"Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand," said the Lord at the conclusion of the famous Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon was not a philosophical discussion to be listened to and understood, perhaps, and forgotten later. In that glorious Sermon He had breathed the spirit of God. The Sermon was the word of God, the Eternal Message that is ever afire with the flame of Divinity. Jesus lives in that Sermon.
Remember, the angels had commanded Joseph to christen the child Jesus, for He would save people from sin. Now study the Sermon on the Mount again and again: is that not a Light that saves you from the darkness of sin? Every word of it exhorts you to turn away from sin and enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. By His own glorious life Lord Jesus had kept the doors to the Kingdom of God wide open for people of all times to enter. The Lord's life here was nothing but a living commentary on that Sermon.
Jesus was God Himself. The Holy Scripture reminds us of this fact again and again. Yet, why did He have to endure so much of persecution and suffering? Could He not have by a mere exercise of His Divine Will overwhelmed His foes? Yes. But the Supreme Incarnation of Love that Lord Jesus was, had willed it that His own life would be an example for people to emulate. Therefore, He behaved like any other human being; and while so doing, fully demonstrated in His own brief but eventful life the Great Sermon that He gave on the Mount.
Both at the very commencement and at the conclusion of the Sermon, He emphatically declares that it is the sacred duty of all those who have had the blessed privilege of hearing the saving Message, to do and to teach the commandments, to others. The Lord wants that your light should "shine before men," not for your own glorification, but in order that "they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." Practise the Sermon on the Mount. Inspire other children of the Lord by precept as well as by example, to practise the glorious teachings it contains. Thus would the supreme mission of Lord Jesus, the mission of saving people from sin, be fulfilled. It is all the more urgent today that the Message of the Lord should spread throughout the world; for, once again mankind is rushing headlong towards destruction, towards unrighteousness, towards hatred and war. Only the Lord's Message can save the world today. The Divine words of the Sermon on the Mount should be engraved on the tablet of the heart of each man and woman today; and then and then alone can mankind know peace and prosperity.
The very first commandment is so thrilling. It is in the Lord's characteristic style of building up a climax. Prior to that day, it was considered unrighteous to kill any being. Killing itself is the grossest manifestation of a feeling that stirs in the heart of man. The Lord wants to save man from this feeling; He suggests therefore a sovereign remedy that would at once cure him of the root cause of the dangerous disease that manifests itself in murder. Anger! Anger is the greatest enemy of man. It destroys intelligence and under its sway man degenerates into something worse than a beast. The Lord exhorts you to get rid of this anger. Even to give verbal vent to this undivine emotion is sin. Do not use abusive words towards anyone: all are children of thy Father. All are your own brothers and sisters. In everyone the Lord dwells. Do not call anyone "a fool." In His divine instruction the Lord goes still farther than that. The dire enemy of man should be driven out of his heart. Not only that, in that heart the opposite virtue, love, should be installed. How beautifully He puts it! If this is not done, your worship of God Who is All-Love, is hypocritical. Therefore, when you approach His altar, if an inimical thought arises in you, better leave the altar. Go to the person with whom you have a misunderstanding or quarrel. Get reconciled to him. Become friendly with him once again; and then worship God.
Try this today. This is not an intellectual doctrine to be understood. It is the word of God to be put into practice. Do it now and see for yourself. What a great joy and peace you experience in your worship and in your meditation, if you have washed away all ill-feelings from your heart with the waters of cosmic love.
When your heart is filled with cosmic love, who can be your enemy? Someone else may entertain inimical feelings towards you; but in your heart the feeling of enmity should never arise. To you, he too, is a brother, to be treated with the same love and consideration that you would have for the best of your friends. Jesus would not leave the least room for misunderstanding; ambiguity is foreign to Him. Instruction cannot be more practical than the way He has given it.
"Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." What a convincing argument He brings in support of this holy commandment! Why should you love your enemies? Not because you are greater than they! But because such is the nature of God in whose image you are made, and whose children youand allare.
Is the atheist denied God's blessings? The very life-breath which the atheist uses in denying the very existence of God, is provided by Him. "He maketh His Sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth the rain on the just and on the unjust." Hatred ceaseth not by hatred; hatred ceaseth by love. Love conquers hatred and enmity. Righteousness conquers unrighteousness eventually. Love transforms the heart of man. There is no better way of winning over an enemy, and of transforming an evil-minded person, than to love him and to let him see in your own daily actions the glory of righteous living.
Love and righteousness should become part of your very nature. They should not be feigned nor artificial. Therefore, when Lord Jesus commanded that you should not resist evil, He alluded to His own instruction that love should become your very nature. It requires extraordinary faith in God, realisation of His Omnipotence, understanding the power of love, and supreme moral courage, not to resist evil, but "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, to turn to him the other also."
By thus not resisting the evil and by demonstrating such love even in the face of evil, you are arousing the latent moral conscience in the evil-minded man. If you had adopted the policy of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," the moral conscience in the other person would be completely buried under the evil example you place before him. But, when a man smites you on your cheek and, instead of getting it back "in the same coin," experiences your love, the righteous way you reacted, he is bound to be profoundly influenced by your example; and he would sooner or later reflect over the incident, repent for his action and regain his moral conscience.
The Law Courts in the world could as well be closed down and people enabled to live in peace and amity, if people practise this rule: "If any man will sue you at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." Does the Lord want you to sit idly and watch yourself being cheated and robbed? No! He wants you to be positively charitable: He wants you to run to the succour of the needy. If he robs you of your coat, because he needs it, better give him your cloak also, so that he would be more comfortable. In reality, along with your cloak, you are giving him the priceless gift of wisdom; he sees in your action the true nature of love, the glory of charity and indifferent attitude of a man-of-God towards the objects of this world. The cloak (the worldly object) is perishable and you are going to part with it one day or the other; but the fruit of the gift, the reward of the charityespecially giving it to the man who would rob you of itis immortality for you and inner transformation for him. It requires not only moral courage and love, but a supreme dispassion for the object of the world, to practise this. And, Lord Jesus significantly asks: "What availeth man, if he gains the world, but loseth the soul?" The loss of all the objects of the world is nothing compared to the acquisition of this one virtue: charity.