Text: Matthew 5:1-10
Picture a sumo wrestler…an aging rock star…a mad professor…a spiritual person. What did you see? Mother Teresa? A Buddhist monk? The Archbishop of Canterbury? Yourself?
Here is a description of a Christian disciple.
It all begins, not with a set of instructions, but with a pronouncement of blessing. There are people who might be considered unfortunate, pitiable even. But they live under God’s favour. They are the luckiest people in the world.
Does this describe me?
- Do I lean on God? “Stand on your own two feet.” But even Jesus confessed, ‘By myself I can do nothing.’ He declares, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
- Are his griefs my griefs? Some say, ‘happy are those who make light of everything.’ But Jesus, who wept at the tomb of his friend, and was heartbroken over the wasted opportunities of Jerusalem, says, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’
- Do I put your needs before mine? “Stick up for yourself!” But Jesus, declared, “I am gentle and humble in heart,” and says, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’
- Do I long to see wrongs put back to rights? “Pleasure, leisure and treasure are to be desired above all else.” But Jesus, who said, “It is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness,” says, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.’
- How do I treat people who don’t deserve my kindness? “At all costs, get even.” But Jesus, who prayed for the forgiveness of his murderers, says, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.’
- What am I really like, when I stop pretending? “Think, feel and act as you like – just make sure you don’t get caught!” But the One whom even demons recognised as ‘the Holy One of God’, says, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’
- Am I a peacemaker, or a troublemaker? “Let’s fight over this!” But the Prince of Peace, says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’
- What have I suffered (so far) for God’s kingdom? “Keep your head down!” But Jesus, who died that we might live, says, ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’
A few further words of explanation and application:-
- This is dynamite. “I just live by the Sermon on the Mount”. “Not for this age.” Hitchens called the idea of non-resistance to evil ‘wicked’, and the command to love our enemies ‘deranged’.
- No ‘oughtism’ here. Jesus does not say, ‘You ought to do this and you ought to do that.’ These are the by-products of something else: a living relationship with God in Christ. Having accepted his free offer of life, we learn day by day to love what he loves and desire what he desires.
- Yes, God does want you to be happy! ’The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the ocean.’ (Jonathan Edwards)