Now when he saw the crowds, He went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him.
I’m not quite sure how i missed this before. Maybe it’s because when you watch movies and biblical documentaries they always portray Jesus as walking among the crowds as he taught. But it says right there that He “sat down…His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.” It is recorded that “large crowds…followed him” just prior to the sit-down lessons. Scripture continues that “the crowds were amazed at his teaching” so we can assume that there was a large crowd of people listening. Yet I’ve come to think that the passage, which we have come to know as “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7), was an extended teaching session for his disciples (however many that may have been) with a whole lot of others sitting around listening in.
I’m not saying that this is what happened. I just like the picture of HIm talking directly to his closest followers and then letting others relate his words as he spoke to those sitting further away. And it’s still happening today. I read the scriptures for my Sunday School lesson and then go into the classroom on Sunday morning and relate what i have learned to the kids. He speaks to me, I pass it on to the class, or a friend or my children or…you get the picture.
His words were stunning. radical and confusing then and now. He was sharing indepth spiritual truths wrapped around practical advice for everyday living. Had I been in that crowd, I think my head would have been spinning after his opening blessings (verses 1-12). I would have had trouble focusing on anything else after that which explains why I find myself reading passages like this over and over. In time, the words from the page become personal as they make thier way from my brain and into my heart.
This pattern of internalizing in order to externalize is one that we still use. I like to take the printed words of scripture and make them personal to myself. Then turn around and see who God has put in my path for me to pass it on to. And I keep it personal, both to myself and the one I am speaking with, otherwise I am just making noise as 1Corinthians 13:1 tells us. Large teachings, as we see in Sunday morning worship sessions, are a great example. I listen and take notes. Over the next week the conversation continues with others as I process what I have learned. What were formally mere words can now begin to take root. Then we can take what we learned in a larger setting and continue it in a more intimate conversation with a friend. This why as much as I love teaching a sunday school class, I find it to be much more fulfilling to exchange just a few word with one student rather than lecture for the whole hour of the class. What has become personal to me can now be transferred to another and the teaching becomes personal to them. In turn, they can pass it on to those that they will connect with.
The Bible can easily become a book to be revered and it should be, but don’t admire it from afar. Never forget the personal aspect of it. God spoke to prophets long ago and they spoke to the people. Then He spoke through the person of His Son who taught others to pass on His direct words. Today, He speaks through those same words as recorded through the pages of Scripture but if it ends there, then we are truly lost. Read it, take it personally, and pass it on.