Summary: The King begins to explain the new rules that govern God’s Kingdom.
The Laws of the Kingdom Pt. 1: Opposites Attract
Sunday, May 7th, 2006
Well, it’s happened again. I’m finding that there is one thing about preaching that I have come up against several times now that is frustrating to me. You plan and you lay out a series and then you come upon a passage like today’s passage that is essentially a series unto itself and that really needs eight or nine weeks devoted to it and we have one. We’re going to be looking this morning at the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In fact, for the next 5 weeks, we’ll be looking at this sermon, but today, we’re looking at the intro to this sermon known as the beatitudes. They’re found in Matthew chapter 5 verses 1-12.
We’ve skipped ahead a little bit again in the book of Matthew and if you’ve been keeping up with your readings, you know that in the last chapter, Jesus was lead out to the desert by the Holy Spirit, after He had been baptized by John, and once there, he fasted for 40 days. 40 days without food. Most of us can’t imagine missing a meal or two! At the end of that time, when Christ was at His weakest and Scripture tells us that he was hungry, which is understandable, Satan tempts him and tries to get him to bow down to him. Jesus resists the temptation by quoting the Scriptures and Satan leaves him. At the end of the fourth chapter, Jesus begins the work that He has come to do. He calls His disciples, who left everything and followed Him, and then He went throughout Galilee, teaching, preaching, and healing their sick. As you can imagine, word about Him spread quickly. Here was a man from Nazareth who was healing and performing miracles in God’s name and who was teaching with an authority that they had never heard before. People wanted to see this, and we’re told that large crowds from across the region followed Him. This brings us to our passage today.
In the days of old when Kings ruled their countries, every king had a different set of laws that governed his kingdom. Each member of that kingdom was expected to follow the laws of the king. Each kingdom also had different standards by which they judged the greatness of men. For many, a man was judged on a combination of strength, courage, loyalty, and the ability to fight. We’ve all heard the tales of the Knights of the Round Table and Sir Lancelot and the bravery that distinguished him above all others. The return of the King, the coming of Christ and His Kingdom, was no different, this kingdom would also have laws that would govern its people. There would also be standards that set people apart in this kingdom. This, however is where there is a difference. See, the standards of God’s kingdom were all backwards from what men were used to being judged on. In the very beginning of His discourse, we see the difference in this kingdom and what it takes for us to enter into it.
Read Matthew 5:1-12
The beatitudes is really an 8 step plan to spiritual growth. It’s not a set of rules to enter the kingdom, but rather a set of Guidelines for those who have already come in. It’s a process, each step building on the one before it and resulting in tremendous blessing and reward from God as our relationship grows and fellowship with Him deepens each day. Each step begins with the word blessed. Literally translated, it means happy or fortunate. But there’s a much deeper and richer meaning to the word.
Quote: To be blessed isn’t a superficial feeling of well-being based on circumstances, but a deep supernatural experience of contentedness based on the fact that one’s life is right w/ God. MacArthur
It isn’t necessarily monetary blessing or being blessed with a certain position, though God may choose to include that, it’s the blessing of a relationship with God and knowing that you’re living according to His standards. It doesn’t change as your circumstances change because it’s rooted in your relationship with God. It’s what every Christian longs for, but many miss because they want the rewards, but they don’t want to change.
Jesus begins with four internal steps, things that have to happen in here as we begin toward spiritual growth.
I. Internal Steps
a. Poor in Spirit
The first step to growth is being poor in Spirit. Jesus says “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This has nothing to do with how much money you make or the conditions that you live in. The poverty that Christ is referring to is completely different. When we began our Extreme Makeover series, we started in the same place that Christ does here. We talked about all of the changes that need to happen in our lives and the fact that the first step is a broken heart. Literally a heart that is crushed and broken into little pieces over the sin in our lives. Being poor in Spirit is having this broken heart. It’s understanding that apart from Christ we have nothing. There are so many Christians who believe in Christ and what he has done for us but still hold onto that thought that we’re pretty good on our own, that somehow God owed us salvation because of some good that we have in ourselves. The one who is poor in spirit sees himself as he truly is, spiritually bankrupt and in spiritual poverty with no way out on our own.