Jesus was a great preacher and there’s nothing like a good sermon to help us gird up our loins as we make our way in the world. Jesus’ first sermon in Luke’s gospel in called The Sermon on the Plain. The homily comes pretty soon after Jesus had recruited the members of the earliest “church” – those guys we call “the twelve.” It’s an abbreviated version of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount and both are great sermons because the charge within them is so clear – they are marching orders for the people of, or on, “The Way.”
Luke prefaces Jesus’ inaugural sermon with the call of Simon (the fisherman), and then Levi (the tax collector). The story quickly turns into a contrast in piety when Levi throws a banquet and the religious elite start complaining that the new and holy kid on the block (that would be Jesus) is hanging out (eating and drinking) with sinners! The religious elite discount those who have begun to follow Jesus as riff-Raff and compare these “eaters and drinkers” with the “fasters and prayers” that are following the way of the Pharisees and Jesus’ cousin John. In short order Jesus and his crew are plucking heads of grain on a holy day… working on the Sabbath. Jesus and his band of misfits are breaking the rules and later on the same day Jesus takes the cake when he heals a man’s withered hand. At this point the pious elite are “filled with fury and start discussing with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
Luke implies that Jesus takes the criticisms seriously. When the arguments about piety are over Jesus goes up on a mountain and spends the night in prayer to God. Apparently Jesus got a “Like” from God regarding his recent posts because when day comes he walks down the mountain and finishes calling the rest of his band of misfits that he called his disciples and also named Apostles. After that a whole bunch of people gather (a great multitude, in fact) on the plain to hear what Jesus has to say and to be healed (saved) by him. Then Jesus “looks up” at his disciples and begins to preach to them…
If you want to hear the sermon read Luke 6.17 – 49. For the whole story read chapters 5 & 6. It won’t take long. In the sermon you’ll hear Jesus recite the beatitudes and teach about loving one’s enemies and turning the other cheek. You’ll also read that the people of The Way should treat others how they themselves would like to be treated and to refrain from judgement and that before we attend to the splinter in our neighbor’s eye we should work on removing the log from our own.
One of the highlights of the sermon for me is Jesus’ teaching regarding generosity. He preaches that when we forgive we will be forgiven, and when we give we will be given. And what will we be given – what will be placed in our laps – is “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over; for the measure we give will be the measure we get back.” Jesus ends the sermon by saying that people who live their lives obeying these new rules about what piety really looks like are building their lives on a foundation that is unshakeable. He also reminds us that although storms will indeed come, with a firm foundation, the house will stand. Consider your own foundation. How firm is it?
As many of us head out to various destinations and vacations this summer we are likely to find ourselves interacting with strangers more so than usual (and attending church less regularly?). During these summer months of what we in the church call ordinary time, a time when our eating and drinking is likely to out-measure the time we spend praying or fasting we can remain pious if we remember to carry with us our Christ-centered obligation to be generous. When we carry the generosity that being a member of Jesus’ church requires we “do church” no matter where we are; and we are less likely to forget to show hospitality to the stranger. And one never knows, after all, when the stranger we are serving is in fact an angel (Hebrews 13.2).
If you don’t have a bible handy here’s a lovely picture of a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over… Happy Monday and Holy Summer! Jim+
Thanks, Jim. “Pass It Forward” is a phrase often used when attempting to do something meaningful for someone. The text and video certainly emphasizes the importance of being kind.
And love the reminder to watch for and reach out to those strangers, those angels, with the lessons they teach……..and if I may add, sometimes I believe they’re even the animals we help along the way. Fantastic video!!!