“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching." Matthew 7:28a
We have come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and it’s no surprise to find out that all the people listening to Jesus were left astonished at His teaching. The word “astonished” means “to be so amazed as to be practically overwhelmed.” Everyone was overwhelmed by Jesus’ insightful words of wisdom, His straightforward teaching of scripture, His fearful warning of the consequences of turning away from God, but most of all, they were overwhelmed by the authority with which He taught. I don’t know about you, but I have been overwhelmed too!
It’s unfortunate that although many of the people were overwhelmed by Jesus’ teaching, they continued walking on the broad way while only a few decided to take the narrow way. Why would so many stay on the broad way? In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis gave a remarkable illustration from his own life of the reason why most people stay on the broad way:
"When I was a child, I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother - at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin, but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain, but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie.”
It is this sort of thinking that keeps many people on the broad way. The price of the narrow way is more than they want to pay. Lewis goes on to say in the imagined words of Christ, “You have free will and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect - until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with Me.”
Which way have you chosen to go? This Sunday morning Jesus will be faithful to overwhelm us yet again as He illustrates that only those who choose the narrow way can “Survive the Storms” (Matthew 7:24-29).
God bless you all and hope to see you there!