By William C. Sexton
Most people who know anything about the New Testament have heard of the “Sermon on the Mount.” Such description is give to that portion of Jesus’ teaching which is found in the fifth through the seventh chapters of Matthew.- Fewer people, no doubt, have heard of the sermon in the plain. Such description is given to that portion of Jesus’ teachings as recorded by Luke (6:17-49). 1 would like to make a few observations relative to this sermon.
As the teachings in this portion of Scripture are so much like those in Matthew’s account, yet not exactly identical, some significant implications can be drawn from such. Perhaps a pondering of such for awhile will result in a better appreciation for God’s word as well as for others in our time, re-evaluating our mission.
1. The truth that Jesus delivered to mankind was not just spoken to one group of people, at one time, and then left to be recorded. Rather, what He spoke on the mountain, he spoke in the plain, too. Much like a political figure, as he travels from community to community delivering the same message, so did Jesus with the Message from heaven! Observation. Preachers and teachers of God’s word, today, often present the same message to different audiences, at different times and places! As one has well said, “If a sermon is worth presenting once, it’s worth presenting a second time.”
2. The truth that Jesus presented was not verbatim repeats. The principles of truth were stated in different ways and adapted to different audiences, either extending or shortening the statements, promises, conditions, etc., at times, as evidenced by Luke.
Examples of variation: (1) “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3); “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk. 6:20). (2) “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4); “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now for ye shall laugh” (Lk. 6:21).
Observation: At times it is appropriate for a preacher or teacher of God’s word to give an expanded or shortened lesson, setting forth basic truth; at times it is more appropriate to speak, using the third person, indirectly rather than second person, directly and personally!
3. Every aspect of the truth cannot be fully presented and expanded upon every time one has an audience, an opportunity to speak, as evidenced by Jesus and recognized by intelligent person. Yet, the basic kernel of eternal truth cannot be altered for any person or group of persons any time or any where!
Observation: At times people view such behavior in preaching and teachings in the wrong light, I believe. Some presenters feel that they must keep an audience beyond “reasonable time” to fully explain every aspect of truth relative to the subject. Listeners, at times, argue that unless you make their point that you have not “presented the truth.” Contrariwise, however, we as presenters may very well leave off “some hard facts of life” so as to leave a “better” impression with the audiences – to their injury as well as ours. Let us beware!
1. Blind Leading is sure to end in destruction for both the leader and the led, (Lk. 6:39). It should be obvious that the untaught can’t adequately point to the way of which he is ignorant, yet the practice is common, I’m afraid! Often people who know little Bible and have little respect for details of its contents are the most bold to proclaim a message as from God!
Question: Are we possibly being lead by a “blind” teacher? Are we possibly giving directions which did not come from God? In short, are we being “blind” leaders in some areas?
2. Relationship of disciples to Master. Are we trying to be different or something other than the Master, Jesus Christ would have us be? Jesus said, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect (has been fully trained NASB) shall be as his master” (6:40). (a) We cannot expect better treatment than Jesus and His apostles. Often we shall be misunderstood and opposed unrighteously. (b) We must not think we are above Him, in being able to set aside principles and doctrines which He proclaimed, practiced and upheld.
3. Criticism must “first” involve a critical analysis of one’s own life, making adequate effort to bring his life into conformity with the will of God before one has the right to correct another. “And why beholdeth thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Lk. 6:41, see verse 42 to complete the instructions).
Wrong conclusions may be drawn here: (1) One does not have to be “perfect” before he can help another; (2) Neither does one have to “know everything” to assist another. One does have to make an honest effort to correct what is wrong in his life, however, before he can effectively teach another. Are we putting “first things first?”
4. One is known by “his ownfruit. ” A good tree or man brings forth good fruit; the evil tree and man brings forth “corrupt” fruit. Truly, all make mistakes, fail at times, and disappoint others, yet ultimately the “good” person manifests the same by character, behavior, or conduct! Let us be convinced of this relative to others and ourselves, too.
5. Calling Jesus “lord,” while failing to be governed by His word, is of no avail. “and why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46) Is Jesus really our Lord – ruling over us through His teachings recorded in the New Testament Scriptures?
We need to be familiar with all of God’s word, and recognize its many-sided principles. Every Word and aspect has a purpose, I’m convinced (Prov. 30:5-6; Matt. 4:4). Such is powerful and beneficial, if we’ll believe it (I Thess. 2:13). Let us become familiar with all the books, chapters, verses, and words of the New Testament. Ponder them -that is give them long, serious thought! We’ll be amazed at times as we reflect as to the light such will shed on the situation in which we find ourselves!
What are some of the valuable principles set forth by Jesus in the sermon in the plain? Think!!
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 16, pp. 492-493
August 18, 1983