I am seeking to impress upon you the good news that Jesus has brought the Kingdom of God directly to you … to be lived in the here and the now. This good news permeated all of his teaching. But as we read and study his opening salvo – his Sermon on the Mount – we must first challenge ourselves with the question: “Do I believe what Jesus believed – and is it good news?”
Otherwise, why even read it? If you do not settle this issue once and for all, you will inevitably be part of the crowd Jesus was addressing when he said,
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)
We do not do what Jesus says to do and we do not live the way Jesus teaches us to live because we do not trust him to be the most reliable source on the best life possible. Oh, we will all exclaim that we do, but if we did, we would live and look more like him. We would more and more bear the family resemblance.1
Some of us will say we try, but it just gets to be too hard to carry out. But, “It is too hard,” would have no bearing on the matter if we truly trusted every single word that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Do you? No.
Last week we played “Let’s Make a Deal.” To advance this idea, let us play again today.
Let’s say I gave you $100,000 in cash, and then said, “It is yours to keep. But I have good news for you. If you will give it back to me, I promise you that you will be happy you did – indeed you will be overjoyed. I guarantee you what I have to give you in exchange will be far more valuable to you than the $100,000.”
Now you would have to perform a Cost-Benefit analysis, wouldn’t you? You’d have to weigh the value of the assured $100,000 now in your possession, against … what? Against the benefit of something you have yet to experience, but are promised is infinitely better than the cash.
But can you trust me? Let’s break down this trust question further, because “trust” requires a deeper look, in order to expose our … distrust.
First, can you trust me to be telling the truth?
Second, can you trust me to have the power to deliver on my promise?
I think most of you would wobble on these questions if they are about me, but you would nod enthusiastically about Jesus on both. “Yes, I trust Jesus is honest and always tells the truth. And yes, of course he has the power to deliver on his promise. I don’t just trust this, I know this with absolute certainty!”
But there is one more aspect of trusting Jesus: Can you trust that his version of his amazing, “Life in the flow of the Kingdom among us,”1 will be better that your version? In your heart of hearts – now don’t miss this: Do you trust that he actually knows what is the best life imaginable? Is his good news for you?
There is the rub: Can you believe that Jesus’ version of the full, abundant life – of the Light of Life – of Banquet Living – of Life in the Kingdom – is all that he says it is? Can you trust that his version is “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine?”2
And so it is with Jesus’ promises. He says you can trust him. He says he knows what is the absolute best for you. He lays it all out in his Sermon on the Mount. He says if you will surrender and follow him into his Kingdom of God, he will lavish you with “Life to the full.”3
He either meant what he said, or he did not. He is either the most reliable source on the best life possible, or he just has some good suggestions, and we can add his to the list of ideas we might or might not try.
Which is it?