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.”

amberhaines
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16 Comments

Susan
Reply February 23, 2010

Now that's voice...

Linda
Reply February 23, 2010

Studying James right now, and we are in chapter 2 on favoritism being sin.... and God choosing the poor to be rich in faith, etc. Thanks for adding your voice to what God has been saying to me this week.... fleshing out the Word so we can see how it applies to our lives.

Ol' Seth
Reply February 23, 2010

Linda,

That's really interesting because I have been working my way through James, and the same verses led me back to the sermon on the mount and the Gospels.

More soon.

Lyla
Reply February 23, 2010

"These people cannot know God."

These, the poor in spirit? He's about to get rolled down that dusty hillside, is he not?

Beautiful stuff. Thanks for this prelude to my time with that Rebel this morning.

Boy Crazy (@claritychaos)
Reply February 23, 2010

Looking forward to more, Seth....

-elizabeth

Erin
Reply February 23, 2010

It took me halfway through to realize what you were doing. Then I had to go back and re-read. Can't wait to read more.

To Think Is To Create
Reply February 23, 2010

I read each word "seeing" all of it, imagining -- oh what must it have been like to be there in those pin drop moments? Total wow.

This transported me. Simply amazing.

To Think Is To Create
Reply February 23, 2010

It also makes me think on "professing to be wise they were made fools". I started that comment this morning and then hit submit too soon just now. Still chewing on this, clearly. :)

Casee
Reply February 23, 2010

chill bumps...good job :)

Seth
Reply February 23, 2010

Thank you ladies (and fellas who have not yet responded). I'll be carrying this out over the next couple (few?) Tuesdays. I'd love to delve into a discussion of what Jesus' statement *means*. I might be coming to some conclusions, but I might be wrong.

To Think, great stuff. I really want some more about the quote. I have lived that quote too often.

Erin and Cassee, thanks. Really. A lot.

Lyla, I think we all deserve a good roll down the hill, right? Hmmm, I do, anyway.

Minnesotamom
Reply February 25, 2010

Rarely do I think of things from a Pharisee's perspective. This was eye-opening and soul-piercing. Thank you, Seth.

thegypsymama
Reply March 2, 2010

"his face radiates joy that comes only from one unacquainted with the law." ~ you just described my sons. I often wish I could bottle that untainted joy to give back to them again one day when they are angst-ridden teenagers. Especially since I am now getting to uncork my own lost vial vicariously through them.

~Lisa-Jo

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