Regardless of our status in life, we are all governed by something or someone. Our parents and teachers, our spouse, the state and federal government; God put all of these institutions in place to provide structure for our lives and prevent anarchy. Whether we agree with them or not, we rely on the rules and authorities that shape our lives.
Jesus began his ministry with the Sermon on the Mount, beginning in Matthew 5:1 and continuing through chapter 6. The purpose of this very practical sermon was to show his disciples that although much would be required of them should they decide to truly be followers, the rewards and blessings would be greater, both here and in the kingdom to come. The kingdom of Heaven has all of the elements of a “kingdom”; including laws (the Levitical laws of the Old Testament and the laws of the new covenant beginning with the beatitudes), subjects (us), and a king (Jesus). When Jesus gives us the beatitudes, he outlines the conditions for a truly happy and blessed life. Each condition is followed by the promise of a specific blessing or reward. They require us to take a hard and honest look at our attitudes toward ourselves, toward our sinful nature, toward the Lord, and toward the world.
Beginning in Matthew 5:2, Jesus addresses our attitude toward ourselves: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” A person who is poor in spirit is humble, and acknowledges his reliance on God. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A humble follower is promised a specific and great reward, the Kingdom of Heaven.
Verses 4-6 address sin: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” A person who mourns over sin (his own sins as well as the sins of the world) will be comforted. In verse 5: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” a meek person is one who has power, but displays self control. We see this in many characters in the bible, from Abraham to Jesus. It is a trait of some of the most godly, wise and powerful people, and they are ready for God to use them. Meekness is gentle and mild, not weak. Meekness waits, and trusts in the Lord.
In verse 6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Are you passionate about seeking God? Are His ways first and foremost in your heart and mind, or do you simply defer to Him when your ways don’t work?
“7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Withholding punishment toward those who deserve it, we can extend mercy because we have received mercy from God.
“8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Only those who truly seek a relationship with Jesus Christ will inherit a place in His kingdom. Those of clear wholehearted focus will one day come face to face with God while hypocrites will not.
“9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Our soul is at peace because we know we have been saved. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to extend this love and peace onto others which identifies us as children of God.
“10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Our godliness and integrity convict the world of our ultimate motive to serve the only one true God. We are called to sufferance in the name of Christ, let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad when we are persecuted, insulted or even stricken as we glorify our king. Great will be our rewards in heaven!
Jesus’ teaching about the behavior required of citizens of his kingdom is both comprehensive, covering everything from personal relationships to daily needs, and intensive, addressing our outward behavior and the internal motivations that drives our behavior.
C.S. Lewis was once criticized for not caring for the Sermon on the Mount. He replied, “As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means ‘liking’ or enjoying, I suppose no one ‘cares for’ it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of a man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure.”
As familiar with the Sermon on the Mount as many Christians are, I now invite you to take a look at the passage with fresh eyes, a renewed mind, and a humble spirit. Let’s pray.
We thank you for forgiving our sins
And for your inspiration in our lives,
We thank you for your all mightiness
And for your strong hand in directing us.
Lord father we ask that you continue to shine your light bright,
Upon those who walk in obedience and those who truly seek you
And help us serve you and lead others to you in this life
So we all can rejoice with you in the next.
God please lay your hand on critical hearts, our friends and families
Enlighten us with your gratefulness Lord
And guide our footsteps each and every day.
God we thank you for all that surrounds us!
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre