Jesus the Teacher: Sermon on the Mount # 1
Matthew 4:23-25 – 16 January 2011
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the Jewish synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News about Jesus spread all over Syria, and people brought to Jesus all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and Jesus healed them. 25Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed Jesus.
Today, you and I live in a culture without strong moral leaders or clear moral values. So many voices are speaking from so many different perspectives that we are unable to understand how we should think, speak, and act. How do we determine what is right or wrong? How can we decide to do this or do that? On what foundation do we build our lives?
For example, everyone in our nation has the constitutional right to speak their opinions. In Charlotte, a Mecklenburg county commissioner calls homosexuals “sexual predators,” compares illegal immigrants to “drug dealers,” and says Blacks “live in a moral sewer.” His opponents call him a Nazi. The rhetoric has become intense. In public, on the internet, on talk shows, everyone has every legal right to say whatever they wish about anyone or anything.
Yet, does this public leader or his critics have the moral right to speak words that are factually untrue? Homosexuals are not sexual predators. Illegal aliens are not drug runners. Blacks do not live in a moral sewer. And the one who says all these things is not a Nazi. Does anyone have the moral right to lie and wound real men and women? Does hate speech lead us to a more just and whole society?
How do we, followers of Jesus Christ, determine for ourselves and judge others about what is appropriate to think, say, and do? On what foundation do we determine what is right or wrong? How can we decide to do this or that?
For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, we do live under a higher moral system. For people who claim Jesus Christ as their friend, our thoughts, our words, and our actions are judged by a standard established by Jesus Christ. Within the Church, we are not autonomous individuals, who can think whatever, say whatever, and act however we want. Instead, we Christians are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We are called to imitate a teacher who lived two thousand years ago.
On Sunday, we begin a new sermon series based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.