I decided to memorise the Sermon on the Mount in April 2016. It took me about six months to learn all three chapters – Matthew 5, 6 and 7. My reasons for choosing this lengthy passage were largely around reading a verse in John – John 14:23,
If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.
If we don’t know his words, how can we obey him? After all didn’t Jesus himself say in Matthew 5,
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished
Of course, there are many ways of interpreting this last saying. Some would say that only Christians can keep the Law anyway, and that through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who works through us to make us “holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1). Irrespective of the correct interpretation, there is no doubt that we really do need to know the commands of Christ in order to be able to follow him properly.
As I began to memorise the Sermon on the Mount, a verse a day, so I began to really understand more about what Jesus’s priorities are. We are to be judged according to how we judge others. We are to turn the other cheek, to not resist people who wish to do us harm, to depend on God for daily provision, above all to trust Him.
I complete the Sermon on the Mount in October and then spent a month consolidating it while brushing up on other earlier memorised passages. I now feel its pretty secure in my memory banks and its lovely when embarking on a walk or a solitary car journey to recite the whole Sermon to myself – it takes about 20 minutes in total.