Summary: First of the Eight Milestones on the Journey of the Fruitful Followers.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We all know that Albert Einstein is perhaps the most intelligent human being who ever lived. Once he boarded a train in Princeton bound for Boston. The train’s conductor came and asked the Einstein to show him his train ticket. Einstein looked all over his pockets and briefcase, but couldn’t find his ticket. The conductor said, "Don’t worry Dr. Einstein. Everyone knows who you are and I am sure you have a ticket. Just enjoy your journey".
The conductor moved on to check other passengers’ ticket and after awhile he turned around and found Einstein still keeping searching all over for his ticket. Later, seeing Einstein on his knees looking under his seats, the conductor came back and tapped on his shoulder and said, “Dr. Einstein, I am confident that you do have a ticket. Please stop searching and take your seat and enjoy the trip. Everyone knows who you are.” Einstein said, “Thanks, and I also know who I am, but I just don’t know where I am going.”
I have a spiritual question for you this morning. Do you know where you are going? Every person on this earth is on a journey, but do you know where you are heading? In the Alice in the Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat told Alice that “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” We can’t get to the end of the road and discover that we are the wrong path. Dr. Stephen R. Covey used a ladder as an analogy; he described that some people climb to the top of the ladder of life and found out that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
Thomas, the disciple, didn’t know where he was going, so he asked, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Jesus came on earth to show us the way. He said that he is the way, and he wants us to follow him. The question is where is he leading us to? It will be nice to know the destination.
Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 that our destination is “the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” He wants us to make the kingdom of God and his righteousness our first priority in life.
If our destination is the kingdom of God, there are two questions:
What is the kingdom of God?
How do we get there?
What is the kingdom of God?
The Gospel of Matthew uses, “kingdom of heaven,” while Luke and Mark use “kingdom of God.” They all mean the same thing. In the Jewish culture, just like Chinese culture, you are not supposed to use the term God lest it might evoke or offend God. So they use the word heaven to represent God. But when the early Christians talked the non-Jews “the kingdom of God” makes it more intelligible. So the two terms were used interchangeably.
Now, in a traditional sense, the kingdom of God is the future consummation of God’s salvation of the world through Jesus Christ, but there is another aspect of the kingdom of God in Jesus teachings that is untraditional, that is the present manifestation of the future kingdom of God. That means we can experience the future now. It make sense in three ways:
First, this should not be difficult to grasp, if you understand that the kingdom of God is not limited by time and space. So what is future can also be now.
Second, the future kingdom of God has come into human history in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus talked about this explicitly in Matthew 12:28, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Jesus did cast out demons by the Spirit of God, so what he is saying is that the kingdom of God has already come to us.
Third, this is the aspect of the kingdom we are focusing on this morning, that the kingdom of God is gift from God and blessing that we can experience it now. The future kingdom of God is given to you as a blessing today when you live a fruitful life.