Jump Start # 2581
Matthew 5:1-2 “And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And opening His mouth He began to teach them”.
After all these years of reading my Bible and preaching, I have found something in Jesus that I don’t like. It’s nothing wrong. Jesus never did anything wrong. It’s a way He did something. It worked for Jesus. It doesn’t work for me.
Our verse today is the opening scene to the sermon on the mount. We often fly through these verses to get to the sermon itself. But Jesus did something here. He sat down. He wasn’t standing when He preached this lesson. And, this wasn’t the only time. In Matthew 13, a large crowd gathered, so Jesus got in a boat, sat down and preached while the multitude stood on the beach.
I recently preached a sermon sitting down. It wasn’t by choice, it was just the way things worked out. I was at home making a video. With a ipad, tripod, and needing to put my Bible and notes on something, the best arrangement was to sit at my desk at home. Boy, I didn’t like it. This video preaching without an audience is hard. It’s not natural or comfortable. One wonders if the connections are being made. And, for me, I like to walk around. Can’t do that when the camera is stationary. I’ll be so glad when I can be back in the pulpit again.
Jesus sat down and taught. He did that more than once. I am amazed at that. I wondered why He would do that. Here are a few thoughts:
First, when the speaker is sitting, those standing tend to gather in much closer so they can see and hear. There is more of an intimacy and closeness this way. Can you imagine being that close to Jesus? What a special blessing that would have been. Jesus sat down.
Second, there is a sense of power in His words. Jesus was God on earth, however, it was His words that He wanted people to hear and understand. It was His words that carried authority. Standing carries a sense of power and authority. It can be intimidating. Jesus created an atmosphere that invited and welcomed people. They were not threated by His presence or His position. His words were strong. Sometimes the crowd was bothered by what Jesus said. Sometimes they were even offended. But it wasn’t His presence. He was not threatening. He was not scary. People were not afraid to be around Him.
We were in St. Louis many years ago, walking down a sidewalk. We got close to the Federal Exchange building. An armored car was there with several armed guards all around. They shouted at us to stop and then to get on the other side of the street. They meant business. The tone of their voices and the guns they had in their hands showed us that they meant business. We walked on the other side. We never said a word to them. Our Lord was not like that. People didn’t run in fear of Him. It was just the opposite. Children, multitudes, even critics gathered around Him. They couldn’t stay away from Him. Jesus sat down.
Third, it is interesting what God has preserved and what was passed on from generation to generation about Jesus. It is His words. It is those words that are important. We don’t know exactly what Jesus looked like. Most modern representations have Him bearded and with long hair. Maybe. Maybe not. In most pictures, Jesus stands out by the way He looks. Everyone is wearing ugly drab colors and there is Jesus in all white or bright and brilliant colors. That’s not how God preserved Jesus. It wasn’t in how He looked or dressed. It was in what He said. The Holy Spirit would remind the apostles what Jesus said. The words of Jesus is what saves. That’s what we have. That’s what is given to us by God. This is how God wants us to know Jesus. Jesus sat down. Jesus taught that way.
Fourth, the Bible teaches that when Jesus ascended to Heaven, that He SAT DOWN on the right hand of God. Jesus sat. Jesus rules from the throne of Heaven. And, in an interesting passage, when the preacher Stephen was being murdered for what he was saying, he saw a vision of Jesus. He said, “I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” If someone walks into a room while we are sitting, the polite thing to do is to stand. This isn’t about being polite. Jesus stood as Stephen was dying. It’s as if He wants a better view and is ready to welcome Stephen. What a grand thought that is.
Jesus sat while He preached. I plan to stand. I need to stand. I can’t do what Jesus did. But how something so little like sitting, can bring such great lessons for us.