Perspectives: A Sermon From the Mount, Part 3


A short series.  For more, see Part 1 and Part 2.

A Sermon From the Mount, Part 3

It is an unnatural feeling, this nerve bristling, bubbling up at the end of my skin until rubbing and clawing produces no relief but only open wounds. Before the shame, I used to look into my wash basin, marveling at the face that had been knit for me in my mother’s womb. Now, my nose is bulbous and swollen. I miss my nose more than I miss my faith.

I stand apart from this crowd—a crowd of former respect. They would seek me out and ask me questions about the scriptures. They followed my lead on the practicalities of pure living, of living by the code. They knew I held an open hand to the poor, blessed as I was. But today, I respect their well-founded fear and stand a healthy span away. I can feel their judging eyes.

When the doctors saw my thickening skin and the maddening look in my eyes, he breathed the words “leprosy” and the people collectively whispered “sinner.” Some said that my piety had been seen as idolatry in the eyes of God. Some said I must have obtained my wealth by thievery or cunning words. Mostly, though, the crowds accused me of sleeping with the same prostitutes that are waiting for this rebel-healer to speak. There are so many prostitutes in this crowd.

The lepers say that this teacher’s words are salve and salvation, and though I am not convinced, I hope. The law has failed me. The doctors have failed me. My family and wealth fled. And I stand here with nothing but lepers’ rags and hope. Soon, I will pass away and my rags will be burned in accordance with the laws of the Pharisees. I pray that my hope meets no such fate.

He surveys the crowd slowly and I know that look. It is the look of the doctor disclosing a terminal disease. But then, the left side of his lips curls into a sly half-smile as he turns to me. His eyes are knowing and he reminds me of my list of former accomplishments: the Sabbath rest, the scripture recitation, the unleaveness of it all. The right side of his mouth curls mirror-image and his spirit whispers to mine, “go and sin no more.”

Then, with the joy of a king handing an appointment to his closest of friends, he stretches an invisible scepter to my heart and his voice explodes across the valley,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Seth
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10 Comments

Carrie McKean
Reply March 17, 2010

I love the picture you paint of my Jesus pushing the bounds of social acceptability to love the least and the lost. When we take His cue and live in love, it always results in Kingdom-explosion, right? I live and work with orphans with special needs in China, and it never ceases to amaze me how many hurting hearts are opened to the Healer when they spend a little time with the broken and forgotten little ones in our care -- the ones no one wanted. When they see His love expressed in the children's eyes, it softens their hearts and they want to know the why behind the actions they see... They want to know more about the Kingdom alive in their eyes and in their laughter.

    Seth
    Reply March 17, 2010

    Carrie,

    These are the ideas I wanted to explore. I'm hoping to learn something by dropping myself into the story (though I rather identify with the character in part 1, unfortunately). I have to believe that there is a reason why Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19). Is it part of the metaphor? Sure. But is there also a reason he dealt with the physically and spiritually marginalized? I think so.

John
Reply March 17, 2010

'There are so many prostitutes in this crowd.'

Seth, that's a piercing line...we whore ourselves out to so much...so very much.

Keep writin'...
(Hi, Amber)

    Seth
    Reply March 17, 2010

    John,

    When a hero writes to encourage you to "keep writin'," you can't not. Just sayin'.

    (Hi, Amber)

nic
Reply March 17, 2010

Seth, this is my favorite one! I love the raw and honest descriptions; you've made it effortless for the reader to see what you, the writer, see. Love that.

Also, love your sentence structure - the last line of every paragraph? Gold.

Maybe it's because I've been thinking a lot today about freedom and serving, but this got to me. Well done!

Jen
Reply March 17, 2010

Wow. This definitely hit right through my soul and to my spirit.

Again, Wow. I echo John in saying, Don't stop writing. You have a gift.

Sue Sue
Reply March 17, 2010

I love that you love words. Thank you.
Mom

Carrie
Reply March 17, 2010

It reminds me of Is. 68 -- do these things and then your light will break forth. You will be the restorer of broken walls and make places livable again. He doesn't want our religion, He wants our love to pour out unhindered... because when we do that, the Kingdom spreads like wildfire...

bekah
Reply March 19, 2010

"he stretches an invisible scepter to my heart"
-i love that.
oh, i love that.
i love how in a moment, what was our horrible shame, the wearing, the visible of our disgrace, is touched with His loving adoption.
He pierces soul and marrow and deems us
blessed.
beautiful, seth. beautiful.

anna
Reply March 22, 2010

beautiful..

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