The whole of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chs. 5-7) is par excellence in Jesus’ teaching on what it means to live in accordance with the kingdom rule of God. It is, by far, one of the most challenging sections of Scripture. But a true disciple of the kingdom and the King will desire to see these things become a reality in their life. Of course, this isn’t about earning the love, grace and favour of God. But those who have stepped into His grace, love and favour will long to walk in these things. As one author stated about the Sermon on the Mount:
‘But as we approach the sermon it is not with a bludgeon hanging over our heads, but with a beckoning, a divine beckoning, an offer to us to partake in the most wonderful life imaginable, beyond our fondest dreams.
Since the sermon is a revelation of the character and conduct of the most beautiful character who ever lived, it means nothing less than that we are being invited – being offered the opportunity of being made into that likeness. So we come to it not with the tense whipping-up of the will, but with the eager surrender of the will.’ (E. Stanley Jones, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, p150)
This past Sunday, while also giving introductions to Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes as a whole, we specifically took time to look at the first beatitude: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Or as a few other translations give it:
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (NLT)
Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! (The Amplified)
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (The Message)
I am looking forward to diving deeper into these most challenging words from Jesus Himself. Yes, to learn a little. But, more importantly, to be changed and stirred to live in accordance with these words.