Sermon on the Mount & Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German pastor, theologian, dissident anti-Nazi and founding member of the Confessing Church.  He gave his life literally fighting evil and wrote a few books on the Christian.  On classic book is titled, The Cost of Discipleship.  In it, he writes a great deal on the Sermon on the Mount.  Since we wrap up Matthew chapter 7 this weekend, I thought it would be fitting to share a little Bonhoeffer with you blog readers.  Here's a quote from the aforementioned book in which he wrote on the famous Sermon on the Mount.  Enjoy!


"LET US PICTURE the scene: Jesus on the mountain, the multitudes, and the disciples. The people see Jesus with his disciples, who have gathered around him. Until quite recently these men had been completely identified with the multitude, they were just like the rest. Then came the call of Jesus, and at once they left all and followed him. Since then they have belonged to him, body and soul. Now they go with him, live with him, and follow him wherever he leads them. Something unique had occurred to them. That disconcerting and offensive fact stares the people in the face. The disciples see the people, from whose midst they themselves have come. These people are the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the elect people of God, the “national Church.” When the call of Jesus had selected them from among the people, the disciples had done what for the lost sheep of the house of Israel was the only natural and necessary thing to do— they had followed the voice of the Good Shepherd, because they knew his voice. Thus their very action in enlisting as disciples proves that they are members of this people; they will live among them, going into their midst, and preaching the call of Jesus and the glory of discipleship. But what will the end be? Jesus sees his disciples. They have publicly left the crowd to join him. He has called them, every one, and they have renounced everything at his call. Now they are living in want and privation, the poorest of the poor, the sorest afflicted, and the hungriest of the hungry. They have only him, and with him they have nothing, literally nothing in the world, but everything with and through God. It but a little flock he has found, and it is a great flock he is seeking as he looks at the people. Disciples and people, they belong together. The disciples will be his messengers and here and there they will find men to hear and believe their message. Yet there will be enmity between them right to the bitter end. All the wrath of God’s people against him and his Word will fall on his disciples; his rejection will be theirs. The cross casts its shadow before, Christ, the disciples, and the people— the stage is already set for the passion of Jesus and his Church. 1 Therefore Jesus calls his disciples blessed (cf. Luke 6.20 ff). He spoke to men who had already responded to the power of his call, and it is that call which has made them poor, afflicted and hungry. He calls them blessed, not because of their privation, or the renunciation they have made, for these are not blessed in themselves. Only the call and the promise, for the sake of which they are ready to suffer poverty and renunciation, can justify the beatitudes. Admittedly, Jesus sometimes speaks of privation and sometimes of deliberate renunciation as if they implied particular virtues in his disciples, but that is neither here nor there. External privation and personal renunciation both have the same ground— the call and the promise of Jesus. Neither possesses any intrinsic claim to recognition. 2 Jesus calls his disciples blessed in the hearing of the crowd, and the crowd is called upon as a startled witness. The heritage which God had promised to Israel as a whole is here attributed to the little flock of disciples whom Jesus had chosen. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But disciples and people are one, for they are all members of the Church which is called of God. Hence the aim of this beatitude is to bring all who hear it to decision and salvation. All are called to be what in the reality of God they are already. The disciples are called blessed because they have obeyed the call of Jesus, and the people as a whole because they are heirs of the promise. But will they now claim their heritage by believing in Jesus Christ and his word? Or will they fall into apostasy by refusing to accept him? That is the question which still remains to be answered."



Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2012-08-07). The Cost of Discipleship (pp. 105-107). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.