Perspectives: A Sermon from the Mount, Part 1
a story by Seth Haines:
A Sermon from the Mount, Perspective 1
It is best to use discretion when taking notes on a potential rebellion, and so I stand slump-shouldered next to the most average looking man I can find. There are always rules to be followed, and so I carefully draw my limbs inward, so as not to rub shoulders with the common cold carriers or the prostitutes to my front and back. There are so many prostitutes.
A young boy stands beside me, dirty and smelly. His shirt is nearly reduced to rags. He jumps up and down, hoping to see his hometown hero. His father, laughing at all the efforts of a five-year old, reaches under the boy’s shoulders and hoists him atop his own. The boy sees the target of his affection now, and his face radiates joy that comes only from one unacquainted with the law.
Give him time. He will see the futility of un-burdened joy.
At thirty-two, I understand much that the crowd does not. Purity has a price; discipline is godliness in fact; mercy and law are intertwined. To see, we must do. Grace is not free. It is not enough to sit atop a father’s shoulders and radiate, and understanding this has made me successful. A teacher and a judge, I mete out justice to many in this crowd on a regular basis. I have esteem and respect. They do not.
The cripples occupy the front row, and more are being carried forward by the minute. Directly behind them stand the prostitutes and tax collectors. The pan handler that regularly sits in the market is there with the other poor and needy. And, as usual, he continues to jingle that blasted cup of copper coins. Jingling is not magnetic. It will not attract more.
John is standing off to the side—not the one who follows the rebel, but the formerly devout one who, now leprous, has denied the creator. His eyes, the only part of his body not covered in leper’s garb, are fixed on the thirteen men.
These are the people of rebellion: people discontent with the practice of purity; people willing to negotiate affections to make a living; lepers who do not respect proximity. They say they want “healing” but are unwilling to sacrifice. These people cannot know God. And I, the one who drew this short-straw note-taking assignment, stand the only worthy one among them. A true rabbi would not choose this crowd.
He stands and the masses fall pin-drop silent. His eyes begin to pick the crowd apart, darting from heart to heart. He is magnetic and his positive meets my negative and our gazes lock. And with the knowing eyes of my mother, he invades me, and his voice thunders:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”