As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!" But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"Luke 11:27-28
Have you ever heard a sermon that made you want to shout with inspiration? Or how about one that made you weep with conviction?
No doubt many of the people felt this way after hearing Jesus speak on the hillsides. He had a way of bringing in the crowds, and his words were sure to cause a reaction. Some things he said delighted them; other things he said made them scratch their heads in confusion; and still other things he said made them cringe with nervousness or boil with rage. Regardless of the response, it’s unlikely that many people walked away from one of Jesus’ sermons without being greatly impacted.
So it is with some preachers in modern churches. There are some who attract the crowds with passionate performances of tales of doom and devastation. Some soothe the crowds with soft-spoken cadence flowing from a heart full of love and mercy. Others use logic, analysis, charts and diagrams to reason with skeptical crowds. Regardless of the style, there is a reason that people flock to the churches they do. One way or another, people are moved and they keep coming back for more.
In one gathering on a hillside, one member of the congregation was so inspired that she could not contain herself. She stood on the spot and blessed Jesus and the mother that brought him into the world. Maybe if this happened in a modern church, the preacher being blessed would blush with humble thanks. But when Jesus was presented with such praise, he was careful to deflect the credit off himself and turn the compliment around, making it into a challenge — no doubt a challenge that the woman did not expect!
Jesus’ job was to get the message past the ears and into the heart. Its easy to tell the pastor how nice his sermon was or how funny her jokes were; it’s another thing altogether to go home and put into practice what was taught. Most people can’t remember what the sermon was about the week before, much less can they say that they did anything as a result of it. I have to admit, many times I hear a sermon and though I enjoyed listening to it, I can't tell you what it was about, but I always leave with the message at the heart of the sermon, which to me is the most important part.
Jesus understood that if no one were to take heed to his teachings and obey his words, all his sermons would mean nothing. Regardless of the style with which a sermon is delivered, words are only words until someone decides to take action. That is why Jesus puts less importance on even his own sermon than on the actions of a single person who takes it seriously!
Next time a sermon moves you, remember the point Jesus is making here. Don’t just hear Jesus’ words. Live them! Know that God loves all of us, regardless of our sins and transgressions. God only asks that we love and obey him and to spread His word. I try to do that daily through my actions toward others, and I hope you will as well.