Yes, there is more to the Sermon on the Mount than just the Beatitudes!
Jesus’ lengthy discourse, found in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6:17-49, addresses several aspects and concerns of Christian life and ethics, from prayer to the problem of false prophets, which are applicable even for us, some 2000 years later. The Sermon is justly famous both for its transcending message and its impossibly high standards—all pointing Christ’s followers to the Kingdom.
During J-term 2016, several students embarked upon a life-changing journey to Israel-Palestine, which left them not only with exciting, first-hand experiences of the biblical landscape, but with unique encounters of Jesus’ words manifested in their own spiritual experiences and in the lives of others.
The Sermon on the Mount is the theme for this issue because we wanted to show readers that Jesus’ words truly do impact Christians in the present day: in America and even all the way to Israel-Palestine; and that we are not alone in our desire to be faithful to the words of our Lord as spoken in His sermon.
Jesus’ words aren’t just obscure scribbles on ancient documents made by dead men long ago. They aren’t fading echoes of truths that have stayed in the past along with the rest of history. His words have become alive in the loving actions of believers around the world, fueling a fire in their spirits so fierce that the Kingdom of God has been breaking down the strongholds of darkness in our world, even to this very moment. Jesus’ radical Sermon on the Mount changes lives today, even as it did during the first-century.
This reality shines clearly through this edition of the Kerux. The following are just a few of the great reflections you will find in this edition. Aileen Schouten resonates with the words of Jesus regarding salt and light in her own life. Josiah Youngquist and Brad Diekema team up in their efforts to show us how a new reading of the Beatitudes helps them to embrace the already, but not yet of God’s kingdom, and contemplates what it looks like to live pure in heart as we live in this tension.
Grant Hofman describes his own surreal, déjà vu experience while preaching a sermon, yes, on a mount—perhaps the same mount that Jesus Himself preached the famous Sermon on the Mount on!
Brendan Omicioli and Cara DeHaan show us how they have seen Jesus’ words manifested in the very lives and actions of both their travel group and Israeli-Palestinians; likewise, Paula Seales describes the perseverance and faithfulness of those living in daily political and military conflict, abiding by and hoping in the words of Christ, especially when it comes to loving one’s enemies.
We hope that through these pieces, not only will we be encouraged to re-read the Sermon on the Mount (really!), we will remember that it is only by God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are empowered to live lives worthy of the calling to which we’ve been called. Jesus’ words are so important that He likens the person who doesn’t follow them to a foolish man who built his house on the sand: “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Here’s to building our lives (and helping others to build their lives) on the Rock.