I have been thinking I would like at least a small record of the lessons I teach so that if I ever have to do it again, I can reference them. It is not inconceivable that I will because people have a tendency to stay in callings for a very long time in our ward. The current YM president has been there for 7 years. That is enough time to see a new deacon to his mission. The fact we have 7 missionaries out from a small ward tells you what an incredible man he is.
So these were the chapters I had last week. At first glance this was really intimidating. The Sermon on the Mount is only the best known section of scripture ever. I felt that you could take any ten verses at random from the reading and talk for the whole hour. So the dilemma was, do I just concentrate, or spread things out? I took the spread things out route, mostly because the last two times I taught I left some big verses out and someone brought it up later; "Well, I was wondering why you didn't mention that, but I liked your lesson."
As I read it through I felt like the Lord was giving a lesson in contrasts. Almost every statement in these chapters has a not that, but this sort of statement. So I handed out little cards in yellow and orange with the matching scriptures. It would have worked better if we had had more than 15 people in class that day. The goal was to have everyone match up the two parts and then tell the class what the lower law vs. the higher law was. It didn't work because everyone had to have more than one scripture card. So we just read through them. I'm not going to go through it because a. I don't have my scriptures near the computer, b. it was 17 different points and would be boring and c. I'm lazy.
But when you divide it up you can see how the new higher law is a law of mental and spiritual work, not just the physical motions of the Mosaic Law. Now you have to think kindly of your fellow man and do good to all people, not just refrain from killing or committing fornication with them and be nice only to those who are your neighbors and your tribe. So we talked about the shift and the importance of a fulfilled lower law and a new higher law that demanded a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
After that we went back to the Beatitudes and talked about how these were a template of Jesus's character. They were also a guide to how we become able to live the higher law. When you follow the commandments of the Beatitudes, you receive the Holy Ghost and are able to control your mind and actions better.
I had read the Bible version and compared it to the Book of Mormon version (something I wholeheartedly recommend anyone do, it only takes a few minutes). It struck me that the main differences were the two verses beginning it in the BoM, which say blessed are they who believe my words and are baptised for they shall receive the Holy Ghost, and the word all, which is left out of three or four of the verses in the Bible. When you are baptised and receive the Holy Ghost, you are empowered to continue on that path to being perfect, as Jesus and Heavenly Father are perfect. Without the Holy Ghost how can you even have a chance at it?
When I teach these lessons I can always feel my mind expanding as I understand things I never thought of before. This time I felt the urgency of baptism. That the gift of the Holy Ghost is how we are able to be obedient enough to receive God's blessings more abundantly. Those without it can be obedient and receive blessings, but not to perfection and it is much harder. One brother in the class pointed out that even with the Holy Ghost perfection is probably going to be a matter of eons for most of us, which is why it is nice that eternity is so long.
And I also began to feel how the Higher Law opened vistas for the Jews, and for us if we follow it. No longer are we only required to look righteous and care for those we already associate with and who care for us. Now our responsibility is to really BE righteous and care for everyone we possibly can. It is pretty difficult for those of us with a two thousand year old cultural tradition of these rules. It must have seemed ludicrous to the insular Jews, that anyone would behave that way, much less expect others to follow. And I know that living the higher law does bring blessings, of the spirit and the increased ability to go forward. Christ wants us to succeed. He didn't say "Be ye perfect" so we could despair and give up. He said that and then gave us instructions and help so we knew we could do it, someday.