One of my favorite Easter stories is from Luke. Two disciples walking along suddenly encounter the risen Christ, and he “explains everything to them.” After they realize their teacher was Jesus, and he disappears from their sight, they talk about their hearts burned within them while he talked (Luke 24:32).
This story illustrates that the disciples had two distinct impressions of Jesus. The first was pre-Easter Jesus, and the second was post-Easter Jesus.
The pre-Easter Jesus was an amazing teacher, to be sure. He changed their lives and helped them see the world in a new way. They would have followed him anywhere. Well, almost anywhere.
The post-Easter Jesus completely transformed the way they understood themselves and God. They stood in a new relationship to history and to each other.
On the other side of Easter, we can’t help but hear Jesus’s words in a new way. Our eyes are opened and we can receive the teaching at a deeper level. It’s with these newly-opened eyes that I invite you to go back and read the Sermon on the Mount again. Once more, with feeling!
Click here to read the Common English Bible version. Feel free to remember my favorite translation edits: “Y’all” and “in the heavens.”
Read it out loud. Reading out loud makes a difference. Slow down and chew each phrase thoroughly.
Read it in one sitting, so that you connect the logic and follow Jesus’s train of thought. You can get through it in about twenty or thirty minutes.
It’s not a TED talk. It’s slightly too long, and Jesus doesn’t stick to one topic. His claims are not grandiose. He does not talk explicitly about the fundamental nature of reality, or what consciousness is, or what happens when we die. He just tells us what it looks like to live as authentically before God as possible.
He says simply, “This is The Way. Now go do it.”
Way of Life and Love, keep me on The Way.
I hope that you have found this devotional series on the Sermon on the Mount helpful. Since we are confined to quarters in this pandemic mess, I have decided to continue my practice of writing daily devotionals. We have just finished Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, so I thought it would be fitting to follow it up with Luke’s version: The Sermon on the Plain.
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Church Comes Home, which is about how to start house churches. It will be released in September.
God Shows No Partiality, which is a biblical basis for a progressive, inclusive theology.
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church, a small group curriculum (I contributed a chapter).
What is in the Bible About Church?, another small group curriculum.
Thank you for journeying with me.