Response to the Greatest Sermon
“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28–29).
The response to the best and most astounding preaching ever—the Sermon on the Mount—was in itself very remarkable. Likely some among our Lord’s audience that day believed in Him for salvation. But quite probably the number converted was small, affirming Jesus’ assertion about the narrow gate: “there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14).
The verb translated “were amazed” means to be struck out of oneself, or to be beside oneself with astonishment. The crowd was utterly flabbergasted by the power, comprehensiveness, and extraordinary insight of Christ’s words. Never had people heard such a penetrating description of true righteousness or such a relentless condemnation of self-righteousness.
Even more remarkable is the way Jesus spoke with a power (“authority”) that proved and reflected His sovereignty. Unlike the Jewish teachers, who quoted the rabbis words and additional sacred writings, He quoted only Scripture and spoke as the final authority on truth.
The Sermon on the Mount is important for everyone to hear. But the response to it must not conclude with mere amazement but real, saving faith. If we have read it and meditated upon its instructions and imperatives, we also need to move from astonishment to obedience. Such obedience entails moving from intellectual knowledge of the narrow gate and way to actually entering the gate by faith and following the way to eternal life.
Think back on the many lessons taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Which have struck you with new force? Which are your children in greatest need of hearing? Don’t let His Word grow quiet within you.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.