Today is my son John’s 9 month birthday. He is our first child, and I have to say that it has been a huge blessing and humbling experience to raise him. I have learned that raising children is a huge task that requires lots of patience, humility and love.
As my wife and I celebrate the gift of our son, I am reflecting on some of the reading I did in the Bible yesterday. I read through Matthew 1-7. After Jesus’ birth, he gets baptized by John the Baptist, and then enters into temptation for 40 days. When he has been “initiated” (if you will) into ministry, Scripture records some of Jesus’ first teachings at the Sermon on the Mount.
Throughout this sermon, we hear Jesus say over and over again, “You have heard that it was said…” When he is speaking this phrase, he is referring to the teachings of the religious leaders of His day, the pharisees. They, like those of many religions, confused rules with relationship. The pharisees used their rules as a way to control people. They were religious tyrants. That problem still exists today.
Throughout the Sermon, what we are really seeing is Jesus undoing everything that the leaders had been teaching. Relating to God does not come by following rules in the way that was being prescribed. Rather, God gave Torah (The Pentateuch) to His people to show them the way of the path. It was to be a finger pointing the way to his people so that they would know what path they were to be on– how to properly relate to God and each other in a way that will bring life and joy.
So throughout this sermon, Jesus is demonstrating how we can find true life and happiness. What I found encouraging was when he wraps up his teaching on the Mount, he says,
“7:24 Everyone 27 who hears these words of mine and does them is like 28 a wise man 29 who built his house on rock. 7:25 The rain fell, the flood 30 came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock.”
Basically, life is going to be giving us some beatings. We live in a broken world where injustice exists. But if we want to survive the beat-downs, we must be people of the path (the house built on the rock). We need to learn God’s ways that bring life and joy: Love others. Keep the heart pure. Reconcile committed relationships. Keep your word. Forgive. Give to others. Pray and know God’s love and provision for His people. Be mindful of your own shortcomings before being quick to think less of others because of their imperfections. Ask God. Treat others as you want to be treated.
If we want to survive the tough nature of life, we need to be people who are committed to loving others no matter where they are at in life. Be willing to show them the path, but make sure you are on the right path yourself.
I am so thankful for the joy of having this new life, John Samuel, for the past 9 months. My prayer for him is that he will see God’s hand pointing the way. The reality is that his life will not be perfect and he will be let down by others. But I will do what I can to help him see God’s hand pointing the way.