The Sermon on the Mount – Part 1
The Upside-Down Kingdom
May 26, 2019
Rev. L. Kent Blanton
- Story of Victor Yushchenko &Natalia Dmitruk in presidential election and Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004
- Phillip Yancy says that Jesus tells us from the small corner screen on the big screen of our culture that it’s values, priorities, and practices are a lie and tells us the truth
- Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God
- The Kingdom of God has the power to revolutionize hearts
- As individuals embrace this revolution of the heart, they become like a city on a hill – a city that shines brightly piercing the darkness and revealing a true likeness of God for the world to see.
- Where do we find out what life in God’s kingdom is like?
- Where do find out how to follow Jesus?
- Where do we find out what it means to be a city on a hill?
- For the early church, the book of Matthew was their primary manual for discipleship. Why? Matthew contains more of Jesus’ teachings than any other book of the Bible. Many of those teachings focus on the kingdom of God. In fact, Mathew contains five sermons of Jesus that identify what kingdom life is like.
Background of Sermon on the Mount (SM)
- Matthew chapters 5-7
- SM provides practical instruction for his disciples about how to live life on this earth in the light of the radical truth that the kingdom of heaven has arrived.
- Delivered on a mountainside in Galilee early in his ministry, likely, on a ridge just west of, and overlooking, Tabghah, a village on the Sea of Galilee about 3 kilometers from Capernaum.
Beatitudes – Matt 5:3-12
- Greek word makarios translated blessed means “oh how happy”; “how fortunate” or “it will go well with”
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
- those who recognize their need for God, who are not proud, who recognize they are not self-sufficient.
- Isaiah’s vision and recognition of his own spiritual inadequacy (Is 6:5-7)
- Peter and Paul’s interactions with Jesus (Luke 5:8; 1 Tim 1:15)
- Psalm 51:7 – a broken and humbled heart
- Materially poor often more predisposed to being poor in spirit; less prone to self-sufficiency
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted
- Natural outcome of awareness of need for God is to mourn
- Echoes of Isaiah 61 – Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted and comfort those who mourn
- Kingdom citizens mourn what God mourns: personal sin, social evil, oppression, and persecution
- One day all mourning will cease (Rev 21:4)
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
- Not weakness – look at Jesus. He confronted religious leaders and his disciples
- Meekness is gentleness. It’s the opposite of the domineering, aggressive, harsh, and tyrannical spirit of our world
- The meek will inherit the earth – allusion to Ps 37:11
- Reigning with Christ when he returns – 2 Tim 2:12
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled
- Longings for justice for the poor, exploited, and marginalized
- Longings for restored relationship
- Longings for ethical living and forsaking of sin
- Longings for fulfillment of God’s promised salvation upon earth
- They will be filled . . . both now in a relationship with Jesus (e.g. Samaritan woman) and when Jesus returns
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy
- Mercy is one of God’s most fundamental attributes – Ex 34:6
- Mercy is foundation within the Kingdom of heaven and prominent throughout the SM
- World says, “You made your own bed: you can lie in it!” God says, “You made your own bed” I’ll rescue you from it!”
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God
- Purity speaks of inner cleansing, but even more of single-hearted devotion to God
- Most important purity is purity of the heart; inner purity produces external purity
- Single-mindedness toward God allows us to “see” God, both in eternity (Rev 22:4), but also now in the person of his Son, Jesus (Emmanuel, God with us)
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God
- Theme of peace (shalom) permeates the Bible – suggests wholeness and completeness
- World advocates aggressiveness and competition to be successful
- Kingdom citizens experience transformed hearts by encountering the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6-7). Jesus alone brings peace between God and humanity and human to human (Eph 2:11-17; Col 1:20)
- Peacemakers receive the ultimate reward – becoming a son or daughter of God and becoming God’s heir along with Jesus (Rom 8:17)
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
- Brings comfort to those who have suffered undeserved persecution for doing what is right
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- Most scholars see this statement as an amplification of preceding Beatitude, rather than a new one
- Greek verb tense indicates this statement is specifically directed at Jesus disciples and not the crowd (“those” and “theirs,” v.10; “you” and “because of me” (v. 11), “your“ (v. 12)
- Jesus will be persecuted; so will his followers
- We don’t yet live in peace and safety as kingdom citizens
- Our reward comes in heaven
- Are the Beatitudes entrance requirements for kingdom life? No. Else Jesus would be sanctioning torture or martyrdom as ways to eternal life. The only way you can enter the Kingdom of God is to recognize you are a sinner separated from God. You must choose to believe Jesus died for your sins on the cross and rose up from the dead to give you life.
- Are the Beatitudes ethical demands for personal behavior? Are they an ideal Christians are supposed to aspire to? They are not. If they were, Jesus would be implying that we should seek out persecution to receive a blessing.
- The Beatitudes are a description of the kind of qualities produced in disciples who are embracing kingdom rule in their lives. They are the qualities of kingdom life that are increasingly found in hearts being transformed by the upside-down kingdom of Heaven. They are the qualities of life that emanate from a city on a hill.
- Have you become a kingdom citizen? Have you submitted control of your life to the King of Kings, Jesus Christ? If not, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is here. Turn from the direction you’re headed and believe the good news!”
- For those who have chosen kingdom citizenship, are you continuing to walk in submission to the King? Are the qualities of the kingdom described in the Beatitudes increasing in your life? Is your life shining brightly like a city on a hill? If not, it can, as you resubmit yourself to the desires and will of the King. Will you do that today?