Sermon on the Mount timeless, timely

By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist

One of the most beautiful portions of Scripture in the Bible is the sermon that Jesus delivered sitting on the side of a mountain near Capernaum. Thus it is called the Sermon on the Mount. That sermon contains three well known passages: The Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and The Golden Rule. Interspaced through all of these are the beautiful teachings of Jesus through story and parable. He had a way of helping people to understand by relating his teachings to real life situations.

The first verse in Matthew says that Jesus went up on the mountain after He saw the multitudes that had come out to hear him. Then the scriptures say that He sat down before He began to preach. I did some research and found that sitting indicated authority, so for that reason many times rabbis would sit while teaching.

The Beatitudes is the first portion of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins each statement with the word “blessed” which was meant to give confront to suffering believers. The word “beatitude” is from the Latin word “beatus,” which means blessed or happy. My preacher daddy used to say “blessed” meant “Happy many times over!” So the beatitudes would read:

Blessed (happy many times over) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed (happy many times over) are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed (happy many times over) are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed (happy many times over) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed (happy many times over) are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed (happy many times over) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed (happy many times over) are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed (happy many times over) are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed (happy many times over) are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Rejoice (happy many times over) and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

On that day, there was no huge church with a microphone system. There were no refreshments, no multimedia, no instruments, brass and strings. There was no air conditioning and no cushiony seats were provided. Bugs, maybe a snake or two, was in the crowd and one had to avoid rocks so not to trip. No water fountains were around for thirsty children and no church nursery so young mothers could concentrate on what the preacher was saying.

Even more, the sermon seemed contradictory. We will be happy many times over if we are poor in spirit? If we mourn? If we are merciful and persecuted? If are insulted and falsehoods and evil are aimed at us? That is the miraculous and wonderful strength of the Gospel; what makes sense to the carnal mind is not the standard for the spiritual mind. Thus the Gospel changes lives.

We are not sure how long Jesus sermon was on that day. Jesus spoke about Christians being the light of the world and judging others. He talked about personal relationships, prayer, fasting, treasures in heaven and how not to be anxious.

The Sermon on the Mount is timeless and also timely…and we will be “happy many times over” if we heed Jesus’ teachings.

The Sermon on the Mount may be found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.