Over the Mountains of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadows.
Ride, boldly ride, the shade replied,
If you seek for Eldorado.
These verses by Poe sum up how I feel about the Sermon on the Mount. As in the much praised sermon, they are a lesson in futility. The big difference in the two sets of words is that Poe's poem reveals this futility, while the Sermon conceals it.
I grew up being taught that these word's of Jesus were to be our rule of life. Only one trouble, and it is a big one. No one has ever kept these words except Jesus Himself. As a rule of life they are a mockery. It would be like buying some sort of a puzzle so difficult that no one has ever solved it.
"But we must try," are the words you always hear. I am going to say something terrible, horrible, and shocking. What kind of rule of life is it that no one can keep?
There, I said it. "So you have something better, something practical?" one may ask. My answer would be, "Absolutely!"
I have a way of life that I keep, and millions also do. It is not a system of perfect living that no one can follow. It is to confess that I am a helpless sinner in total need of mercy. Since I need to be perfect to enter heaven, someone must confer this righteousness on me. This is what Jesus has done for all forgiven people. Amen.
How I despise the works-righteous that many proclaim. As if they can follow this path of good works and find redemption. There is no shed blood in the sermon. No way to be born without sin and to live without sin. Their is no "E for effort" in salvation.
Like the man trying to leap the chasm and screaming, "I almost made it." The old joke about the parachute that fails to open says, "Better luck next time."
So why was this "highest form of morality" given? To reveal what real goodness is and to show that through human effort it is as unattainable as Poe's Eldorado.