Summary: The first part of eight on the Beattitudes.
The Perfect Standard For Life
The Way Up Is Down – Part 1 of 8
Reading: Matthew 5v1-3
Jesus’ sermon on the mount is so powerful that we can hardly overstate it’s influence in lives of so many people.
It is simply the greatest sermon ever preached, because it came from the very lips of Jesus Christ Himself.
These words have no expiry date on it and it has an eternal shelf life.
In fact, the sermon on the mount is Jesus actually stating what God originally meant through the Ten Commandments.
Jesus said in Matthew 5v17, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come—it isn’t to cancel the laws of Moses and the warnings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them and to make them all come true.” (LB)
However, many people had added hundreds of laws to the Ten Commandment, but Jesus now gets up and tells us what God His Father actually wanted to communicate through the Ten Commandments.
The only commandment Jesus does not speak about is the Sabbath.
But as we go through this sermon, I want you to let it X-ray your heart to see whether you are truly a believer in Christ, and if you are, to what degree of genuineness you are living your life.
My dream is that all our hearts and lives will be penetrated with this truth of God and take us away from the sham lives we live.
…and so we will begin with the Beatitudes, because they will show us what character we ought to have as children of God.
Now, the first four beatitudes focus on our relationship with God, and the second four focus on our relationships one with the other as human beings.
…and each of the eight builds upon the other so that there is a progression as we go along.
So I want you to come next week and the week after, because if you miss out on just one, you will miss the point Jesus is trying to make through all the beatitudes.
…and so as we begin our journey through the sermon on the mount we must first understand the setting.
Jesus has been traveling around Galilee teaching in the synagogues and people are coming to Him in droves for healing.
Great numbers of people were following Him into the wilderness beyond the Jordan river, and then we come to verses 1 and 2, “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…” (NIV).
Many years ago now there was a very infamous criminal by the name of Mickey Cohen.
Some people then began to have the idea, if only Mickey Cohen would become a Christian, he would be able to influence many other people in becoming Christians as well.
As result, many prominent Christians began visiting Mickey Cohen in an effort to convince him to become a Christian.
Well, to story goes that late one night after repeatedly encouraging him to open the door of his life to Christ, Mickey Cohen prayed.
Hopes ran high amongst the Christian people, but as time passed no-one saw any change in the lifestyle of Mickey Cohen.
Finally the Christian people confronted him about this matter, and this is what he said,
“I thought I could be a Christian gangster”.
…and I think what that story illustrates to us is what’s happening to many so-called Christians today as well.
In other words, “What good is it if you’re tithing or fasting and obeying all the outward rules and regulations if your heart is still proud and critical and condemning other people?”
You see, though these kind of people may have accepted Christ, they continue to live life as they’ve always lived it, - there is no change whatsoever in their heart, because this is a heart matter.
In other words, you don’t have to murder someone to be a sinner, you only have to hate them to be a sinner. (Matt5v21-26).
The problem is there has been no repentance over their sins and in fact, they are no-where near the Kingdom of God, because they have not experienced a poverty of spirit that this first Beatitude insists is the initial ground of the kingdom of heaven.
In other words,…if you have not come this way,…then you need to expose yourself to the logic of this life-giving Beatitude.
So let’s get into this Beatitude.
First of all, this verse opens with the words, “blessed”.
Now I want us to understand this very clearly, because it will open up our understanding to these verses.
Contrary to popular opinion, the word “blessed” here does not mean “happy”.
Happiness is a feeling and Jesus is not talking about how people feel.