Summary: A Sermon for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany Series A The Sermon on the Mount
4th Sunday after the Epiphany
1 Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them:
3 "Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! 4 "Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them! 5 "Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised! 6 "Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully! 7 "Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! 8 "Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God! 9 "Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children! 10 "Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! 11 "Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.
1One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them. Good News Translation
2This is what he taught them:
3 "God blesses those who realize their need for him,[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are gentle and lowly,
for the whole earth will belong to them.
6 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for they will receive it in full.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11"God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.
12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.
And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too. New Living Translation
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the great teacher. Amen
I have included two different translations for our gospel lesson this morning. As you can see, we are looking at the Sermon on the Mount and the first 12 verses which are usually called the Beatitudes.
These are the blessing of Jesus. What does that really mean? How are we blessed? Who is blessed? Why are they blessed?
These blessing are like a splash of ice-cold water in the face of those who are self-satisfied and self -righteous. The Pharisees, for example, were wealthy, successful, powerful, and very religious. They thought the coming of the Kingdom of God would surely bring them happiness, and that God would surely reward them for being such good people. But they were not really righteous in God’s eyes, they were self centered and could not see pass their own piety.
These blessing are a cool drink of water for those who have a bad taste in their mouths from all the wicked, evil ways of the world, and are longing for something better&emdash;for something which brings hope into their lives.
Jesus turns the world upside down in these blessing. He gives to those who the world sees as losers the hand of his grace and to those who are so called winners he gives the slap of his hand as a wake up call to their false righteousness.
Richard Jensen says in his book Preaching Matthew’s Gospel, "The people of Israel had begun to serve the law in their time of exile. Jesus turns the law around. Humans are not meant to serve the law. The law is meant to serve humans. The law serves us as we seek to identify the neighbor’s need. The law is not only about us and relationship to God. The laws also about us and our relationship with our neighbor."
Jesus is saying here that these blessing are a blue print for us as we live our lives. It is telling us what we should be looking for, what we should be doing.
Jesus is telling us to look at those people, the ones who the world forgets about, through God’s eyes as God’s view is different. The poor in spirit, the meek, the peacemakers, are blessed, not because they are virtuous, but because they have something to look forward to in the great upheaval, the great world turned upside down.