On Sunday, I got to do something I’ve been wanting to do for many years: preach the entire Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) from memory. This post isn’t about what I learned from the content of The Sermon itself (that could be a zillion blog posts). That said, here are some things I have learned or was reminded of from the experience.
1. God’s Word is powerful.
Many people in our church family were moved by the pure proclamation of God’s Word. Some were brought to tears, many were listening with their heads bowed, and the presence of God in our midst was unmistakable. Jesus’ most famous Sermon doesn’t have a cute or funny introduction, and it isn’t very long (it took me 18 ½ minutes to preach it). But it was pure spiritual power, because it was God’s Word.
2. Scripture memory is possible.
As a pastor, one of the privileges of my calling is being able to devote hours during the week doing something like memorizing long portions of Scripture. Obviously, many Christians will not have the time to memorize 3 chapters in a week; but the fact that a pastor could memorize 3 chapters shows that memorization in some quantity is possible for almost everybody in the church.
3. Spend time saturating in Scripture.
To memorize The Sermon, I would take the chapters section by section, verse by verse, and repeat it to myself over and over. It took me about 8 hours to memorize 107 verses. Then I recited the whole thing more times than I even counted. I probably spent 12-15 hours just saturating and reciting Jesus’ words. I don’t normally take that much time. But it is time well-spent, better spent than anything else we could do.
4. People are hungry for Scripture.
I think that Sunday was like a cool and healing rain for our church. It was Jesus’ words, hard sometimes, surprising, powerful and full of grace and truth. True Christians long for God’s Word, and preaching should make people hungry for more. It should show them that the Bible is powerful and alive, and understandable (though not always easy).