After sixteen months of preaching, we have reached the end of our study of the Sermon on the Mount. I have preached many series of messages at Berean in the past eight years. We have been through many books of the Bible, but no series I have preached has affected me in such a deep personal way as this study. The requirements for life in Christ’s kingdom are so demanding and so overwhelming that we must be struck with the terrible truth of our helplessness to be righteous with God. The profundity of Christ’s words, the sternness of His rebukes, the irrefutable logic of His arguments, the insight of His wisdom, the authority with which He spoke—all of this left the people stunned, amazed, astonished at His teachings.
I must say that all of these months exploring the depths of this sermon have left me no less amazed than those who first heard Him. If the sermon was intended to shock my human intellect into recognition of my abject sinfulness, it surely accomplished its intent. If it was intended to bring me to my knees to cry out for God’s mercy because of my unworthiness, I am there, too broken to look up. If it was intended to make me search the recesses of my heart to evaluate my motives, my declarative claim to be one of God’s children, to search for proof of my salvation—again the sermon has accomplished its purpose.
After this intense introspection, I am happily content that my faith has been well placed. I have found the Rock on which my faith is built. The law of God has brought me to this recognition. Paul said the law is our schoolmaster to bring us Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24). Christ’s exposition of the law leaves no other hope but Him. He is “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). I am amazed at His teachings and I am ever more thankful that He opened my eyes to see me as I am and Him as He is. I am unrighteous with nothing to offer. He is holy, perfect, and just; He is all righteousness with everything to offer, and so He has become my righteousness.
Have you seen the same after these many months? The tragic truth of the crowd’s response is that they were amazed for awhile. While the sermon was hot off the press, they marveled and continued to follow Him from place to place. They continually sought after His miracles; but those cutting, biting words kept coming back. They tried to suppress them, but each time He taught He reinforced them. Finally, the strain was too much to bear. They were not converted by His teachings; they only became more hardened in their unbelief.
I sincerely hope the same has not happened to you. I hope that you are not only a “hearer” of His words but also a “doer” (Matt. 7:21). I pray these truths have transformed you so that you are not only astonished at his doctrine, but that you are also confirmed in His doctrine. Time will tell for you as it did for them.
Pastor V. Mark Smith