The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus longest sermon or piece of teaching. It is His words to His disciples, the crowd, and the religious people of the day. Jesus is not only teaching in this sermon, He is also reteaching. He is giving a more accurate view of who God is and who we are in response to that.
Much of what the religious leaders of the day had done was distort the character of God. They had made people take up “religious activity” rather than know and rest in the Truth about our Heavenly Father. Jesus is about to shift their paradigm, not only with what He teachers, but the way He teaches it.
He is teaching to His disciples, He knows the crowd is listening, and He is rebuking the religious people. All in the same sermon.
He knows His audience. He knows who’s listening, who’s learning, who’s watching from afar, and who’s waiting to pounce.
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying…” (Matthew 5:1-2)
There were crowds, and then there were disciples.
Do you notice that Matthew made it a point to make a distinction between “the crowds” and “disciples”. Not all who were gathered, listening to Jesus, were His followers.
Disciple: A learner, one who follows one’s teaching. A disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent, hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.
Which are you?
Are you like the disciples who came to Him?
Do you come close to God?
Do you follow to glean from His words? To listen, and learn?
Do you imitate Christ out of a grateful heart?
Are you like the crowd?
Watching from a distance?
Watching the show, listening, but never entering in?
Waiting for spectacular but have yet to come close enough to see Jesus face to face?
It’s easy to be a part of the crowd. You can blend in, you can seem like you’re a part of the movement, you can play the part. But remember . . . the crowd is fickle. At first, watching, following, it seems as if they could even be disciples. The crowd rejoiced, shouting “Hosanna”, during the Triumphal Entry, and days later that same crowd screamed “crucify him!”
Let’s step out of the crowd and into relationship. Let’s become a disciple. Not one who plays church or looks the part, but one who is sold out to following Christ. Complete surrender, complete trust, complete pursuit of our Teacher.
Let people know us not by the crowd we sit in, but by the One we imitate. Let’s come close to our teacher, let His word change us so our lives display what we believe!