Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sermo in Monte ~ Sermon on the Mount: Preface

It is a beautiful day for fishing.  You and your brother are casting a net out to sea.  Further down, you see two brothers and their father on the shore, mending their nets.  Seemingly out of nowhere, there appears a Man.  He approaches and calls out to you and your brother, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."

Both you and your brother are mesmerized.  You leave your nets and you follow Him.   Walking further along, He calls out to the others.  They abandon their boat, leave their father, and come along with you and your brother.  You are the four fishermen.

The journey begins.  He walks along the Sea of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching about the Kingdom, and healing people with all kinds of disease.  You have just witnessed the Teacher, Preacher, and Healer.  You are the first disciples of Jesus Christ.

His reputation spreads throughout all of Syria.  Great crowds of people walk with Him from Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. The Teacher realizes this vast crowd has been gathering, and He walks up a mount of large rocks, and sets himself down.

The four of you have been amidst the great crowd of people.  You come to Him, and it is then that He opens His mouth and begins by introducing the eight precepts of peace and happiness: blessedness.  He extrapolates from the Old Law, appearing as a paradox to some, but not to the four of you.  It is the four of you, the fishermen, his first disciples, to whom He is teaching because you are listening.  You followed without question.  The others are here perhaps for healing.  They, too, are hearing, but your lessons from the Teacher are instructions: what you will need to teach others, to prepare for His Kingdom.  He entrusts you for this reason. 

What you hear is an enduring oration of great length.  He captivates the multitude with His ethical principles that bring to life the essence of the Old Law of Moses.  You understand how this is different.  Moses came down from Mount Sinai when he spoke with the LORD.  There was great thundering and lightning, and the people were commanded to keep their distance from the mountain. Then the LORD descended upon the mountain in fire.
No, this is very different.  This mountain is not Sinai.  This mountain is a hillside, an intimate place for people to hear about the wonder and mystery of God.  His countenance is calm.  He speaks in a still and quiet voice.  He invites people to come and be near Him. 

You listen attentively while He talks about the heart of men, the inward conduct as opposed to the outward behavior.  You hear His explanations about the commandments, how murder and adultery begin in the heart.  He talks about loving your enemies, and gives an example of prayer.  This Teacher speaks about the things of the Father, of repentance and of  forgiveness. 

For the first time in your life, you realize that the Kingdom of Heaven, Basileia tōn Ouranōn, is near.

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