Summary: Events in the Bible that took place on a mountain
Mountain Moving Faith
Sermon on the Mount
From the description in the gospels and the geography Palestine, we know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount along the road that skirts the Sea of Galilee between the cities of Tiberius to Metula. The Church of the Loaves and Fish was built in the fourth century along this coastal road to commemorate the Galilean ministry of Christ. About two miles from the seaside town of Tabgha is a 330 foot hill called the “Hill of Beatitudes.” Even though Sermon on the Mound would be a more accurate description, Jesus delivered his longest discourse from this place, and the name, Sermon on the Mount, has endured throughout Christian history. Perhaps, the magnitude of the content, not just altitude, contributed to calling this message a mountain sermon.
In one hundred and eleven verses, Jesus delivered what has been labeled the “Kingdom Manifesto.” Beginning with the Beatitudes, Jesus introduced a new and radical philosophy of relating to the heavenly Father. Jesus preached about a loving God who loved “whosoever” not just religious professionals. Faith was no longer a legalistic code of restricted behavior, but a living covenant that promised blessing. The concepts declared in the Beatitudes still stand in sharp contrast to the dominating world philosophy. Pope John Paul II spoke to a group of teens in March 2000 about the difference between Christianity and modern culture. “Modern culture says, blessed are the proud. Jesus said, blessed are the poor in spirit. Culture says, blessed are the pitiless, Jesus said, blessed are the merciful. Culture says, blessed are the devious. Jesus said, blessed are the pure in heart. Culture says, blessed are those who fight. Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers. Culture says, blessed are the prosecutors. Jesus said, blessed are the persecuted.”
The pope was right on target. Jesus’ teaching still applies in the 21st century. The truth He proclaimed is not unique because it is ancient; it is special because it possesses divine authority and wisdom. Our need to embrace the radical teaching about reconstructing our heart by this first century carpenter is greater than ever. While the terms may be familiar, the truth is still fantastic.
The term Beatitude is derived from the Latin word for blessing, which is BEATUS. Several scholars have attempted to define blessing. Most definitions include reference to divine joy or happiness. Blessing is God’s favor extended to an individual resulting in positive emotion or reward. I’m convinced that pastor and author Max Lucado developed the best definition of blessing in his book, The Applause of Heaven. Blessing is sacred delight. It is God doing what gods would be doing only in your wildest dreams. It is good news coming through the back door of your heart. It is what you have always dreamed but never expected. It’s the too-good-to-be-true coming true. It is having God as your biggest fan, and your best friend. It is sacred because only God can grant it. It is delight because it thrills.1
It is this “sacred delight” that Jesus promised in the Sermon on the Mount. To an unlikely cast of character, Jesus makes incredible promises. But, the eight characters mentioned are not individual people standing in line at the Blessing Bank waiting for the next teller. These eight blessed characters provide a mental picture of the process that God leads Christ-followers through as they experience the new relationship proclaimed by Christ.
I. RECOGNIZE YOUR STATE
The first step in the process is to recognize our state. Jesus referred to spiritual condition not physical location when he promised the “kingdom of heaven” to those who are “poor in spirit.” Poverty resulting from the lack of resources is not a virtue any more than great wealth can secure entrance into God’s Kingdom. Poor in spirit is recognizing your insufficiency to earn God’s blessing. The Bible clearly teaches that all have sinned and fall short of God’s holy standard. We are sinful, yet special.
The Bible says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are special to God, but God does not love you because you are special. He loves us by divine choice and demonstrates His love by sending Christ to die for us, even though we sinned against His holy love. You can not do anything to make God love you more or less. No one possesses enough spiritual resources to purchase God’s blessing for two reasons. First, the price is too high. Holiness, purity, righteousness, glory, honor, and power transcend financial compensation. Like the popular MasterCard commercials, these things are priceless. For everything else, there is MasterCard. Second God’s sacred delight is not for sale!
“I Don’t Give A D---“ The Archbishop of Paris once told a story of three young men who were visiting the cathedral of Notre Dame. On a dare, one of the young men entered the confessional booth and made a false confession to the priest. The priest, aware that the young man was deceiving him, assigned him this penance – stand in front of the crucifix in the church, look Jesus in the eyes, and say three times, “All this you did for me, and I don’t five a d---.” The young man and his friends laughed as they entered the sanctuary. He looked into Jesus’ eyes and said, “All this you did for me, and I don’t give a d---.” The third time, he couldn’t say the words. The young man returned to the confessional booth and made a sincere confession to the priest. He went on to become a priest and eventually, became the Archbishop of Paris.