Sermon on the other side of the mount

The Lonely Mountain, KuroCyou | 2014

We have well traveled this path to the feet of the teacher. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted — blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy. The Sermon on the Mount. The longest text, the crux, of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament.

But come with me, dear reader, down the other slope. Maybe the following isn’t completely true, for positive statements need not imply their negative corollaries. However, walk with me and note the tracks of other New Testament voices here and there.

 And he opened his mouth and taught them, [probably implying]:

 “Cursed are the rich, for what they own now is all they will receive.

 “Cursed are the comfortable, for their end is grief.

 “Cursed are the haughtily powerful, for they will lose the world they boast over.

 “Cursed are those who lust after ill-got gain, for they will never be satisfied.

“Cursed are the vengeful, for they will receive the same treatment.

“Cursed are the wicked in heart, for such keeps them from seeing God.

“Cursed are the warmakers, for it will be said they have nothing to do with God.

“Cursed are those who are rewarded for evil, for what they own now is all they will receive.”

Follow this thought experiment on its winding way down the mountain. At this next switchback, hear James say “listen you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming for you!” (Jas 5:1). When we come to the tree over there, note the ancient proverbs about God opposing the proud. Toward the end of the slope we’ll come to base camp, where the teacher himself sets it all out:

the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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