On the Mountain with Jesus

In the fifth chapter of Matthew, we find the beginning of Jesus’ delivery of the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon was literally one to change the world, yet there is some significance, not only in its content, but in its timing and location.

The last few weeks of Jesus’ life had been a whirlwind: His baptism and subsequent tempation in the wilderness, the calling of His disciples and the beginning of the early stages of His ministry. In fact, the end of chapter four tells us that He was travelling through the region, teaching, preaching, healing, casting out devils and tending to the needs of the multitudes in general. These would have certainly been exciting times for his disciples, having just stepped away from their fishing nets into this bustling activity.

Verse one of chapter five tells us that “…seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.” He then proceeded to teach them the truths of the Kingdom, but did you get the fact that He walked away from the multitude? He saw a need to come apart from the needs of others to teach His disciples.

I can only imagine the consternation of the disciples: “Jesus, there are still sick people to be healed.” “Jesus, what about that demon-possessed fellow over there?” “Jesus, those people need to be taught!”

Jesus’ response was to climb a mountain and sit down to wait for His disciples to catch up.

What does this teach us?

As a pastor who has been in full-time ministry for a number of years, I find that one of the easiest traps I can fall in is that of busyness. If you are one who is serving God in any capacity, you probably have a sensitivity to the needs of others. After all, isn’t that what ministry is about? We throw ourselves into the whirlwind of preaching, teaching, ministering, giving, serving and just basically doing.

I am not saying that ministry is wrong, that is what God calls us to do. There is, though, a protocol that Jesus repeatedly establishes throughout the Gospels and that is, focusing on Him before we look at others. It’s the whole Mary/Martha thing. Jesus wanted us to know that before we should be concerned with doing we should focus on being.

Somehow we get the idea that doing things for God makes us spiritual. We think that unless we are involved in some form of ministry every waking moment, then we aren’t being faithful to God. We operate under the premise that if “We don’t do it, it won’t get done.” Even worse, we foist this idea on new believers forcing them into the meatgrinder even before they have been dried off from their baptism. I had always realized that I couldn’t earn my salvation, but it changed my life when I found out that I couldn’t earn my spirituality.

It will be better, I think, if I treat this subject in multiple posts rather than one great big one. Let me conclude this one by saying that the single most important thing in the life of a Christian is time spent worshipping and learning from the Savior. Let us be willing to climb the mountain so that we can sit at His feet and learn what we ought to be.

Have a blessed day.


13 responses to “On the Mountain with Jesus

  1. how many times i need to focus on being…i feel like i’m a “martha” so many times. so worried about the arrangements, the food, the house, the details of how, when, where i sometimes seem to lose my gaze on Him. i try to do all of this for Him when, when i just need to be with Him. thanks for this gentle reminder!

  2. Great thoughts, Gordon.

    Why we do what we do?
    (Hey. did anyone else just here the VeggieTales theme?)

    This is one of those issues that can really only be judged by the individual himself. (I am planning on ammending that in a minute.)

    I know there are times when I am doing what I do simply because I am madly in love with our Father. And I know there are times when I do what I do simply because it’s what I am “supposed” to be doing. I am not talking about the times when we need to deny ourselves and do what’s right. I am talking about the times when we are either in auto-pilot or “show”-mode.

    The problem is that those around us usually can’t see inside of us to know the motivation; if it’s godly or not.

    (Now for the 1st Ammendment…no not THAT one!)
    I do know one thing is for sure. There are surely times when outsiders can tell why we do what we do. If someone is doing nothing for God, then a correct judgement may be made that his love for Jesus and the cross is not motivating him.
    (WHA…??? Did he just use the word judgement in regard to others? How DARE he? Side note: I do believe there are times when we need to spiritually and logically conclude things about others. If we did not, how would we ever call each other higher? I could give all my reasons for this, but this is not my blog and don’t want to use up Gordon’s web real-estate on an off topic tangent.)
    Anyway, it can be addressed with brotherly love and kindness, with a sincere desire to help the brother see the fruits of doing labors of love for the Lord.

    I do love it when our full time minister takes the time to teach and train us in how to love, help, and instruct others. (That wasn’t meant to sound like he hardly ever does this. He does it quite often.)

    I look forward to reading more!

  3. Such a necessary topic…oh that our actions would flow out of our time spent with Him….Mary chose the more needful thing…His fellowship is more necessary than breath but we often lose sight of that truth when we find that we are quite capable of going forward under our own power for quite a long time…til we are burnt out and disillusioned with God and His Church… all along it has been that we were opereating on our on strenght…Let us choose the “more needful” thing

  4. Thanks Megan, Danny and JG for these great thoughts. When we get a little farther into this, I will be discussing what JG alluded to concerning our actions overflowing from time spent with Jesus.

  5. Great post preacher and although I can’t claim to being a Martha I must admit I have those tendencies (hehe).

    Blessings brother. πŸ˜‰

  6. Great post. It is so much easier to be a Martha than a Mary. I used to get upset with those who gave Martha such a bad rap. Being still in His presence is sometimes so hard to do. Thanks.

  7. Very cool post Gordon,

    I look forward to reading the reat of the story! πŸ™‚

    oh I’m back!

    take care
    God bless

  8. this is so much needed in our “religious” world today. thanks gordon for being willing to always just step out there and share from your heart.

    how much easier would my journey be if i would only realize that God is trying to work thru my life? and quit trying to impress God by attempting to live mrs. smith’s life!

    thanks, and may you be blessed!

  9. I have been thinking about this post today. My mind wandered a bit and I started thinking that not everything that we read, watch, listen too, needs to be Holy Holy Holy 24/7 either.

    I notice you like Lost. I haven’t watched it but I bet it doesn’t spend an hour lifting up Jesus.

    I like music. I just discovered The Flower Kings. I got two of their double albums and they are epic in size and scope. I love them! They don’t however lift up Jesus.

    I don’t know if or how this all fits in with your post but it’s where I my thoughts wandered too as I thought about what you wrote.

  10. Michael, I’m not sure how your comment relates to my post. I was talking about how we need to spend time at the feet of Jesus, learning from Him and worshipping Him so that we can find power to serve Him.

  11. Performance Orientation is a major problem today in church circles. It is something that will take you to very dark places. Young people raised with PO battle with knowing that God loves them (and like them) just the way they are.

  12. That was a good post, Bob. Thanks for sharing.


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