Each week the preaching team benefits from a number of pastoral and scholarly resources as we prepare our sermons for our respective Neighbourhood Churches. We thought we would share some of these resources with you in an effort to support you as you seek to grow in knowledge of the Sermon and your love for the one who is preaching it. The resources below represent a wide spectrum of reading levels, so hopefully there is something here for wherever you’re at in your walk with Jesus.
Brandt Van Roekel:
One of the more helpful—but definitely more challenging—books on the Sermon on the Mount is Jonathan Pennington’sThe Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary. Jonathan Pennington is a professor of New Testament and Sermon on the Mount scholar. He’s a bit of a Sermon on the Mount ‘nerd,’ but his passion for the history of its interpretation, and his desire for our modern audience to hear from Jesus, as the first century crowds would have heard him, shines through brilliantly. It’s a rich and theological book, and if read carefully, will pay out dividends far beyond the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a bit of a personal book for me too, since Jonathan Pennington was one of my favorite, and most influential professors. He challenged me while I was at seminary, and challenges me now, to seriously listen to Jesus’ invitation to give ourselves to a whole-hearted, and love saturated obedience to God. Only there will we find life that is truly life!
My top recommendation is Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. In 1993, just after I became a Christian, I asked someone at church for some book recommendations. They pointed to an older man and suggested that he’d be the best person to ask. When I asked the older man for a few good titles, he said that I should read his book, Knowing God and Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Although both books are very good, Lloyd-Jones’ Studies had a huge impact on my faith. In fact, I went to Regent bookstore and bought twenty copies to give away. One of the people I gave a copy to was a beautiful redhead I had met at church. As she read the book, the Holy Spirit showed her that was not a true Christian. She went to church and read her Bible and prayed but she discovered by reading Lloyd-Jones that she was trusting in herself rather than trusting in Jesus. Seeing her need brought about genuine repentance and faith. Shortly after that, we got married.
Johnson, a local pastor and professor, has a way of taking complex ideas and Biblical truths and making them accessible to a wide range of listeners. I first came across his book on the Beatitudes while I was preparing a youth series, and it has proven helpful these past weeks as I try to answer the “so what?” of these nine “Blessed are” statements. His book on the Lord’s Prayer is also another of these resources aimed at the non-seminarian. With it, he seeks to show how the entirety of the Christian faith is found in these “fifty seven words”, and acts as an invitation to fellowship with the Triune God.
If I was limited to choose one commentator, and one only, that I could have a resource to me for preaching for the rest of my life, it would be John Stott. He is consistently faithful to the text, to the point, full of God-honouring wisdom, and sensitive to the world around him (albeit a different generation than our own, as he went to be with the Lord in 2011). He is succinct without being clichéd, and deep without being obscure, and he is focused on practically applying the text of Scripture to his readers. This book would prove to you to be a wonderfully rich devotional companion for the entirely of our series in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.