October 01, 2013

A New Way to Live

Matthew 5:1-2

Jesus … went up on a mountainside … And he began to teach.
—Matthew 5:1-2


Not far from where we live in Oregon are what the locals call the Coast Range Mountains. These beautiful formations separate the rocky coast of the Pacific Ocean from the lush Willamette Valley that carves a path through the western half of Oregon. Having grown up near the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, I’ve always felt the name “mountains” was a generous title for the Oregon range. They are a delight for the eyes, but to me they don’t quite look like mountains!

When Matthew describes Jesus climbing a mountainside, the locals may have wondered if he too was being generous. The landscape around the Sea of Galilee more closely resembled foothills. But Matthew chose his words deliberately. He was calling to mind a similar event from many centuries past. Exodus 19 describes the time when God’s people gathered at Mount Sinai while Moses went up the mountain to receive God’s law. The law that Moses received was a guide to the covenant way of life that God called his people to follow.

Now Jesus was remaking history. As he began teaching from a “mountainside,” he outlined for his followers a renewed way of life based on God’s ancient law, explaining how we are called to live truly for our Lord. As we spend this month listening to Jesus, we will hear him challenge, encourage, comfort, and correct us. Are you ready to embrace a new way to live?

Lord, you offer a way of life that we deeply desire but cannot gain on our own. Help us receive this gift by faith in you. Amen.

About the author — Rob Toornstra

Rob Toornstra has served as pastor of Sunnyslope Christian Reformed Church in Salem, Oregon, since 2006. When not busy with pastoral duties, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

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