Summary: Christ gives us a glimpse of the kingdom of God through the Beatitudes.
“Do We See God’s Kingdom?”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
Our Gospel lesson for this morning is frequently referred to as the Beatitudes, and they are all promises of the kingdom of God.
Because to be in the kingdom of God is to be comforted, to inherit the earth, or the promised land, to be satisfied, to obtain mercy, to see God, and to be called God’s sons and daughters.
The Beatitudes are also descriptive…in that they describe those who receive the kingdom of God.
Now, to anyone who does not understand the message of Jesus Christ…and I would imagine that none of us understand His message in it’s completeness…the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ, can, naturally seem kind of foolish.
After all, who willingly wants to be poor, meek, mournful and persecuted?
As much as we all need to be comforted and filled, as much as we all want blessings and mercy, as much as we all yearn to be the precious children of God, we might not be sure that it’s worth the cost. Or is it?
I mean, just what is Jesus getting at here?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
According to John Wesley, “Poverty of Spirit is the foundation of everything.”
Who then are the “poor in spirit”?
They are those who truly understand themselves in the scheme of this life, and in truly understanding themselves they are completely convinced of their sinfulness…
…and their own inability to do anything about it on their own!
This is what all of us need before we can cry out to God: “Have mercy on me, a sinner!”
This is the first step in running the race…of being part of the kingdom of heaven.
Wesley writes: “I speak to all whom God has enabled to become ‘poor in sprit’ and to feel themselves lost.
Through the gracious promise of him ‘who never lies,’ we have a claim to heaven. The blood of the Lamb has purchased our title to heaven for us. Heaven is very near; you are on the brink of heaven!
After only another step, you will enter into the kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy!
Are you full of sin?
‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’
Are you completely without God?
Look to your ‘advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’
Are you unable to atone for the least of your sins?
Christ is ‘the atoning sacrifice for your sins.’
Here and now, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and all your sins will be blotted out!”
When we completely depend on Christ, we learn from Christ to be “humble in heart”…and this is true, genuine Christian humility.
It flows to us from our sense of God’s love which has been shown to us in Jesus Christ.
And in this sense, “the poor in spirit” is what we always are.
Because poverty of spirit is our continual awareness of our total dependence on God for every good thought, word, or deed.
And the more we grow in grace, the more we understand just how fallen we are…and just how great God is!!!
The second beatitude is a startling paradox: “Blessed are those who mourn…”
Jesus knows full well that grief in itself is not blessed…so what, then, is Christ talking about?
Remember your mountaintop experience…when you first accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and were filled with indescribable joy?
I don’t know about you, but I thought all my troubles had suddenly ended.
Never again would I be tempted.
Never again would I sin.
We mourn in our temptation and we mourn in our sin.
We are comforted when we repent, learn to grow more and more into the likeness of Christ, and “press on to know the Lord.”
Those who are living in the kingdom of God also mourn for the sins and the miseries of all creation.
We weep with those who weep.
Yes, blessed are they that voluntarily share their neighbor’s pain.
We could side-step it.
We could pretend that sorrow doesn’t exist…
…but instead, we, like Christ, are to expose ourselves to the misery of others.
We are to visit the home where death has come…
…we are to visit those who are in prison, agonize over the slums, the crack-houses, the baby’s born without a home…
…we are to be the compassionate people of the earth, and to ever grow in our compassion and love.
“Blessed are the meek…”
Who are the meek?
For one thing, meekness is not weakness…no, it is the exact opposite.
It means that we are not proud, harsh, brutal, nor impatient.
It is the way we are to understand ourselves in relation to God and to others.