Would Jesus have rehearsed the sermon on the mount?
Dallas Jenkins, creator of “The Chosen” web series, says his depiction of Jesus practicing the sermon on the mount stirred up a lot of controversy. The question is an interesting way of approaching the paradox of the incarnation; fully human, definitely would have practiced the sermon; fully divine, comes perfect off the cuff. Biblical scholars are divided on whether the sermon on the mount was presented as a single continuous sermon or was a series of Jesus’ teachings stitched together by Matthew.
However it came to be there are distinctive themes and patterns woven into its construction. In the sermon on the mount Jesus employees three repeated phrases:
“You have heard it said…”
“Everyone who asks/hears…”
Each of these introduce a teaching on identity. Throughout the sermon on the mount Jesus uses these phrases to tell us who he is and how he acts. These phrases also tell us who God sees us as and instructs us on how to live in light of our identity. The Biblical scholar and theologian Stanley Hauerwas puts it this way “The basis for the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount is not what works, but rather who God is.”
This Sunday we begin our new sermon series entitled, “A Kingdom Upside Down.” This sermon series will be rooted in the sermon on the mount and its calling upon our lives. The values and life Jesus outlines in the sermon may often seem at odds with the prevailing culture. Or again, as Stanley Hauerwas phrases it, “Whenever a people are bound together in loyalty to a story that includes something as strange as the Sermon on the Mount, we are put at odds with the world.”
Let us prepare for this journey by once again refreshing our memory of Christ’s famous sermon found in Matthew 5-7.