Summary: Part 1 - At the heart of following Jesus is a commitment to trust and obey him as we live differently - "Upside Down" - from the world.
THE POINT: Jesus understands your heart and offers himself so that it may be transformed
Bandwagon story…OU SOONERS
We often jump on the bandwagon and follow the crowd…but when push comes to shove and real commitment or real cost is involved we tend to back away. Jumping on the bandwagon is easy, until we get down to the heart of the matter.
When we discover that what we’re following is going to cost us, or require sacrifice, or be painful and difficult or involve commitment, we often tend to jump back off of the bandwagon. The heart of the matter can change our minds/
The people who followed Jesus were no different…he had a lot of bandwagon followers. They saw the miracles, they heard the preaching, they were excited about the prospect of the Messiah being present…but they never really stopped to consider what it would mean to be a true follower of this man who made such astounding claims.
Early on in his ministry, Jesus knew that there would be all kinds of people attracted to him, not because of his radical call to live a life of sacrifice, surrender and holiness, but because he was new and different or because he performed miracles and fed them when they were hungry.
So, early in his ministry Jesus begins to teach some of the hard teachings of the Gospel. He begins to reveal to the crowds just exactly who it is that will be able to follow him and what it will cost. And his teaching was different. His whole way of life was upside down.
What the world had always taught was up, Jesus reveals to be down. What the world had thought would make a man happy, Jesus revealed would enslave him. And what the world thought was bad or painful or difficult, Jesus teaches are the very things that prepare us for life in the Kingdom and the very things that allow God to bless us.
The fact is, when compared to conventional wisdom, the way of God is UPSIDE DOWN. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals the UPSIDE DOWN WAY OF GOD. And he doesn’t build up to it…He jumps right in.
He explains what it is that creates true happiness…and why. And it is completely upside down from what we would think.
Let’s look at what Jesus says and then over the next 8 weeks we’re going to dissect this passage of scripture to find out just who it is, in God’s kingdom, that is truly blessed.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
Let me interrupt myself here…This is what I’ve been talking about…This large crowd saw Jesus healing people, casting out demons, working miracles and they heard him preaching this new and exciting message that the Kingdom of Heaven was near. And, as a result, many of them began to follow him.
He was new
He was different
He was novel
He was intriguing
He was entertaining
So they followed but most, if not all, did not fully grasp what it meant to follow Jesus…. Jesus proceeds to reveal what it will mean to truly be called by his name and follow him. And for the next three chapters, Matthew 5-7 we have what is called the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew has collected Jesus teachings to those who would follow him. This sermon covers Jesus’ teachings on suffering, on marriage & divorce, on prayer on social justice, being an influence in our world, on murder, hatred, adultery etc… This is powerful, earth shattering stuff. We’ve become so familiar with the text that it doesn’t shock us like it did the first people to hear it…but we have here the teachings of Jesus…the God of the Bible…the God that we worship…
For the next two months we are going to dive in and study just the introductory verses of this sermon. We’re going to study the “Beatitudes.” These are a group of sayings where Jesus teaches us who it is that is truly blessed.
It’s all a part of him revealing the gospel – the message of good news – to his followers.
So Jesus sees this large crowd and…
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,