“And 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 and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
Jesus had spent all night in prayer. “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12 ESV What was primarily on his mind was the selection of his twelve apostles. The morning after that all night vigil of prayer, he selected the twelve that would be his apostles. “And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:” Luke 6:13 ESV. Jesus had many disciples, but he selected twelve to be his closest associates, to whom he would entrust his message of the gospel. The number twelve is not random, there is a reason Jesus chose that number. Jesus is reframing, reforming, redefining Israel. Just as Israel had twelve tribes, Jesus had his twelve apostles.
So Jesus upon the mountain had spent the night in prayer. While still upon the mountain, he called his disciples to him and gave them his definitive teaching on the kingdom, the reign, the government of God. We know this as the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7. After giving his disciples this teaching on the nature of the kingdom and how to live it, he came down from the mountain, like Moses came down the mountain. He comes down the mountain where he was met by a large crowd of would be disciples. These were a large crowd of people wanting to be healed by Jesus and learn from Jesus. And Jesus then gives them the Sermon the Plain, recorded in Luke.
Matthew gives us sermon on the mount to the twelve, Luke gives us the sermon Jesus gave on the coastal plain by the Sea of Galilee to the vast crowd of would-be disciples, you might say to the masses.
Luke’s sermon is only 1/4 the size of that recorded in Matthew, but it is the same sermon. And it is a sermon to change the world. But – the degree to which the church throughout history has ignored the Sermon on the Mount and Sermon on the Plain is scandalous.
Why has the church been so steadfast, so deliberate in ignoring this teaching of Jesus. Because what we really want is Jesus to die for us but to leave our world alone. We want Jesus to give us our ticket to heaven but leave our world basically alone, especially if we find ourselves somewhere situated near the top.
If our class, our race, or our nation finds itself in an advantageous position in this world system we really don’t want Jesus messing with it too much. That’s why we might be very nervous, or intimidated by, these two sermons and we largely ignore them. We want Jesus to die for us and leave our world alone, but Jesus has no intention of leaving our world alone. Jesus intends to save our world by changing our world.
As I sit on my leather couch, with a blanket on to keep my feet from being too cold as the wind blows outside and my heat blows inside to keep it nice and comfy, I’d have to say that I’m mostly pretty comfortable with my life as-is. As I think about what I think my plans are for say, twenty years from now, and how I’ve taken steps to get there, I’m pretty comfortable with life as it is. As I think about the struggles I have in my life and the things I might ask Jesus to help me with, I’m pretty sure I’m pretty comfortable with the world mostly as it is. It seems to have mostly worked out pretty well to my advantage. Sure, others may have more, but most in the world have far less. Being honest, I would just as well make a few adjustments to “accommodate” Jesus rather than have him change it all. I’ve made many changes in my life, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about these things. I’ve come a long way, baby! But, what if Jesus tells me something like this – “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:21 ESV
Am I willing to give it all? Am I willing to actually take up my cross, and follow?