Jesus’ teaching is not just an add-on, something extra for extra-spiritual Christians. Rather, Jesus’ teaching is central to Jesus’ entire life. It fits hand-in-glove with Jesus’ healings and miracles, his death and resurrection. If you’re going to claim to follow Jesus, if you’re going to claim to be a Christian, following Jesus’ teaching is not an option—it’s part of the standard package.
Two examples from Matthew highlight this.
First, there’s the end of the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:24-27. That’s Jesus’ well-known story of the wise and foolish builders. The wise man builds his house upon the rock, and when the storm comes his house stands firm. The foolish man, however, builds his house upon the sand, and when the storm comes his house is destroyed. A sobering image in these days of hurricanes and floods.
Often that parable is taken to mean, “Build your life on God,” or “Build your life on the Bible.” But that’s not actually what Jesus says. Jesus says, “whoever hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” The wise man is not someone who builds their life on God in the abstract, or on general “biblical principles.” The wise man is that person who specifically follows Jesus’ teaching—especially his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, which is what Jesus is referring to here.
And then there’s the very end of Matthew’s Gospel, another well-known passage, the Great Commission. This is where Jesus gathers his disciples after his resurrection, and he says these words:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
In other words, this is a critical, non-negotiable part of being a disciple of Jesus: striving to follow everything Jesus has taught. Yes, even the hard bits. Even the bits we think are unrealistic or impractical. “Everything,” Jesus says—including the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus is our Teacher with a capital-T, and we are all—everyone in the church, from the youngest to the oldest—Jesus’ students.
Jesus is our Rabbi with a capital-R, and we are all—all who claim the name “Christian”—Jesus’ disciples, learning from him like apprentices to a master, following his teachings and his way of life.
Below is the full audio of Pastor Michael’s sermon from Sept. 10, 2017, “Lord, Teach Us!” This is the first in a year-long focus on Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7.