This is a Lenten devotional I’m sharing with Saint Junia newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to get these devotionals by email, you can sign up here.
| LENT DAY 0 |
Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Mount
Lent day 0 (Fat Tuesday)
Hi! Thanks for signing up for my Lenten devotionals. Over the next forty days I’ll be sharing reflections on the Sermon on the Mount, which I call the Jesus Manifesto. It is found in Matthew 5-7.
I’ve never seen a Jesus movie that does the Sermon on the Mount well. They picture him standing on a mountain or wandering slowly through a crowd, saying things in a dreamy voice. That’s not how it Matthew pictures it. The first verse says Jesus sat down, and his disciples came to him. These were his lieutenants, his hard-core followers. He was likely not speaking down to a crowd of thousands, but up to a crowd of 50-100, like in an amphitheater.
Matthew is the only gospel that refers to “the church.” While some people claim that Jesus never came to start the church, Matthew disagrees: Jesus came specifically to create the church—a new alternative community. The Sermon on the Mount is its charter. Jesus says, “This is what I’m here for, and this is how I intend you to behave.” It is direct, challenging, and revolutionary.
If you are able, I encourage you to read it through once before we start. You can read it slowly in about twenty minutes. It will sound familiar. You will find that it is full of some of Jesus’ most famous sayings, like “turn the other cheek,” and “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring troubles of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
If you are the journaling sort, I encourage you to jot down some thoughts as we go. I will structure my reflections as a series of 5-10 observations. I may have some questions for you to ponder.
I may miss some days. There is a lot going on in our world and in my life. But I want to model what a spiritual discipline looks like. It doesn’t mean you won’t miss days or mess up, but as my Dad has always said, “If you keep starting over every day, eventually you look consistent.”
I hope you enjoy this Lenten devotional journey through one of my favorite parts of scripture.