How to Respond to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount

Feb 18

How to Respond to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 7:28-29

Our Problem: We don’t respond to the words of Jesus as we ought

Proposition: Since Jesus is King, we must do his will

  1. Doing God’s will means being known by Him
  2. Doing God’s will means experiencing His power in your life
  3. Doing God’s will means being made whole by His presence

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

My sermon title this morning is “How to Respond to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount,” and my challenge for you from that is: How will you respond to Jesus?  I have learned that my teaching is insufficient to actually change anyone.  It takes the power of God.  Have you experienced the power of God in your life?  This morning I want to ask you this question: how will you respond to Jesus?  Are you ready to experience the power of God in your life?

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

This verse tells us how the crowds responded to Jesus, and it uses this powerful Greek word that we translate as ‘astonished.’  It says, “the crowds were astonished at his teaching.”  They were dumbfounded.  They were amazed.  That word occurs only 13 times in the NT, and almost every time it’s used it is in relationship to God or something God has done, which is to say, it is a powerful word used primarily to attribute the type of response people have to divine acts.

While the word ‘astonished’ communicates a variety of powerful emotional responses to Jesus’ teaching, it does not communicate any commitment of faith, or an experience of the power of God.

You can memorize everything Jesus ever said; you can get your master’s degree in theology, you can think that he was a great teacher, and that his sermon on the mount is the height of philosophical and ethical teaching from any religious leader in the history of the world, you can be amazed, you can be dumbfounded, but Jesus is going to make it very clear: just being astonished isn’t enough.  Just being astonished at the teaching of Jesus isn’t enough

So back to the challenge we are facing: how will you respond to Jesus?  Perhaps you yourself have been amazed at the teaching of Jesus.  Astonished at his radical commands and the authority he gives them with.  But if just being astonished isn’t enough, how should we respond?  At the end of his Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us:  Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:24 says, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

    • The way that Jesus says we must respond to him is that we do his will.
      • Just being astonished isn’t enough
      • We must do God’s will

What does it mean to do God’s will?  When we hear the phrase: “Do God’s will” we immediately jump to this idea of a to-do list of moral tasks, but that could actually not be further from the truth of what Jesus means.  Doing the will of Jesus is different than we think.  In fact, doing God’s will is more about what God does in us than it is about us doing things for God.

So, our response to Jesus’ teaching must be that we do God’s will, and I want to spend the rest of our time discovering from Jesus exactly what he meant by that.

  1. Doing God’s will means being known by Him (7:21-23)

Explanation:

  • The first thing that we learn from Jesus about doing God’s will is that doing God’s will means being known by Him.
    • Look at 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
      • Now at this point we would expect Jesus to give us a list of actions that are God’s will for us to do.  And amazingly, he does give us a list of actions, but instead of telling us to do them, he says you can do those things and it still doesn’t matter if He doesn’t know you.  Look at the next verse:
    • On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.’”
      • Many people will say, “Lord didn’t we do this; didn’t we do that; didn’t we do your will?” And they will have completely misunderstood what God’s will is:
      • Doing God’s will means being known by him.
        • The key is not: service for Jesus
        • The key is: relationship with Jesus
    • In these three verses Jesus is saying that doing God’s will doesn’t mean checking off a list of spiritual duties, but doing God’s will means being known by him.
    • It means following Jesus, not simply following propositional directives (Matt. 7:21-23)
    • Jesus is saying here that doing God’s will doesn’t mean doing a bunch of things in the name of Jesus(prophesying in his name, casting out demons in his name, doing mighty works in his name), but doing God’s will means being known by him.

Illustration:

  • If I march up Pennsylvania Avenue to the gates of the White House, I can tell them that I say the pledge of allegiance every day, know every word to the national anthem, gladly pay my taxes, set off fireworks on the 4th of July, and follow the POTUS on Twitter, but if I say “let me in, I know the President.”  The issue won’t be whether or not I know who he is.  The issue will be whether or not he knows me.
    • You can go your whole life checking off your list of spiritual duties and still never have done God’s will.
    • Doing God’s will means being known by him
      • The key is not: service for Jesus
      • The key is: relationship with Jesus

Application:

  • I’m afraid that many people today are listening to sermons telling them to do this and to do that, and after they hear those do-do sermons they go out and do all kinds of things in the name of Jesus, and on the day of judgment Jesus says they will stand before him and they will say Lord didn’t we do this, and didn’t we do that, and the saddest thing of all is that even though they did so much none of it mattered.
  • Because the gospel isn’t about what we do; because the good news has never been about what we do, but about what Jesus has done.   
    • Doing God’s will means being known by him
      • The key is not: service for Jesus
      • The key is: relationship with Jesus
  • Ask yourself this morning: are you known by Jesus? Do you have a relationship with him?  Or have you been content to simply be astonished at his teaching?
    • Doing God’s will means being known by him
  1. Doing God’s will means experiencing his power in your life (8:1-17)

Explanation:

  • The second thing we learn from Jesus about doing God’s will is not from what Jesus said, but from what he did.  And that is: doing God’s will means experiencing his power in your life.
  • As soon as Jesus finished his sermon on the mount, 8:1-3 says, “When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.  And behold a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
  • Immediately after that in 8:5: “When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, ‘Lord my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.’” Verse 13: “And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.’ And the servant was healed at that very moment.’”
  • And then again immediately after that in 8:14-16, “And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.”
    • My question is: how did those people go from listening to Jesus’ teaching, to the belief that he could heal them?
    • During Jesus’ teaching he never said that he could make sick people better.  He never said that he had power over disease.  He never said that he could liberate people from demonic oppression.  He said love your neighbor, store up treasure in heaven, don’t be anxious, and pray to your heavenly Father.
    • But somehow, a leper, a centurion, a mother-in-law, and many admittedly troubled people got from point A to point B.  Somehow, just by listening to the voice of Jesus, they believed that this man could change their lives, and they experienced his power.
    • So here, Jesus shows us that doing God’s will means experiencing his power in your life.
    • For those who hear the Sermon on the Mount…
      • The question is not: what do I make of this teaching?
      • The question is: what do I make of the one teaching it?
      • Doing God’s will means experiencing his power in your life.

Illustration:

  • Story of Danny, wanting to study religion but not be affected by it
  • Have you experienced the power of God in your life, or have you been content to simply be astonished at his teaching?
    • Doing God’s will means experiencing his power in your life.
      • The question is not: what do I make of this teaching?
      • The question is: what do I make of the one teaching it?

Application:

  • Questions to discern if we have experienced the power of God in our lives:
    • Has your pattern of life changed?
    • Have the things you’ve most valued changed? 
    • Have your priorities changed?
    • Have you experienced the power of God to reconcile broken relationships?
    • Have you experienced the power of God to break addiction?
    • Have you experienced God’s power enabling you to love your enemy?
    • Have you experienced answered prayer?
    • Have you experienced freedom from enslavement to greed and chasing money?
    • Have you experienced the power of God to break the trend of anxiety?
      • Doing God’s will means experiencing his power in your life.
  1. Doing God’s will means being made whole by his presence (7:24-27)

Explanation:

  • Doing God’s will means being known by Him, experiencing his power, and the third thing we learn from Jesus is that doing God’s will means being made whole by his presence.
  • Look at the very last thing Jesus says at the end of his sermon in 7:24-27, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
    • The key to what Jesus is saying here (and what he’s been saying the whole time), what is so critical for us to understand, is that the difference between the foolish man and the wise man was not what they did.  They both did exactly the same thing.  They built a house.  The difference, Jesus says, is the presence of the Rock. 
    • “My hope is built on nothing less…”
    • The building gets no credit.  What we do, gets no credit.  All the credit goes to the rock.  That is what sustains you.  That is what holds you when the wind howls and the floods rage against you.  On CHRIST the solid rock I stand.
    • It’s the rock that matters, not the building of the house.
    • Doing God’s will means being made whole by his presence.
      • So the issue is not: what you should do
      • The issue is: what Jesus has done
    • Everyone is building their house somewhere.   The defining factor is the presence of the rock.  Only the presence of God can make you whole.

Application:

  • Any scribe can stand up and give you a list of directions to follow, but Jesus didn’t teach like one of the scribes, he taught as one who had authority.
  • His will is that we know him. That we have a relationship with him.  That we experience him.
    • Doing God’s will means being made whole by his presence.
      • So the issue is not: what you should do
      • The issue is: what Jesus has done
  • Now this seems counterintuitive, but it is incredibly important: each point that we’ve looked at of what it means to do God’s will is passive.  That is, they are not things that you do, but things that are done to you.
    • Doing God’s will means being known by him
    • Doing God’s will means experiencing his power
    • Doing God’s will means being made whole by his presence
      • These are not things that you do, but things that are done to you.
    • And Doing God’s will means being made whole by his presence.
      • So the issue is not: what you should do
      • The issue is: what Jesus has done
  • So the pressing question then is:
    • How can we be known by Jesus?
    • How can we experience God’s power in our lives?
    • How can we be made whole by God’s presence?
  • Do what Jesus said just a few verses earlier: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” -Matthew 7:7-8

Doing God’s will is not about what you can do for Him, but what He can do in you.

Conclusion:

Luke 10:38-42 records an encounter Jesus had with two sisters, Mary and Martha.  It says, “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village.  And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving.  And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’  But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”

  • The issue has never been things that we need to do.  God doesn’t need us to do anything.  He doesn’t need us.  When God put Adam and Eve in the garden it wasn’t about them doing a bunch of things for God.  It was about them being known by God, experiencing God, and being in the presence of God. 
  • When Jesus came to the earth he didn’t come to get us to straighten up because God has a bunch of stuff for us to do, he came to restore what was broken, to re-establish relationship with us, to show his power in our lives, and to surround us with his presence. 
  • The good news of the gospel is about what Jesus has done for us, not what we are supposed to do for Jesus. There is nothing he needs from you.  He doesn’t need your service, he doesn’t need your time, he doesn’t need your busyness.  Choose the good portion that will not be taken away from you: simply sit at the feet of Jesus. 
    • Be like Mary who knew the key was not service for Jesus, but relationship with Jesus
    • Be the Leper who came to Jesus and knew the question was not ‘what do I make of this teaching?’ but, ‘What do I make of the one teaching it?’
    • Be the wise man who built his house on the rock who knew that the issue was not what he should do, but what Jesus has done.’

How to Come to Jesus

  • There is no record in the NT of Jesus ever turning away anyone who came to him for healing.  He healed them all.
  • But when you come to Jesus you must come to him broken.  If you come to Jesus as though you have something to offer him, you will be turned away.  You must bring him your sin, bring him your guilt, bring him your sickness and your sorrow.
  • After Jesus had healed many sick, and made whole many who were broken, a scribe, or an expert Bible scholar came to him and said, “Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.” And another offered to do the same.  And Jesus told them that they didn’t understand the cost of what it takes to follow him.
  • Jesus only takes the broken.  Anyone who comes with ‘something to offer’ is turned away.
  • Because anyone who comes to Jesus with something to offer hasn’t understood the free offer of the gospel.  It’s not about what you can do, it’s about what Jesus has done.
    • You can’t come to Jesus while hanging on to your pride
    • You can’t come to Jesus while hanging on to your future plans
    • You can’t come to Jesus while hanging on to your sin
    • But if you come to him with all of those things exposed before him, you can honestly say, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

Why is this so important?

  • The way we respond to Jesus determines everything else in our lives for eternity
    • You can respond to Jesus by simply being astonished.  That isn’t enough
    • You can respond to Jesus by becoming extremely religious and keeping a tally of your moral duties.  That isn’t enough.
    • Or you can respond to Jesus by doing his will:
      • being known by Him, experiencing his power in your life, and being made whole by his presence
  • Here is why this is so important:
    • Revelation 12:10-11 says, “10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers[a] has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
    • In the end, our victory over sin and death is by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
      • Our victory is not by the blood of the Lamb and a list of theological propositions
      • Our victory is not by the blood of the Lamb and a record of the things we did
      • Our victory is not by the blood of the Lamb and a fleeting decision we made years and years ago
        • No, our victory is by the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross and our experience of his power in our lives that has made us whole and put us in relationship with him.
  • Oh that we would be a church who is not satisfied with simply being astonished at the teachings of Jesus.
    • How will you respond to him today?