Message of Grace


(Spectrumbot) #1

Along the northern border of Israel, near a village named Tabgha, lies the historic Mount of Beatitudes. From its peak you can see land and water touched by our Savior over 2,000 years ago. I stood near its crest, gazing down on a valley carpeted in shades of green and gold. At the foot of the valley lay the Sea of Galilee. Its ancient waters painted a sapphire blue, glimmering as the sunlight danced along the surface.

It was here, on this sacred ground, that Jesus spoke to the “multitudes” who waited to hear His Sermon on the Mount. It was here, that His message of hope, grace, and new beginnings shocked the world.

Prior to stepping onto the mountain, Jesus journeyed throughout Israel preaching the word of God, healing the sick, and offering a glimmer of hope for many who had long since given up on a better existence. News of His miracles had drifted across the land like an ocean breeze, leaving a faint taste of expectation and optimism in the hearts of many.

Scripture tells us the crowd that gathered that day came from “Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and from beyond the Jordan.” They all came seeking the truth, and perhaps a reason to aspire for something greater in their lives.

I could imagine a tattered army of people scattered along the soft grass of the valley all the way to the Sea of Galilee. Their faces would be etched with the pain and hardships they had been forced to endure during their lives. For these people were not the rich and powerful, or the rulers of the world. These were the downtrodden who came to this place in a desperate search for a better life.

Among them would be the poor and the hungry who barely mustered the strength to move up the hillside to hear His words. There would be those ravaged by sickness and disease, whose only hope lay in the vision and redemption this Man offered. And others that society had shunned or oppressed, would be waiting for a glimpse, if only for a moment, of the life they desperately sought.

Who was this Man? Was He a prophet, or much more? The multitudes had followed Him to the Mount of Beatitudes, desperately seeking that answer.

***

I closed my eyes and I could see that day unfolding before me. I wonder if He began his sermon in the morning, as the sunlight shone on his face bringing out the intensity in his eyes. Perhaps there was a cool breeze flowing off the sea that day, gently rustling His hair, allowing His robe to flow and drift behind Him. I could see Him slowly climb to the top of the mountain, and as He reached the peak, the excited voices of those waiting suddenly went silent like the closing of a door.

Matthew tells us that “Jesus went up the mountain and began to teach them.” The words that He spoke are well known to us now, but the promises He made to the masses that day marked a paradigm shift in the beliefs of the people. The first century world was ruled by the strong and the swift. It was a time when the weak and the poor were enslaved by those who possessed power to govern and rule, sometimes ruthlessly and without mercy.

Yet His words shattered the perceptions and beliefs of many who saw little to aspire to, other than an end to their suffering.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

I can hear His voice carrying across the valley, like the gentle melody of a clear mountain stream. The words drift toward the sea, carried by the hand of God, so that all who had come would hear and learn. As He spoke, the crowd gasped, and looks of awe and wonder came upon their faces.

Jesus raised the bar for all of us on this day. An “eye for an eye” was replaced by a call to love your enemies and “to turn the other cheek.” He spoke of prayer, almsgiving, and forgiveness. And He challenged all who had come to hear Him, “ask, and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find.”

I hear the excited voices from the masses become louder and louder.

“Can these words be true?” One exclaimed.

“He must truly be the Messiah!” Cried another.

I watch as the mood and spirit of the crowd evolves before me. The smell of defeat and desperation that had been in the air only hours before, is dispersed in the wind, and a new sense of peace settles on the valley. There’s a gleam and intensity in their eyes as they begin to see a different future. And I can hear a faint whisper as the chains of bondage begin to crumble and fall to the earth.

As He finishes His teaching, He and his Apostles slowly descend from the mountain and the crowd steps aside creating an alleyway for Him. In the distance, I see that the early morning mist that had hovered over the horizon has lifted. I see two mountain peaks, clothed in shadows of jade, rising upward, cradling the Sea between them like a mother holding an infant. And I watch as our Lord slowly makes his way toward the water.

***

I begin my walk back down the mountain, feeling the pleasant warmth from the sunlight that filters through the trees. Even as the vision began to fade, I could still feel the weight and significance of what He said that day. A message that transcends time.

Though our journeys may often be rocky and steep, something greater and more magnificent than we can imagine, awaits us at the end.

Bob Blundell is a freelance writer living in the Houston area. He has had previous work published in magazines such as Liguorian, Testimony, The Living Pulpit, Reachout Columbia, and Halo.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9610

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

Christ closes His sermon with the admonition to build upon the Rock. He was, is and will be that Rock. There is no denominational substitute .


(Steve Mga) #3

Wonderful insight to Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6 as the people heard the words
of Jesus.
Jesus, speaking as one who has Authority to interpret the Torah. And those
who heard Jesus expound on the Torah during those 3 years exclaimed –
Never did a man explain the Torah in this way, “spoke like this.” A very
refreshing new view from what they normally heard their whole life.
Jesus also used the words “Your Father in heaven” to let it sink into their
consciousness that they were part of the “Family of God”, not just “subjects”
working for another Authority figure who would “punish” and “reward”.


(Steve Mga) #4

Leviticus 19:2 is a message directly from God.
“You shall by holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
Matthew 5:48 has Jesus saying, “Be perfect as your
Father in heaven is perfect.”
Luke in 6:36 has Jesus saying, “Be merciful, just as your
Father is merciful.”
In Leviticus 19 and 20 we have listed many of the ways by
which the Israelites were to exhibit “Holiness” as God is Holy.
“Being merciful” by Jesus, is the new call to the Kingdom by
Jesus sitting on the mount, and people on the plain.
Merciful is God’s way of Justice.
Merciful is the many ways God wants those in the New Kingdom
to conduct their lives toward themselves, toward their Neighbors.
Being Merciful is being Holy.

The Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus was a call
to higher living standards than that outlined in the Torah. A call to be
a different type of Citizen of the Earth.
No wonder it was spoken of Jesus – “Teaches as one who has Authority”.


#5

Heard from who?
Their religious teachers

So God & Moses cheated the Jews on low standards?

Was “an eye for eye” totally invalidated by Jesus?
What was the original purpose of “eye for an eye”

Beware. There are many religious teachers who, even today, explain the scriptures in their own way.
2 Cor 2:17


#6

Implied by so many “Christian” pastors/teachers is the concept that the JEWS were saved by Torah/LAW and not grace.

Much of this notion is because many don’t really understand the meaning of grace. Most hear>>>“unmerited favor”

The meaning of the word “gospel” has been corrupted. to the point that it is focused on just what Jesus did 2000 years ago and does not include the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Saved has been warped to mean, say a prayer confessing sin & accepting Jesus atonement.

Grace is just shallow, cut some slack for continuing to be a rebel and a ROM 8:7 carnal churchian criminal

What is very subtle is the subconscious animosity toward Jews/neo-anti-Semitism.


(Steve Mga) #7

The Torah laws were a Very Radical way of Living as compared to the nations
around them, and the usual conduct of people outside the Israelite body of
believers of that day.
The lives of the prophets who followed Moses was taken up mostly with
calling people back to Imitate God to themselves and toward their neighbors.


(Cfowler) #8

How do you describe/define “saved”?


(Patrick Travis) #9

Bob,
Thanks. In 2000 my wife and I drove from Jerusalem up to the Sea of Galilee and Capernum. At least two sites are speculated within a few miles of Capernum as the “place of the beatitudes.” Christ’s mission of preaching in “the North” is related to Amos 9:11,12 and Acts 15:16-18 that shows the dual application fulfilled. Samaria, home of woman at the well, was the location of some lost tribes after the Assyrian captivity. Christ was sent there to "preach the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God "in Himself as David’s descendent to the throne.
Likewise the gentiles would be drawn to this “expanded tent” of the Son of David.
It indeed was a message of Grace and restoration in which we gentiles have become/access participation in the kingdom of God. Relief from captivity and restoration was offered to all that day on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. Messiah had come! Hallelujah!


#10

To my knowledge, “an eye for an eye” is a Hebrew idiom that means, as we would say, let the crime fit the punishment. Not something to be taken negatively but something that upholds justice.


(Steve Mga) #11

“An eye for an eye” was a very Revolutionary Idea set forth by God back
in those days.
God is saying there is a LIMIT to punishment. God did NOT say Punishment
HAD to be given. Only that it HAD to be Limited.
It was NOT a Command “an eye for an eye” or “bone for a bone” had to be
inflicted.


(Steve Mga) #12

The Lectionary for Sunday, May 19 is from Acts 11:1-18. Peter had
been to a Gentile [uncircumcised persons] and ate with them. The
men of Jerusalem heard about this and called Peter on the “Red
Carpet” to account for his actions of breaking “Church Laws”.
He relates how the Holy Spirit came upon those Gentiles the same
way the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the upper room at
Pentecost.
Then they all praised God for Making All Things New.


(Steve Mga) #13

This message of Grace, as presented to Peter, by the “sheet vision”
be a Message of Grace to the SDA church that no matter who humans
are - of whatever race, economic status, gender, sexuality – that God
is not discriminatory and we are not to call anyone “Common or Unclean”.


(Patrick Travis) #14

Steve was there a specific question in the comment to me? There is no one who is not eligible to enter the kingdom of God when called of Him. LGBTQ+, Fornicators, adulterers, tax collectors and any other sin in addition to any other nationality, race etc.
Where the difficulty comes Steve is when somethIng/anything is described as sinful behavior, if one is expected to make changes as led and empowered of the HS.
That’s the rub for all of us.
Regards,
Pat