It’s June 2017 and Donald Trump is President of the United States of America. As he is on his quest to make America great again, a young charismatic leader starts a tour across the country winning the hearts of the masses by meeting their needs and offering a message of hope. The core of his message is “my administration is at hand!” His government is now. Multitudes of people are reached by his efforts and many are joining his movement. Then one day, in front of a large crowd, he appoints his cabinet picks and prepares for what many expect to be his inauguration speech. The media frenzy is at an all time high. Social media is stirring with debate about this man and his actions. Conspiracy theories start to circulate while many are left to wonder what is truth and what is fake news about him. Love him or hate him, everyone is now on the “edge of their seats” waiting to hear what he is about to say. As you watch this seen unfold, what are the thoughts going through your mind? What are you feeling? Is this an attempted coup on the current administration? Your heart beats as you see him come to the podium to speak and you wonder is this some kind of revolution?
Mount of Beatitudes
A picture I took from my trip to Israel. This is were Jesus preached the sermon on the mount.
As we enter into Matthew chapter 5, these are the kind of thoughts and feelings you would have experienced. Jesus has been preaching and teaching throughout all Galilee that the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” He is in essence saying the arrival of His Kingdom is now. He has been healing multitudes of people and winning their confidence to join Hs movement. Watch Him as one day He goes up a hillside, called a mount, and He appoints His twelve disciples, which would have been seen as Him selecting His cabinet to help run His kingdom. Then He proceeds to heal all the sick and demon possessed people in the crowd as power goes forth from Him. At this point He goes to the top of the mount, in Moses like style, and gets ready to give what all are expecting to be His inauguration speech. His fans and His haters are in the crowd all eager to hear what He’s going to say next. Hear His voice rolling down the hillside near the sea of Galilee as we read in verse 3…
“Wait a minute” you say, “I thought we were going to hear how You would elevate us to national greatness and prosperity. I thought You were going to give instructions on how You were going to recruit a massive military and overthrow the Romans by force.” Jesus is taking all their nationalistic expectations of the Messianic Kingdom and flipping it on its head. He is announcing the true nature of His Kingdom and what life is like for its citizens. He basically started by saying You’re living the Kingdom Life Now when…
Your Unusually Blessed State of Being Produces an Irresistible Influence
The blessing of being redeemed by Jesus and living under His Kingly Lordship was intended by Christ to produce a disciple that is at peace and even full of joy no matter the circumstances they find themselves in, because Jesus knows that this has an irresistible influence in drawing the world to Himself.
It has been well documented that many of the 1st century Christians were persecuted and even martyred for their faith in Christ. One writer says that the blood of the martyrs was like seed that caused multitudes of people in the Roman empire to join the movement, willing to give up their lives for Jesus Christ. Why? History tells us that many of them, as they were facing certain death, were singing praises to God, rejoicing that they were able to suffer for the sake of Christ. Many were reported to have died with smiles on their faces. When people saw that even in the face of death, they had peace and joy because of their faith in this Jesus who had reportedly risen from the dead, many concluded there must be something to this Jesus and joined the faith.
This sermon on the mount begins with what is famously called the “beatitudes”, because they describe the attitude or state of being that characterizes the citizens of Christ’s Kingdom. And as Jesus stands upon the mount and instructs the people on the principles of the Kingdom, Matthew wants the reader to recall the giving of the ten commandments through Moses. And as Jesus teaches the people as the prophesied new Moses like figure, He knows the hardships many in the crowd will face in the future, therefore the ones He called “blessed” where not the ones the people expected to be blessed. Jesus was saying those who recognize their spiritual poverty, mourn their sinful condition and know their need of His grace are the ones that are blessed. “The Kingdom belongs to you” Jesus was saying. Those who have the qualities of being meek, craving righteousness, merciful, pure in heart and peacemakers were the ones who were truly fortunate or happy in life. Why? Because these qualities, these characteristics flow out of being connected to the King. These beatitudes are the state of being that comes to a person who has received the grace of Christ and has an abiding relationship with Him. They have a relationship with Him that allows them to have peace and joy even through trials and the severest persecution. To them, Jesus says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is yours!” Why? Because Jesus knows that when people see you at peace and having joy through things that would cause them to fall apart, it causes them to want the Christ they see in you!
This is why Jesus says they are the salt of the earth. We are to bring the savory flavor of Christ to the world. We are the light of the world. People need to see the light of Christ shining through you as you deal with the ups and downs of life. Don’t try to hide it! People need to see Jesus in you! They are literally dying for it.
Is this what your life looks like right now? Have you sensed your need of Christ and received of His grace. Are you experiencing a daily relationship with Him that is producing the characteristics of these beatitudes in your life that gives you a steady peace and joy, regardless of your circumstances? He desperately needs you to live this kind of Kingdom life now, so you became an irresistible influence for Christ in your school, job, neighborhood and home.
Jesus now needs to clarify a conspiracy theory that was floating around about Him in verse 17…