TEXT: Matthew 7:28-29
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
As we approach Billy Graham’s birthday celebration, I want to share something from the evangelist whom God made great regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He said, “I’m not a great preacher, and I don’t claim to be a great preacher. I’m an ordinary preacher, just communicating the Gospel in the best way I know how.”
These verses indicate the conclusion of the Sermon On the Mount, Jesus expansive and wide-ranging teaching that spans three chapters and over 100 verses in our modern English Bibles. The report from Matthew tells us that, when Jesus was finished teaching, “the people were astonished at his doctrine.” The Greek word translated as “astonished” is a strong verb which means: ‘to strike out, to expel by a blow, to drive out or away; to strike one out of self-possession [to drive one out of his senses]; to strike with shock, astonishment, or amazement.’ This definition tells us that Jesus’ words were so powerful that they had a near-physical impact on His listeners. They were astonished.
Jesus had challenged what His audience believed and had been taught on a broad range of issues. First, He delivered the Beatitudes in which He taught that the poor, the meek, the merciful, and those who mourn are the ones blessed by God. He commanded them to rejoice in the midst of persecution, to be even more righteous than the Pharisees, to not attempt to approach God without making things right with an offended neighbor. He shocked them when He told them the threshold of sin is lust not adultery, hatred not murder; that divorce was abhorrent in God’s sight, and that they ought to love their neighbors AND their enemies.
Jesus went further when He told them to pray, fast, and do their good deeds in private before God alone; to trust God for their daily needs and pray in a simple, straightforward fashion, and not as the heathen did. He gave them a model prayer on which to establish their entire prayer life. He encourages His listeners to not try to serve God and money, to make a choice; to not worry about food or drink or clothing but to trust God as birds of the air and the beasts of the field do.
He espoused a new paradigm of judgment — one that made man focus on his own faults before taking issue with his neighbors. Again, He encouraged the people to ask, seek, and knock, believing that God would answer just as a father would answer his children. Then, He set before those gathered a stark choice — the straight road or the broad road; the narrow gate or the wide gate; the way that leads to life or the way that leads to destruction. He commanded them to beware of false prophets who had no true spiritual fruit and who would be rejected by the Lord on judgment day. And, finally, He commanded us all to build our lives on the solid rock of obedience to His words.
Jesus’ audience recognized a sharp distinction between Jesus’ teaching and the teaching they regularly heard from the religious leaders in the Temple and in their synagogues. Matthew reports, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Of course, Jesus, being God, the maker of the Law, knew its true intent. The Law was there to show man his shortcomings before God. While the scribes occupied their time bending themselves into pretzels in order to prescribe minute ways people were to abide by the Law — such as not looking in a mirror on the Sabbath — Jesus blew those feeble concepts out of the water and called man to emulate God and abide by the spirit of the Law and not its letter. This was revolutionary for first century Jews.
And it is revolutionary for us today as well, partly because, just as the Jews had sat with the Law for about 1,400 years and missed its true intent, we have sat with Jesus’ teachings for 2,000 years and lost our handle on it’s life-changing, world-shaking power. Too many of Jesus’ teachings have become platitudes that we hear commonly — “Love your neighbors.” “Love your enemies.” “Treat others as you want to be treated.” Etc. We say them, but we don’t really live by them. Instead, we find ways to justify our behavior.
What we need today in the church is a re-awakening to the astonishing teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. We need less hate, more love. Less lust, adultery, and divorce; more husbands and wives staying together. Less sin and more people committed to radical, if-thine-eye-offend-thee-pluck-it-out obedience. No hypocrisy and more people praying, giving, and fasting in secret before the Father alone. Less pursuit of worldly success and material possessions; more laying up of treasures in Heaven. Less worry about tomorrow and more simple trust in God.
What would our lives, the church, and the world look like if we once again found ourselves amazed, astounded, astonished by the Man Christ Jesus and His teachings?
Charles Hutchinson Gabriel wrote:
I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.
For me it was in the garden,
He prayed: “Not my will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat-drops of blood for mine.
When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.