This sermon introduces the Sermon on the Mount by asking why we should trust the words of Jesus found in Matthew 5-7. Jesus addresses big life questions and if we don’t know why we should trust his answers, then we might place the authority of others on par with that of Jesus. Christ is the expert of all experts, which is the reason his teaching must be heeded.
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This is the first sermon in a new series on the Sermon on the Mount. In this message, Greg establishes why anyone should listen to Jesus, the teacher, in the first place, asking why we should trust what Jesus said more than other teachers. The answer is because he’s the only one with the credentials to prove he’s in a position to know what he’s talking about. He is the expert.
In any given area of life, being able to determine who is an expert is crucial. If you don’t know anything about cars, it is important to know who you can trust when something goes wrong with yours. As much as we like to tell ourselves we are independent thinkers, we all depend on outside authorities for most of what we believe and do.
It’s no different when we talk about life’s big issues – we must ask who has the credentials to address them. Jesus claimed to be the expert on big questions, in the unique position to know what he was talking about. In Matthew 11:27-28, he claimed that all things are handed over to him by the Father, and then he says that he is the only one who knows God and can reveal God. He was saying that compared to what he knows and reveals about the Father, it’s as if all previous revelations reveal nothing. It is an outlandish claim. This is not the only time he makes a claim that puts himself at the center, where he puts himself in the place of God or above Old Testament commands.
This pattern is extended beyond the claims of Jesus. The disciples and other writers of the New Testament gave him titles that only belonged to Yahweh and even prayed to Jesus as if he were God. Why did these writers of the New Testament make such radical statements about the expertise of Jesus? There are four basic reasons.
First, Jesus manifested unprecedented authority. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew reported that people recognized the unique authority that Jesus had. They sensed the divine power and wisdom that commanded allegiance.
Second, Jesus had a blameless life. No other leader of a movement has made this claim, much less actually lived a sinless life.
Third, Jesus had the ability to heal and drive out demons. Throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated God’s loving character and coming Kingdom by freeing people from spiritual oppression, by healing the blind, the deaf, the mute, lepers, people with deformities, people with hemorrhages, and even by raising several people from the dead.
Finally, Jesus rose from the dead. Despite the authority with which he taught, the life he lived, the miracles he performed and people he set free, the Gospels as well as Paul point to Jesus’ resurrection as the greatest proof that Jesus was simply telling the truth when he claimed to be one with the Father. The credal form of this argument is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
How do we explain how a bunch of first century monotheistic Jews came to believe that a fellow contemporary Jew who claimed to be God wasn’t delusional but was telling the truth? And how do we explain why they were willing to risk and eventually lose their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world? These four basic reasons justify such radical trust in Jesus.
And for these reasons, we can trust Jesus as the expert concerning life’s ultimate questions. There are a lot of competing voices asking us to believe what they’re saying about life’s ultimate questions. Some undoubtedly have good and true things to say, and there are things we can learn from them. But Paul wrote in Colossians 2 that all we can know and need to know about life’s greatest questions is found in Christ. Christ is THE expert of all experts. With this in mind, we should read the Sermon on the Mount as if our very lives depend upon these words – because they do!
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