*The counter-numerologist in me, I think it is cool that we should wrap things up with the thirteenth reflection.
The Sermon on the Mount concludes with three points: living in accordance with the Way is restrictive, living in accordance with the Way it will be obvious from results, and living in accordance with the Way will help you survive troubling times.
First, the narrow way.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.This could easily relate only to conduct. Take food & drink in moderation. Just have normal sexual relations. Work hard, but not to the exclusion of having family. Worship God. But we know from the rest of the sermon that this also refers to our hearts. It is easy to hateful, but we are not to be so. It is easy to be lustful, but we are not to be so. I submit that we can learn to be hateful or forgiving. While at any one minute, we cannot control our mood, in evolving as human beings we can. Agree?
Next, judged by our fruits.
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.I take this as duel purpose advice. We should check ourselves. Are we getting what we seek? Is our faith bearing fruits, such as happiness and fulfillment? If not, we should change. Likewise, it tells us how to evaluate others. It says that the work of the faithful should be verifiable. It is not enough to say, we're doing this because God says so. We have to be able to say, we're doing this for X and look, here's X.
Finally, our faith is a foundation.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."This is something I have found to be true. In times of trouble, my faith has given me comfort. My church family has done so. Though my faith cannot stop the rain from coming or the stream from rising or the winds from blowing, it can brace me against the storm. I certainly do not think Christianity is the only faith that allows this. Indeed, I suspect that it is not even limited to spirituality. But I know, that my Christianity helps me.
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.So the speaker had good command of his subject matter and was able to hold their attention. I wonder if he made good use of visual aids? ;)