3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."
I had never really paid much attention to the words that open the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. I just plunged ahead to the "good stuff" of the "blessed are you if..." and missed something in the opening verses. As we begin to dig into the message of the Sermon, we need to just take a moment to consider the opening verses:
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said...
Jesus is seeing vast crowds attracted to his ministry. You might have been among those who gathered that day if you had lived during that time. Your aim in going to see this "great teacher" may have been to hear his message of hope for a nation, to hope he'd notice your need and heal your body, or to simply see what was going on. Regardless of the reason for the crowd, it is important for us to see who it was that was alongside Jesus - those that apprenticed to him. Odd choice of words, meaning to come to learn a trade, but it describes the early dedication of the disciples. They weren't there because they had a full revelation of Jesus as the Son of God, come to redeem mankind. They were there to "learn a trade" - he had called them to be fishers of men - they were learning how that was done.
Look at the other two traits of these men (and women) - they were committed and they climbed with him. They had pledged their trust to him, even if they really did not know the full meaning of that trust. That is all Jesus hopes for from each of us - that we'd pledge our trust to him and then allow him to prove that he is "trust-worthy". They climbed with him - in contrast to the crowd - they took the extra steps to be close to him. Climbing suggests some effort exerted. I know that I judge a hiking trail by its "rating" of severity - the moderate to difficult trails are just not my speed! These disciples took the climb because they earnestly wanted to be in the position where they might learn the most about this one they followed. They were his "apprentices".
We sometimes think the Sermon on the Mount was to a huge crowd of people, but if we read this passage again, you will see that Jesus sat down with those who climbed with him and began to teach them. It was his "climbing companions" that received the greatest blessing from his teaching. It is there, with his disciples around him, separated from the crowds, that Jesus begins to teach them great truths about living for God, relating to each other, and facing life's challenges. The crowd was not Jesus' focus - it was his climbing companions!
It is only in making the climb that the disciples were in a position of receiving the blessing of his teaching. It is in our daily efforts of being his "climbing companions" that we are in a position of receiving all he has for us. Who are you climbing with today? Tomorrow, we will begin to consider the messages of the Sermon...today, we need to open our hearts to the climb that is ahead!