MANIFESTO OF THE KINGDOM
Exalted One, I pray for an open mind and a willing spirit, so that I might learn Your truth and share it.
Read MATTHEW 5:1–12
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
We should approach the Sermon on the Mount with a sense of awe. Ask for an open mind and a willing heart.
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the Sermon on the Mount. John Stott describes the wealth of these texts as ‘inexhaustible’ and admits that we ‘cannot plumb their depths’.1 However, two things can be said regarding our approach to the message of Jesus. First, we should remember that Luke records a similar occasion when Jesus ‘stood on a level place’ and pronounced blessings on the poor, hungry and distressed.2 Luke’s account, which is scattered at different points in his Gospel, can shed light on the meaning of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, so that the two reports should really be read side by side.
Second, while we may rightly regard the teaching of Jesus as sublime, this should not lead us to ignore the fact that it is intensely practical. We are not meant merely to admire the language of Christ, but to imbibe the countercultural values He teaches. This message was intended to shape the lives of individual followers and the new community which confessed Jesus as Lord and Messiah. At the conclusion of this section, Jesus Himself warns everyone who hears His words but ‘does not put them into practice’ that they are like foolish builders whose work lacks foundations.3
In the history of Christianity, this sermon has sometimes been quietly ignored, or even willfully misinterpreted, by a church which accepted a peaceful accommodation with the spirit of the world. The test of our obedience to Christ is found in whether or not our belief and practice brings a reaction from the powers ruling this world, in which case the final blessing on those ‘who are persecuted because of righteousness’ (v 10) may take on a far deeper significance than before.
Choose one beatitude, read it slowly, allow the Spirit to show you how this feature of the kingdom can be deepened in your life.
Dear God, I feel somewhat overwhelmed when I consider the challenges of this passage and its teaching. Spirit of God, press in on me with one truth I need to focus on.
1 John Stott, Christian Counter-Culture, IVP, 1978, p30 2 Luke 6:17–49; 11:1–4; 12:22–34 3 see Matt 7:26,27
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