This is how the Sermon on the Mount passage begins. One might think there is nothing to be taught in verses that set up the scene. I think we can learn a great deal if we simply read through each passage prayerfully and carefully, both “listening” for God to speak to us and as we “hear” Him to act in obedience. I was taught that to “hear” God is to obey God.
The first phrase---SEEING the crowds---taught me something as I read through it this morning. Everywhere Jesus went, masses of people followed Him. They were seeking something from Him and pressed upon Him. The scripture records elsewhere that He saw the “multitudes,” that He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd,” and that we were go out into the harvest field. So, He SAW the multitudes---but here the word SEE takes preeminence.
Reading that this morning, I sensed not simply viewing the mass of people before Him, but I also visualized my Lord looking into my very being and truly seeing me for who I am; where I hurt; how I live my life; what I truly need to find fulfillment in life. These people that had come to Jesus had come with their own needs/agendas/desires, and Jesus SAW them (their hearts), He began to teach them. He spoke, and to find what they (we) really needed, they needed to HEAR Him and act in obedience.
In the mass of people that would “follow” Jesus, there were Scribes and Pharisees seeking to catch Him in something that would reduce His impact on their “turf.” There were those in need of healing, and the sick would often cry out loudly for healing. There were some who wanted to see Him destroy the Romans – they had a political agenda that did not align with the purpose of Jesus’ coming to this earth. Some people were just plain curious. When we read the scripture, we see often that people would jostle (push, shove) one another to get a closer look to Jesus. We see this also in the account of the healing of the woman who pressed in to simply touch the hem of His garment.
As the news spread about Jesus, it seemed as if the crowds would drop all they were doing and rush to be in His presence. They came for whatever reason, but they needed to HEAR Jesus and follow Him! In this account, Jesus SAW the crowd of people and He began to teach what we reefer to as the Beatitudes – what we need to understand to experience the blessings of God.
I don’t know how I really see the setting of the Sermon on the Mount. I see a crowd pushing and shoving, seeking their own agenda. This would mean there would be a noisy buzz in the crowd. Yet, I see a serene setting of Jesus sitting on the mountain, lovingly (and quietly) speaking these words to the mass of people. However, I noticed something as I read these verses that taught me something “new.”
Note: Jesus SAW the crowd, but His disciples came to Him and He began to teach “them.” Isn’t this saying that as the crowds closed in around the disciples, all became quiet. At that point, Jesus delivers what we have named the "Sermon on the Mount." But it appears Jesus was actually teaching his twelve disciples these truths. Those in the crowd closest to them were also treated to the most profound teaching ever heard.
This same Jesus is our Teacher. He has wisdom to share with us that will amaze us, just as it did to those who heard Him with their own ears that day. We do not have to be sitting in a quiet sanctuary or a Sunday School class for Jesus to teach us. As we read His Word daily and LISTEN to Him, we can learn from Him. He can teach us something no matter where you are, even in a noisy crowd. His sheep KNOW His voice and FOLLOW Him! We need to pay close attention when Jesus speaks to us (through His Word, the teaching/preaching/proclamation of others, etc.) so we don't miss the word He has for us!
Like the crowds of that day, we come with a lot of hurts, personal needs, private agendas, and a lot of baggage. We may even come thinking we “know” the answer. The answer my friends, is NOT found “blowing in the wind.” The ANSWER is found in Christ Jesus so we need to LISTEN UP for and to His voice, HEAR what He is saying to us, and act in OBEDIENCE. It is my prayer we will HEAR Him today, and experience the abundant blessings He offers to all who follow Him.