Summary: Part 7 of 8 of a Lenten series on Jesus with this message dealing with Jesus’ vision for the world and our lives, a better vision than we can imagine.
JESUS CAST A VISION OF A BETTER KINGDOM
Sunday, April 14, 2002
TEXT: Matthew 4:23-5:12
We’ve have been doing a series during this Lenten season leading up to Easter which climaxed on Easter Sunday on celebrating Jesus. As I looked at the series, I realized we didn’t have enough time to complete it, so I removed Lesson 6 and we are now going to back up today and complete this lesson.
There is still one more vital quality in the life of Jesus that really is attractive, and that has to do with his vision for our lives. What is your vision for your life? How do you see the world? Are you optimistic about the future, or are you pessimistic? What expectations do you hold about the world and about your future, and what is the prognosis for your life? Have you thought about that? How we see the world and what we expect from the future will guide and direct how we will act and behave today.
For instance, as you know I have been telling my story in the Messenger. I told you that at one point in my life my understanding was that there was no God, that when you die, that’s the end. On a yearly basis I would go into deep depression for about a month because of this. Every once in a while the vast meaninglessness of life would hit me. When I was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was that I had less than three years to live, with the other perspective of life that there is no God and there is no future, it made my life very bleak.
The problem, however, was not with life itself or with God, but with my vision of life and of God. You may have noticed that I am not a depressive person anymore. The reason for that is because I have discovered a better vision for my life, and I would like to share it with you.
If your expectation for the future and your understanding of the way the world is going is causing you despair, trouble or fear, I invite you to become captivated with a different vision for life now and for the future. It is a vision we see in the Beatitudes starting with Matthew 4:23.
If you are concerned about the events in the Middle East and wonder what the future will hold, if you are concerned about your children and the world around them and how they will make it, if you are concerned about the schools and the government, your community or your neighborhood, if your mortality gives you fits at times–again, I invite you to catch a new vision that Jesus offers us about our future and about our life now.
The first thing I see in the Beatitudes is that Jesus reveals God’s vision for the future, and you see that because he uses future terms such as “you will,” “I will,”“they will.” The best way to look at the Beatitudes first and foremost is that it is a statement about the future. It is a wonderful vision of what God wants to do in our lives. “Blessed are the poor in spirit”–those who are utterly dependent on God. What will he do for them? He will give them the kingdom. God is willing to turn over heaven and all its resources for us.
“Blessed are those who mourn”–those who mourn over their sinfulness and over their losses as well. They will be comforted. God promises he will comfort us. Isn’t that good news? We don’t have to despair.
“Blessed are the meek”–those who don’t have to be number one. Because they are servants, they will inherit the earth. God will provide for everything we need. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. We don’t need to grab everything in this life because one day we are going to own it all. What a wonderful future we have!
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.” If you feel empty inside, God’s going to fill you and satisfy you.
“Blessed are those who are merciful.” If you forgive others and are gracious and patient with them, one day God will forgive us and not hold our sins against us. That’s good news!
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” Do you see yourself as a child of God? What a wonderful vision for who we are.
“Blessed are the persecuted”–those who are doing what’s right and being ridiculed for it. Theirs is heaven itself. I think there is no greater promise than heaven itself. Again, I remember those bleak days when I really believed there was nothing else to life and that death was simply a black hole–that I don’t know that I don’t know... What a horrible thought that is. Then I had this vision of Jesus where he said, “No. I’ll resurrect you and offer you eternal life. I will offer you the best that you can possibly imagine–utopia itself.” Man, that sounded good to me at that moment and I grabbed hold of that vision and accepted what God had promised.