With dust on His feet and tattered sandals from walking town to town, Jesus, went up on the mountain and took a seat upon the ground. His disciples came to Him. Jesus had been teaching throughout the land of Galilee. He healed the sick, forgave sins, and loved the outcasts. But, this day would be different. This day, He would speak a message that would impact the hearers forever.
The Sermon on the Mount, as it is called, would prove to be the teaching His disciples would need to continue Jesus’ ministry when He was no longer on this Earth. Powerful — yes. True — yes. Difficult — oh yes. His main idea: walk this way.
Maryann shared this last week, “The Kingdom of God is not what we think in our finite, limited and conditioned minds. It’s not just some far away destiny we’ll inhabit when we pass from this world to the next. The Kingdom of God — or Kingdom of Heaven – is something we can experience in the here and now – right here in the earth – today! It’s the righteousness of God, the peace that surpasses all understanding, and the joy of the Lord!”
Just as the Kingdom is not what WE think, Jesus was about to raise the bar on all the disciples had been previously taught! Everything they were told by the religious leaders would now be challenged in a deep and personal way. All the while, those religious leaders were in earshot of the words Jesus was speaking. Yet, He did not waiver, nor stutter, as He spoke. His message was pure, true, honorable, just, and worthy of praise. Today we examine a small portion of His sermon so we can peek even deeper into The Kingdom of Heaven.
As you read Matthew 5:3, take a few moments to reflect on your personal relationship with Jesus:
And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”
One sentence packed with significant meaning. You may be familiar with the first twelve verses of this Sermon — called the Beatitudes. Jesus is very precise in the order in which He presents these statements. We need to be aware of the importance in understanding that the Beatitudes are not a list of “how” we become Christ followers. They, in reality, are how Christ followers will live if we are truly living for Jesus.
What does it look like to be poor in spirit in real life? I think we are able to understand the idea of being poor, in that, we wouldn’t have much. But “poor in spirit” has a different meaning. It means we realize what we lack, not physically, but spiritually. We know we are sinful, with no ability of our own to deliver ourselves from that life.
What do we actually bring to the table? We don’t have hands full of what it takes to be a Christ follower. We aren’t equipped to live as Jesus lived without His intervention. In a sense, without our surrender to the Lord and our willingness to obey His way, we have nothing to offer His Kingdom. When we accept this to be true, we can humbly receive the saving grace of God. This grace, is what we need to be saved from an eternity in enemy territory.
Do our lives reflect our poverty before God? Do we recognize that even with our gifts and talents we will never experience the Kingdom of Heaven without knowing and believing upon Jesus?
He has laid out “who” is blessed in verses 3-10: the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for His sake. And then Jesus sums up the Beatitudes with verses 11 and 12:
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus makes it very clear what should be taught, how it should be taught and what will happen if we do not teach how He instructed. Not a word of scripture can be changed, relaxed, or altered — otherwise, it isn’t the Word of God.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The scribes and Pharisees were full of themselves. Their pride kept them from receiving their long awaited Messiah. The thought of missing out on the spotlight because Jesus was in town angered them to the point of crucifying Christ.
As we seek to love God with all our heart, our mind, our soul and our strength, may we live a life that obeys truth, loves well, and always points to Jesus.
Our righteousness, our ability to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, is a reward for accepting Jesus for who He is and letting go of our own way to walk His way.
Holding Fast to Hope,