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.