Summary: This sermon explores the true nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and of the disciple.
All The King’s Men
Matt. 5:1-12 (SOTM #1)
Introduction: Two opposite kingdoms.
The nation of Israel wants to raise their popularity in the world, particularly among 35 and under American men. Some people have decided that the holy relics of Israel do not generally appeal to this group of people, so they decided instead to invite the magazine Maxim to do a photo shoot of scantily clad beautiful Israeli women. So, men, allegedly, will see the magazine and automatically have a higher opinion of Israel. Some protest this approach, insisting that what makes Israel unique is that is the only place where you “can use a Bible as a tour book.” The final words of the article were, “The reality of Israel is often having to choose: go with the girl, or go with God.”
The story presents two vastly different world views. One way is clearly the way of the secular world. The other is God-focused. They represent two different worldviews, two different kingdoms. We only fool ourselves when we attempt to live in both.
The beatitudes of Matt. 5 are about the kingdom of Jesus. They describe a worldview that is completely opposed to the kingdoms of this world. Jesus makes it clear that there is no middle ground (read text). You cannot choose to live in both kingdoms. Either you will embrace his kingdom and its radical call, or you will accept the status quo of the worldly kingdoms. It is important that we understood the beatitudes as more than just pithy abstract statements. What do they mean in our lives? How can we live them out? Are we willing to live them out, if they are too radical? These are the questions we must consider, over and against, the offer of this world’s kingdom.
Move 1: The secular beatitudes.
What would the beatitudes of our world sound like? I’m no poet, but using the same form provided by Matthew, they may sound something like this.
Blessed are those with inexhaustible bank accounts, for theirs are the possessions and choices of the world.
Blessed are those who do not trouble themselves with the world’s problems, for they will need no comfort.
Blessed are those that take whatever they can when they can, for they will be hailed as opportunists.
Blessed are those that never know the cravings of hunger and thirst, for they will always be satisfied.
Blessed are those that do not concern themselves with the problems of others, for they will never be taken advantage of.
Blessed are the manipulators, for they have no need for God to achieve their desired end.
Blessed are the violent and the troublemakers, for they shall use conflict to further their ends.
Blessed are those that are popular and well liked by everyone, for they shall always be protected from insult, humiliation, and harm.
You see instantly how the ways of the world are the complete opposite of the ways of Christ. Maybe some really are fine with a worldview that is all about self, but even then, this kingdom cannot make good on its promises. Living this way leads to misery, because there is no satisfaction that lasts, because you can never be at peace taking advantage of others. For you will always fear being taken advantage of. To always be full of food and drink leads to an early death. To not care for others is not to be cared for.
Satan makes promises he cannot keep. He once told Jesus that he would give him all the kingdoms of the world, if he would only bow down to him. It would’ve been easier than the way of the cross. But Jesus knew the only true joy exists in worshipping and doing the will of his Father alone. This is a might makes right world, survival of the fittest, only the strong survive reality. The problem is that there is always someone stronger than you. There is always someone better at using others and this world to achieve their ends. There is no security. There is no peace. This all begins to make Jesus’ kingdom sound like the more attractive choice, but wait a minute! You need to know what you are getting into when you make that choice.
Move 2: The beatitudes of Jesus.
Everyone is flocking to Jesus. He is healing the sick, casting out demons, and preaching interesting ideas. The crowds are large and Jesus is popular. In the beginning of chpt. 5, there is a subtle but important move that we need to note. Jesus sees the crowd and he climbs one of the Galilean hills. It is not the crowds that climb up after him. It is his disciples (v. 1). Jesus is making a move of separation. Who will climb a little ways to hear my teachings? What follows is directed especially at those that have chosen to follow him, not just get healed.