Chapter 5 of Matthew Gospel has a title that usually says something like “Sermon on the Mount” or something similar. Whether we see it primarily as preaching or teaching or just Jesus spontaneously sharing wisdom one things is clear–this was heavy stuff! This was not a feel-good , follow-me-and-everything-will-be-great message. There was no hint of Jesus just saying what the crowd wanted to hear or trying to be careful so as not to offend anyone. Jesus touched on some hot button issues and laid out some principles for life that are among some of the most important distinguishing marks of those who follow Christ, as opposed to those who follow any other number of religions, including Christianity.
Brief tangent : There is, I believe, a clear and distinct difference between those who claim to be “Disciples of Jesus Christ” and those who claim to be Christian. A disciple can rightfully be called a Christian , but with a Christian we can never be sure if such a person is truly a disciple. Are they really walking with Jesus? Listening? Obeying? I’m not the one (and neither are you) to judge on this, but we should at least acknowledge that the distinction is real.
Okay, so to start this time of teaching Jesus talks about people who are blessed or those who will receive great blessing. Who are they?
- The impoverished
- The sad and mourning
- The humble
- The righteous
- The merciful
- The pure in thought
- Those who work for peace
- Those who suffer persecution
Hint : If the church you attend defines “blessed” in other ways you might want to stop and think for a moment. Among Christians in churches of all shapes and sizes there are A LOT of ideas out there about what the “Christian life” looks like, what blessing looks like and what can be expected for those who are “good Christians.”
Jesus drew boundaries around the kinds of people that were and would be blessed by God; the kinds of people what he was looking for to become in group of followers who would change the world. What Jesus outlines are not AT ALL like what the world values, what will get you the (so-called) good things of life and what some Christian leaders will tell you that you need only “claim” in order to receive.
What a start to a sermon. Making it through this daunting list only leads even more anti-normal ways looking at our lives and the way we live in this world. We’ll talk about those next time….
Originally posted 2015-05-31 12:34:28.