I was a little bewildered when the Holy Spirit chose to alert me to a deeper meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. Do you ever have those moments when you read something in the Scripture that causes you to want to shut the book and not read further? As I read this familiar passage, God pointed out that I was guilty of the sins Jesus exposed in His sermon. I thought to myself, “Surely this is not what the Holy Spirit is saying to me.” I even read back through it, looking for something else I could focus on. But no, it was clear God was guiding me to reflect on how this sermon exposed my personal sin in ways I would rather not consider.
I didn’t like the feeling of reading a sermon that exposed my sin. I wanted my Bible reading to point out how I could do better, or even how much better I am than the average sinner. Why would God draw my attention to these sins at this time?
I couldn’t figure it out, so I looked up commentaries to make me feel more comfortable about my sin. I was determined to justify myself. It was there that I discovered that I am not alone in my desire to justify sin. I found several commentators who were willing to give me rationale for not fully facing the sinner that I am. It felt good for a moment, but I knew that wasn’t the reason God pointed my sin out to me.
It was in a discussion with my husband that my theology lesson was made clear. As I read from The Sermon on the Mount, his response was, “So what Jesus is really trying to say here on the Sermon on the Mount is that we are all screwed—excuse my language—he used a more forceful word.” Then he went on to explain, “Jesus is really telling us here that our sin is far worse than we can ever imagine. That’s the reality. So what our Contrarian God is also implying in this sermon is that His forgiveness and grace expands far deeper than we could ever have conceived.”
My sin is far beyond my own knowledge. I needed the Holy Spirit to gently nudge me to be willing to look at my sin. Jesus knows every ounce of unholiness about me and He is willing to forgive so great a sin. This is a monumental lesson that my mind does not really take in fully. If I’m unwilling to face my sin, I miss out on the realization of the deep, deep grace of God.
The other lesson I learned is that I have no place to judge my brother, for I am a sinner, too. This is a lesson I find difficult to remember. Suddenly, the realization of my sin was truly a gift from God. I became grateful to open my soul more deeply to the grace He offers.
If you are having trouble judging others, perhaps a quick read of the Sermon on the Mount might be good for your soul.