Summary: Preaching through a series on Jesus’ life, this is a message on the Beatitudes, as a whole. I do not subscribe to the "standard approach" taken by many; perhaps this message will give some different ideas.
The Jesus Series
The Greatest Sermon Ever
Matthew 5:3-12 September 12, 2004
Group Participation Time: would you gather into groups of 6-8 or so and work on a brief assignment for me? You’ll need to elect a secretary to record some stuff here. Please do this quickly; take a brief moment and introduce yourselves to one another. You have one minute. Go.
Take a look at Matthew 5; you’ll find the Beatitudes or the “blesseds” there. Here is the assignment: imagine what the Beatitudes would look like if written by someone other than Jesus, someone from contemporary culture. Let me give you a for instance: what if the Beatitudes were written by Donald Trump? What would his list look like?
Blessed are the cunning.
Blessed are the powerful.
Blessed are the efficient.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after the bottom line.
Got the idea? This exercise needs to take a maximum of 3 minutes.
Section 1: Oprah Winfrey
Section 2: A Hollywood producer
Section 3: Rush Limbaugh
Section 4: A group of 16-year-old American teenagers
When we ask this question, we are talking about what we alluded to last week; Jesus, in the Greatest Sermon Ever, answers the question, “what is the good life?” He sure answers it differently than most people would today in American culture, does he not? Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the pure in heart…those things don’t sound like popular themes, do they? How is it that the good life can be lived by people like this? Stay tuned! Let’s pray.
Let’s take a look at Matthew 5 and the first portion of the greatest sermon ever. We said last week that the approach we take to this sermon will help us greatly in our understanding of it. It does not represent a list of ethical demands that we might satisfy in order to earn entry into Heaven and eternal life. Rather, it is Jesus’ manifesto of His kingdom; as we’ll see in a moment, the first word that Matthew gives as to the subject of Jesus’ preaching involves the simple declaration, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And our key verse is to be found in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus tells us that our stance must be to seek that kingdom first. Today we begin looking in earnest at it. Stand with me as we read together!
Did you recognize the singers as the offering was taken? Here are some of the “blesseds” Paul Simon wrote in 1966:
Blessed are the sat upon, spat upon, ratted on
Blessed are the meth drinkers, pot sellers, illusion dwellers
Blessed are the penny rookers, cheap hookers, groovy lookers
Ready for a revelation? When I preached this a few years ago, I consulted a number of authors and preachers and commentators and built a series of messages, one per Beatitude, around the basic idea that each Beatitude, logically ordered and building successively one upon the next, represented ideals for which we ought to progressively strive as Jesus’ followers. You ready for this? Know what I think now? I think that maybe, just maybe, Paul Simon has got it more correct than some of the commentators! What is Jesus doing in the Beatitudes?