Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.- Matthew 7:24
In the cockpit of all well-designed fighter jets is a large, well-marked button which enables the pilot to eject from the jet in a time of distress, as for example when the cockpit is on fire. When the pressure gets too great, when the danger comes close to the heart of the pilot, when the heat is highest, the pilot can eject from the cockpit to escape the danger. I think no section of scripture has as many “eject buttons” as does the Sermon on the Mount spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ and recorded flawlessly in Matthew 5-7.
The Sermon on the Mount has always stood as a challenge to superficial expressions of the Christian faith. It probes the deepest (and darkest) recesses of our souls and shows us how far we are naturally from the perfection that God requires. This causes many Christians to press the “eject button” and escape from the power of these truths. Perhaps it bothers us that God should require perfection, but Jesus clearly says that He does: “You must be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). “No one’s perfect,” comes the ready reply, and we press the “eject button.” There… it’s done—now we don’t have to be troubled by this difficult teaching anymore! Nor do we have to wonder what Jesus meant when He said “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:30). We say, “Clearly Jesus didn’t mean that we are literally to do this kind of cutting!” and we thus “eject” from the conviction Jesus meant for us to feel. Did Jesus mean that we’re supposed to mourn—really mourn—over sin (Matt. 5:4)? Are we really supposed to “Give to the one who asks us,” and “not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from us” (Matt. 5:42)? And “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44)? Can this really be expected of us?
The answers are yes, yes, and yes. But you have to understand how Jesus intends His disciples to obey these commands. The whole key in understanding the beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12, is the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (5:3) which shows the proper posture for entering Christ’s Kingdom…lowly and humble. Being poor in spirit is simply and humbly admitting that you are spiritually bankrupt, and that only God can fulfill His righteous expectations of you. Brokenness then leads to mourning for sin (5:4), which leads to genuine meekness (5:5), and a deep hungering and thirsting after righteousness (5:6). This righteousness is given as a gift and worked out in us in all the scenarios reflected in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. But because of our deeply entrenched sinfulness, this righteousness is not worked out easily but with great pain and difficulty, and with many a time for “mourning” over our hearts.
"Being poor in spirit is simply and humbly admitting that you are spiritually bankrupt, and that only God can fulfill His righteous expectations of you."
At the end of this masterpiece of communication and command, Christ clearly shows His expectation that all His disciples both hear and obey these teachings: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). We must never press the “eject button” because the kind of life Christ commands is impossibly difficult. Rather we must see that this kind of deep repentance and faithful obedience is the only true path to the “blessedness” which the first word of the sermon promises.