Sermons on peace
Once the disciples’ minds were opened and they finally understood who Jesus was, he called them into action and through them, he called all generations that followed, down to our day, down to this church, down to this very moment in time. As you know, our risen Lord is here, right now, to tell us who he is, show us his unconditional love, give us his peace, allay our fears, open our minds, and send us into the world in his name.
At the deepest level, however, the Sermon is not primarily a set of rules or directives. At the deepest level, the Sermon on the Mount is an act of imagination – and a rather wild and crazy act of imagination at that. In the Sermon, Jesus reimagines the world and invites us, the church, to live into this new, alternative reality.
The final and most perceptive set of eyes would have looked into the souls of those gathered, seen the spiritual place each resided in their relationship to God and to the world, and discerned the spiritual truth of each person present. Jesus would have looked within their souls and in many would have found poverty of spirit, a hungering for a better life, a restless heart bound up in an unjust system. This is the spiritual truth Jesus addresses when he shares what we call the Beatitudes, his statements about God’s blessedness meeting our deepest need.
Jesus’ surrender on the cross to the power of the Roman empire was an expression of divine power. In that action, he took control of the heart of this world and we continue to live out Jesus’ death and resurrection. The power of love conquering hate. The power of peace conquering war. The power of justice uprooting injustice in our society. Jesus would not take on the warrior mentality. Jesus refused to believe that the only way to end oppression was to become the oppressor. Jesus gathered people together, Jesus released the power of the Holy Spirit to nurture their souls and to change their lives, Jesus proclaimed the message of love, and Jesus saved us from our human tendency to fight back. Jesus built a movement of love, kindness, and compassion and invites us to follow.