Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, was a climbing companion, though it wasn’t always that way. Like many young people he rebelled against his upbringing. He was raised in Scotland in a very strict Calvinist home. As a college student he quickly got rid of his rigid upbringing, which he called "the deadliest gag and wet blanket that can be laid on a man," and called himself a "youthful atheist."
As he became older, however, he began to have "doubts about his doubts." He came to see that for all its claim to wisdom, the world had no satisfying answers to the deepest questions of life. Later Robert Louis Stevenson would write, "There is a God who is manifest for those who care to look for him." Still later he would describe his own religious outlook as a "cast iron faith." RLS climbed with Jesus.
Horatio Spafford was a climbing companion. He had been a successful attorney in Chicago. He was also the father of four daughters, an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D. L. Moody.
When Mr. Moody and his music associate, Ira Sankey, left for Great Britain for an evangelistic campaign, Spafford decided to lift the spirits of his family by taking them on a vacation to Europe. He also planned to assist in the Moody/Sankey meetings there.
In November, 1873, Spafford was detained by urgent business, but he sent his wife and four daughters as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre, planning to join them soon.
Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel, and sank in 12 minutes. All four of the Spafford daughters - Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie - were among the 226 who drowned.
Mrs. Spafford was among the few who were miraculously saved.
Later, Horatio Spafford stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship carrying him to rejoin his sorrowing wife in Cardiff, Wales. When the ship passed the approximate place where his precious daughters had drowned, Spafford received sustaining comfort from God that enabled him to write the words of this hymn: ’When sorrows like sea billows roll ... It is well with my soul.” Horatio Spafford climbed with Jesus.