He stood on a level place.

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“He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.”

Luke 6:17-26

Luke said that people came from as far away as Tyre and Sidon, nearly 300 miles from Jerusalem. That is the impact that Jesus and his teachings were having on the people of Israel. It wasn’t I-heard-something-interesting-on-the-radio curiosity. It wasn’t I-need-to-read-more-about-that interest. Rather, this was a drop-everything-now urgency.

So the people came, and Luke describes this teaching moment that we often call “the Sermon on the Mount.” So called because it was in the foothills around Jerusalem, convenient for people to see the speaker and easier to hear his message. I suppose it could also be called “Sermon on the Mount” because what people heard that day was higher and grander than anything they had ever heard.

In the sermon, Jesus turned the ethics of the day upside down. He didn’t bless the Wall Street types. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg were about as far away from him as you could get. Jesus began this famous sermon with the earth-shaking “Blessed are you who are POOR.” And….”Woe to you who are full now.”

This is not something those who have a 401k, a home in the Hamptons, and yacht at the marina want to hear. It disturbs the status quo and suggests a different reality in the Kingdom of God where humility, generosity, and sacrifice are the values of the day. Certainly not greed and self-centeredness.

“Blessed are you poor” sticks in the throat. It confounds governments and corporations. It strikes at the heart of those who base their lives on the Dow Jones Industrials and the health of the country on the amount of money we spend on ourselves.

I think the people that had collected on that level place heard something that caught their attention and gave them hope that maybe the Roman government that ruled them would not have the last say about what God takes notice of.

Something to think about: How does Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount affect you? What kind of changes do you think Jesus was calling for in the sermon?

Something to pray about: Jesus, when we listen to you, we are disturbed. We even wonder if we would be anywhere near Jesus on the day he delivered that sermon. So we pray that you will help us to think more deeply, more seriously about what you told that crowd of people. Amen.

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