Abide Together: Reflections on Matthew 5

Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount to his disciples right after they were chosen to follow him. I’m struck today by the ideas that must have been swirling around in their heads. These guys were working their trades and then dropped it all to follow Jesus. The fact that they were working means that they had already quit their formal education. They were no longer in the Jewish educational system and would have never even been considered as disciples for any other rabbi. When Jesus calls them, he changed everything. Traditionally a student approached a rabbi to ask if he could follow him, but Jesus turn the whole thing around. The disciples had to be thinking things like: “What is this guy thinking? I’m not smart enough to be a disciple. I’m just a regular ole fisherman.” The scribes and Pharisees liked to make all the people feel these things too. No one could fulfill the law and they loved to point it out. So with this understanding, I’m struck be Jesus’ first official words to his disciples. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are the pure in heart….Blessed are the those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…You are the salt of the earth.” I can almost hear the disciples responding, “You ain’t kiddin’. You don’t get any saltier than us.” But Jesus reassures them and lays out a crazy idea. “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” He believed in them. He was calling them to live out something more than they ever imagined. He raises the bar in regards to adultery, calls them to “turn the other cheek” and to “love your enemies.” This is the foundation that Jesus lays out for them – for what will become the next few years of their lives. One commentary even relates it to an ordination of sorts. The disciples were feeling honored for sure, but probably also inadequate and confused a bit as well. I can relate. I feel the same way – honored, inadequate, confused.

The good news is that He is with me. Even though he’s calling me to impossible tasks, He is also going with me (and will go before me too) and will empower me by His Spirit.

Prayer: Jesus, I have chosen to follow you. I am your disciple. Teach me. I want to serve You in all that I do. Make Your presence known to me and push me into situations where I can be an instrument for Your glory. AMEN.    

– Steve Corn

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