“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”
When was the last time you were amazed by the teachings of Jesus? The crowds that were present during the Sermon on the Mount had grown up in a thoroughly Jewish context and were used to the teaching of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Their religious leaders quoted the Holy Scriptures and the sayings of other Jewish leaders, but they didn’t have what Jesus had: Authority.
Jesus didn’t quote other Jewish religious leaders or their many books about the Law. He did, however, quote the Old Testament regularly, but not as one using it as a source but as the one who actually wrote it.
Sadly, the end of this incredibly profound section of Scripture we call The Sermon on the Mount was not “and thousands were converted” or “thousands decided to put their faith in Him”. It simply records their reaction: they were amazed. I’ve heard thousands of sermons at this point in my life. Some were bad. Some were good. A few were amazing. But this passage is not about effective communication. This passage is calling us to gauge our reaction to the teachings of Jesus Himself.
The people of Jesus’ day were amazed because of His authority. They knew He wasn’t just another teacher…He was different, somehow. Do you read the words of Jesus like any other book? They sound good. They make perfect sense. They are worth pondering. But do they CUT you? Do they EXPOSE you? Do they COMFORT you? Do they EMPOWER you? Do they ENCOURAGE you?
Jesus is speaking to all of us in 21st century America. He is speaking with authority because He is the Author of Life and the Author of Truth and the Author of Salvation. Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades. He is the first and the last…the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Creator of all things and holds Providence over all things.
Yes…His teachings are amazing. Virtually every world religion agrees with that. I’m sure Jesus appreciates us acknowledging that, but that’s not what He’s after. He’s after obedience. He’s after life change. He’s after your heart.
Don’t stop at “they were amazed” like the crowds did back then. You can be amazed at His teachings and still end up in hell. Move from amazed to obedient. That’s the reaction He’s looking for.