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We conclude Understand The Sermon On The Mount by letting Jesus shine on and through us. Once past 2,000 years of commentary on Jesus, we can examine what He means for us, today. 

Understand The Sermon On The Mount-A2

2. Shine On Us: vs 11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
a. "Blessed are you": Did you notice the change from 'they' to 'you'. Jesus shifted the subject from general to specific, focused right in on the disciples. One time I was sitting in a church, next to a guy from the Southern U.S. The preacher was preaching against sin and he was getting pretty wound up. Every time he mentioned a new sin he pounded the podium to bring the point home. Bang! Every time the preacher pounded the podium, my neighbor would shout Amen! It went kinda like this: Murder! Bang! Amen! Adultery! Bang! Amen! Stealing! Bang! Amen! Cheating on taxes! Bang!…nothing. Since I didn't hear my neighbor shout amen, I leaned toward him in time to hear him mutter under his breath, "That man's done gone from preachin' ta medlin'. Jesus, in shifting from 'they' to 'you' is making it very clear to His disciples that they are now the subject; that the light of struggle is sometimes directed by God to shine on them…and us. As if to make His point even clearer, He says…
b. "When" not if: He was no longer being vague, suggesting something might happen. He was saying this will happen to you. It was a prophecy, one of many He would give to that small group of His closest followers. They were going to be treated just like the prophets of old…they would be slandered, harassed, jailed, maybe even killed. He says you're lucky when this happens to you; rejoice; be glad; throw a party! What??? Because your reward is great in heaven, just like the prophets of old. How many of us throw a party when someone mistreats us? I do…a pity party! For refreshments, someone often offers me cheese to go with my whine. Jesus is telling His disciples, and us, to rejoice when struggle comes because He has chosen struggle and persecution as a way to bless and reward us. Whew! Read that one again! I know a child whose faith in God has powerfully grown because of an ugly court battle her parents are going through. Jesus said it rains on everybody, even His followers. But He has chosen to rain down blessings far greater than the storm.

He uses struggle to shine for us, on us, and through us.

3. Shine Through Us: vs 13-16 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Even though many modern Bibles separate vs 13-16 from the previous vs with a heading "Salt and Light" there is nothing in the original language to suggest a change of subject.
a. Stay salty: Jesus said we add flavor to the world, we salt the earth with enthusiasm. It's interesting how some who are too religious frown on enthusiasm. The word literally means 'God in you'. That's the salt Jesus wants us to salt the earth with. I suppose we could go around with the Lost In Space attitude of Dr. Smith and constantly proclaim "We're doomed!" every time something bad happens. How does that glorify God? We can't lose our flavor when bad things happen, because our flavor is going to flavor the world with the spice "God in you."
b. Let Him shine: Finally, to bring the point home as clearly as possible, Jesus tells them, and us, you are the light of the world. It's significant that He didn't say, "I am the light of the world." This is one of the first teachings He gave His disciples. I can't think of a way He could have made them or us feel any more valuable in God's kingdom. As if He hadn't made it clear before, Jesus is saying our whole being is to light the world. It's not to say that we are to shine the light or proclaim the light or even turn the light on. He isn't telling us to do anything. He is telling us what we are. It's how we live, not what we say, that's going to bring light to the darkness. He is also telling us not to hide our light. This is a real risk because He's told us we'll attract persecution and struggle like bugs to light. Our challenge is to stay in it and not turn off the light. Because His followers staying faithful through struggle and persecution is His…
c. Plan for evangelism: Struggle is how Jesus reveals Himself and His love for a sick and dying world. We have the glorious opportunity to live in Him through that struggle and participate in His plan, just as He did. This is something for us to praise God about, that each of us is a vehicle through whom Jesus saves the world.  Whatever our struggle is, Jesus uses it to shine his light in us, on us, and through us to give life and love.

Dear Lord, it's so easy for us to get focused on the wrong end of the deal, to feel, because things are going wrong, we must be out of your favor. We thank you that your Word makes it so clear that things going wrong may just as well be a sign we're right in the center of your will; that we have a great opportunity to see you in the struggle and to reveal you for others. Thank you for this blessing. Help us to keep our focus on you and your plan rather than the pain of the moment. Thank you for using us to be salt and light for the world.

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