Summary: This sermon looks at the Beatitudes as a group of challenges Jesus gave the disciples and the crowd in order to deepen their discipleship.
“Blessed are they…” ~ The Beatitudes
(quotes taken from the NKJV unless noted)
Wakelee Church ~ January 30, 2005
Theme: When we are willing to love humanity as God does, then we do things differently in spite of the persecution, knowing that true happiness is our reward.
Introduction – Tread mills, weight machines, and reality!
This past week I had the joy of taking a “health assessment.” Has anyone ever taken one of these? When you start out at a gym or exercise place, they want to get some idea of how healthy or not you are. This way they can set you up with the right work-out/equipment etc.)
Well, instead of skipping mine, as some others have done. I boldly stepped forward and did the deed. And through bicycling, push-ups, flexibility tests, and the like, I found that not only was I not essentially “fit” according to their standards (this is why I joined in the first place), but that I had plenty of areas that quote-unquote “needed work.”
Needless to say, some changes have to be made…Amen? So, at the Buchner home, we’re going to be doing some things differently, hopefully to achieve a blessing once all is said and done.
I believe this is the same kind of idea that Jesus lifted up in this passage, commonly referred to as the Beatitudes.
There were some areas that needed work, that called for a change in how things were done. And once changed, blessing would be the result.
Jesus’ list of eight in this passage stood and still stands in stark contrast to what humanity often seems to value. In our society our beatitudes may read something like this…
Blessed is the man who makes a fortune.
Blessed is he who kisses the boss’ posterior.
Happy is the man who has a palace in the city and a summer home in the mountains and four cars in the garage.
Blessed is he who has won the applause of his pears.
Blessed is the woman who is recognized as a darling in society.
Blessed are those who avoid criticism and worship the status quo, for their reward will be “normalcy.”
The problem here is that the standards that Jesus lifts up are completely the opposite of what is most comfortable and most accepted.
As Jesus was starting to gain in popularity, He took his disciples into the rolling hills of northern Israel by the Sea of Galilee. The crowd followed. Instead of just twelve, Jesus looked over acres and acres of human faces.
They were rich and poor, young and old, varied races and ethnic backgrounds, some were a great success by human standards, others were failures. The crowd represented a cross-section of humanity…the world in miniature.
Yet, as different as they all were, Jesus understood that they were call on the same quest. They were all after the same thing. They wanted something more than what their world offered at the time…Jesus offered blessings.
And I fully believe, that there are some here this morning, if not a majority of us, who want something more…who want to strive for something greater than ourselves. In this passage, Jesus shares with us a greater way.
He shares about the kingdom of heaven and how we can start building that kingdom even in our own midst. This is practical stuff, useful, applicable material. The only difficulty is that we need to get some basics under our belt.
Jesus knew, that when it came to kingdom of God dynamics, especially loving God and loving others, that most people fell into the “needs work” category…Amen?
I – Humanity are people too! (verses 1-2)
The first thing I see in this passage is that Jesus shared the sermon in action before sharing the sermon in words.
If one checks out the semantics of this passage, we can find an interesting story in the first two verses. When I first read the passage, I assumed that it was because Jesus wanted to speak to the crowd that he went up into the mountains, but the Bible never says that.
In fact, if you look at the passage immediately preceding, Jesus was healing a great multitude of people. These people had been following Jesus from Galilee to Decapolis to Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan…Jesus just didn’t automatically realize in 5:1 that they were there…they had always been there.
Jesus saw the multitudes and went up into the mountains by himself. Heresy you claim!!! Look at the text….the NIV shows it the clearest.. “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.”
Once he had done that, THEN, “His disciples came to him…”
Did you see it? Jesus went up on the mountaintop to get away from the crowd. They followed. So Jesus began to teach, what I believe to be one of his best sermons because it came straight from his heart. He showed his love and compassion as he preached about love and compassion.