It was explained to me at great length recently that the thing not to miss about the Sermon on the Mount is how filled it is with doctrinal fulfillment. If I was to completely understand it, according to my colleague, I was first to understand it is already completed. I was to be ultimately grateful Jesus’ ultimate message was there was nothing I could do! My face was to shine at the blissful thought there was nothing at all—not one thing!— I could do to be perfect, to be good, to be righteous, to be lovely to God, to be loved by God, to be lovely to others, to be saved, to be clean, to be healed, to be alive, to be free of Sin, to be set free from even the slightest inclination to sin. Nothing!
I was to read the sermon as if when Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, he had said instead, “Tetelestai!” or as if when he said, “Take up your cross,” he had already taken everyone of them up to Golgotha and left them there. I was to note how, just as he was beginning to open it, he closed the prophetic Book of Grace with substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness. I was to watch gladly as he shut the Book of Life and sealed it with seven seals. In summary, the thing I was to be most careful not to forget was the moment the Lord sat down on the Mount and opened his mouth to speak, he had nothing left to say. It was apparent I was not to take too much notice of what came after for fear of finding Jesus in an embarrassing situation; of catching the Good Teacher playing with lilies and filling the mountainside with platitudes, impossibilities, and impracticalities.
Now, it is always at this point in any lengthy, theological claim such as this that I begin to smile. For, as is often the case, the explanation is in direct opposition to what Jesus actually said. The poor fellow doing the enthusiastic explaining staked his claim so deeply he plunged it into the antipodes; finding himself the owner of a far eastern land with that same philosophy of nothingness where no one is like unto a man who built his house on a rock because he built a Pagoda. With the highest of aims, this good-hearted man so far overshot what the Sermon on the Mount said, that he shot himself. He, like many before and many after, fell into the great danger of talking far too much about what Jesus said, rather than simply listening to what he said. Because when Jesus himself talks about what he said, which he certainly did on the Mount, he has the great Lordly, and therefore practical, sense to say the only thing to really remember about his sermon is how filled it is with things, not for a man to put into his philosophy or his PowerPoint, but to put into his practice. It was expressly for the man, not who would buy his heavenly home on credit, but who would build his house on a rock. Just before he finished, Jesus, my great fulfiller, the once and forever architect of my home, begged me to notice, not how he filled his mountainous sermon with theologies already done, but how he filled it with things to do.