(This is the eighth and final installment of The Awesomeness Conspiracy’s 2015 Lenten devotional on the Sermon on the Mount. Thanks for walking through the season with us! To view the entire series on a single page, click on the Lent 2015 tab above.)
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
He had redefined the law. Fulfilled it.
Love. Unbridled, unconditional. Counter-intuitive, upside-down, inside-out.
Love that puts the welfare of others ahead of self.
Love that places no burden on others. Love that sees through God’s eyes.
Love that sees through God’s heart.
The gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Their religious leaders had gotten it so wrong. It was so easy for them to condemn the imperfect and unclean. To protect their comfortable traditions, their strict legalism, their cozy doctrine…that, Jesus said, was a wide and easy path.
Anyone can cling to those things that benefit oneself and exclude those who don’t measure up. Anyone can call others to conform to their self-interest.
But this way of love, a love that gives and sacrifices and humanizes even those who would do us harm…this way is narrow. This way is hard.
This way is life.
Discard the way of false truth that destroys life on its way to self-salvation.
Real truth reveals itself in real love. Real peace. Kindness, patience, generosity, gentleness. Against these, there is no law.
Bear good fruit, Jesus says. Not the bad fruit of the Pharisees and religious elite that poisons and kills, but the fruit of love that nourishes and flourishes.
You can call out my name all you want. Use me to declare your own power and righteousness till you’re blue in the face. But unless you love, you’ll never know me.
Good news. Kingdom news.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
Love is the way to life. Love that respects the God-breathed humanity and dignity of each other person. Love that blesses the undeserving.
It had to be true. No other “truth” could measure up.
There was authority in these words, in this man, like none they had witnessed before.
It was as if their leaders, the ones who claimed God’s truth, who called them to follow God’s law, who confidently declared who was “in” and who was “out,” didn’t really know God at all.
To truly know God, to be citizens of his kingdom, was to truly understand that love alone fulfills the law.
This was a kingdom worth living for.
This was a kingdom worth dying for.