How we love to read the Sermon on the Mount. Though Jesus speaks about sin, the Sermon is also full of wonderful encouragements. Jesus was a law-giver, but the instructions he has given us, unlike those of the Pharisees, are life-giving. They do not lead to bondage, but to freedom. They do not weary; rather, they bring joy. The words of Jesus are grace filled.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth . . .” (5:3-5). Jesus continues to teach about the blessedness his disciples experience and the joy that is ours and that we are salt and a light on the hill and . . . and . . .
And even when Jesus gets into the real meaty parts of the law – murder, adultery, divorce, lying – you just get this sense that this is not mere legalism, but a kingdom ethic that brings peace and joy. Go the second mile. Love your enemy. Direction on how to pray, to give. Encouragement to trust and rest in the Lord and his provisions. Be sure I am in the right before I begin to point my finger at others. Build on the rock. These are grace filled words. In all the world, there is no equivalent.
Come, you disconsolate, where’er you languish;
come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal.
Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, in mercy saying,
“Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot cure.”
Here see the bread of life; see waters flowing
forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast prepared; come, ever knowing
earth has no sorrows but heaven can remove. -- Thomas Moore, Thomas Hastings (19th century)