Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bacyOm7Ewek
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, May 1, 2022
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Beatitudes: Upside-Down Values”
Texts – Matthew 5:3-12
Our theme for 2022 is “Doing Life with Jesus.” What does it look like to ‘go deep and grow strong’ in him as a follower of Christ? So far, we’ve covered the life of Jesus as God-boy and God-man. We’ve examined his ministry—how he began, the disciples he chose and some of his miracles. We’ve discovered his compassion and care for the outcasts and those considered unworthy, and of course the rejection he faced by those who should have been the first to recognize him. We’ve considered Jesus’ power in creating new eyes and raising the dead. We have also been challenged to consider the cost of following him as his disciples and what it means to ‘remain in him.’
Today, we are going to begin a two-month exploration of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes. This sermon encapsulates much of Jesus’ three years of teaching and so deserves more than just a thirty-minute overview. But, before we dive in, I’d like to begin by asking a question:
What words would you use to describe Jesus? Would ‘revolutionary’ make your list? It should! The sermon Jesus preached as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew would have been nothing less than shocking to Jesus’ audience…and it really is no less so today.
“Beatitudes: Of Dirt & Grace” Hillsong United reading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iFLwSVQwEE
God wants us to be his salt so that we season God-flavour in the world and shine so that God-colours can be seen in the midst of the world’s gray and gloom. But we cannot do so if we choose to live by the world’s standards. We must choose to embody Jesus’ upside-down values!
The Beatitudes which form the introduction of Jesus’ sermon, begin with promises of blessing. And we all want God to bless us, don’t we? But have we given serious consideration to the attitudes Jesus outlines as being needed by those who wish to be blessed…or to the nature of God’s blessings for that matter? The upside-down values of Jesus found in the Beatitudes are precursors for true blessing, so that we in turn can bless others and become the kind of followers that Jesus is calling us to be—Jesus’ salt and light to a world in need of both.
Do you have the attitudes that Jesus identifies as ‘blessed?’ Let’s begin our self-assessment.
WHAT DOES GOD BLESS?
Matthew 5:3-12, NLT
v.3 - “God blesses those who are poor [in spirit] and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
What does it look like to be poor in spirit? The Greek word ‘ptochos’ is translated as ‘beggarly, poor, destitute, or as one who cowers.’ The Greek word ‘pneumati’ is translated as ‘wind or spirit’ which renders the meaning of Jesus’ words ‘poor in spirit.’ He is referring not only to poverty due to lack of money, but any need capable of making us fully dependent on God. When we recognize our poverty without God and confess our need for him, we are blessed. And as you may recall from last week, God’s children are never to become independent of him. Our desires for independence get in the way, not only of our recognition that we desperately need God in our lives, but also of receiving his blessing of being included in his kingdom.
v.4 – “God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
The idea that ‘mourning’ or ‘sorrow’ can be good and the right thing to do has been lost by many in our day. How does the world think? Haven’t we all heard the advice, “If it feels good ________!” [do it] We are told that the ultimate goal in life is happiness, so the idea that there is a place for mourning, that in fact brings blessing, is incomprehensible! What could Jesus be talking about? When is mourning required of us and in turn brings blessing? The condition of this fallen world should cause us to grieve the loss of God’s perfect world; and when we see the suffering of innocent people, we should join them in their pain. Our own sin should cause us to deeply mourn our inability to perfectly obey the God who loves us so much. And as we mourn, we repent of what grieves God and experience the forgiveness available to us through Jesus…and so are comforted.
v.5 – “God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.”
Is there any quality God values above humility? I don’t believe so. Think about it, humility functions as the foundation for so much of our walk with Jesus—our obedience, our generosity, our recognition of our need for him. Without humility, we cannot admit our dependence on him. Without humility, we can never admit our damaged condition and need for forgiveness. Without humility, we cannot experience the unity of the body of Christ—working together in harmony, no part better than another, all taking our lead from Jesus who is the head. Humility may in fact be the most powerful attribute we can possess from God’s perspective. Humility, like love, acts like heavenly currency; and the humble are blessed with the inheritance of the whole earth.
Of course, those who do not follow Jesus think this notion utterly ridiculous. It is the powerful who get what they want. You have to demand your own or become the punching bag of the world. But that is such a limited perspective on life. Even if you live to be 100 years and could boast about gaining everything you ever wanted on your own without God, then what? This life is really just the preview leading up to the feature presentation…and what is to come for God’s followers is so much better than anything we can experience on planet Earth in its current condition!
v.6 – “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.”
In our world, that can be truly ugly in its current state, how can Jesus’ promise that a hunger and thirst for justice will ever be satisfied? Because God’s desire is also for justice. He may appear aloof or unconcerned with the affairs of this world, but nothing could be further from the truth. What he is, is patient! He has a plan, which began before the Creation and it is following a specially designed course. Within that plan we are permitted to exercise freewill and reject God’s designs, but the final chapter has already been written. God will bring about justice to this world, so when we desire the same thing, we can know that it is a hope that will someday be fulfilled. Jesus is coming and will judge the world—both those who will join him for eternity and those who will be rejected because of their rejection of him.
v.7 – “God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.”
What does God bless those who show mercy with? Mercy! It is a principle we find repeatedly in Scripture. Those who forgive will be forgiven. Those who extend grace to others, are themselves given grace. Those who are generous, will have their generosity returned. On the flip side, however, those who withhold any of these God-given gifts from others, will themselves not be shown mercy, will not be forgiven or be given grace and should not expect to experience the generosity of God. As gifts bestowed on us from God, they are not ours to withhold from others—no matter who they are or what they’ve done. These things do not originate with us, we cannot earn them, so we also must not be miserly in dispersing them either.
v.8 – “God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.”
What does it mean to have a ‘heart that is pure?’ It is an enacted desire to do good, to think good, to be good! Innocence is one component of purity—innocent from selfish motivations. The world often derides the idea of innocence in an individual as child-like lacking maturity, gullible lacking street smarts, inexperienced lacking knowledge. But I believe God wants us to be innocent in the sense that we are not ‘guilty.’ We are to be good, just as Jesus is good. And it isn’t enough to look the part. Just as an apple with rot is thrown away, so a ‘Christian’ whose heart is not pure—has not been washed clean by the work of the cross—is really no Christian at all and will miss the blessing of seeing God.
v.9 – “God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.”
How do we work for peace? It isn’t simply about ‘keeping the peace.’ The fact that it is ‘work’ implies effort. As children of God, being peacemakers should be one of our hallmarks. So how can we work to promote peace? Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem as a signal that his reign was to be one of peace. As his followers, do we have a reputation for spreading peace? I wish it were the case. Unfortunately, even Jesus’ followers have difficulty with not letting the world’s messages seep in. Too often we take our cues from the wrong sources—the angry, demanding, domineering, disrespectful, in your face, my rights at all costs crowd—rather than from our Prince of Peace. But how did Jesus say we will be known as children of God? By our love for him and for one another…and it is for those things that we will receive his blessing.
v.10-12 – “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”
No one likes the idea of persecution, but Jesus promised his followers that just as the world hated him, it will hate us. The world will hate us because it hates what it doesn’t understand, can’t control or disagrees with. But why should that be a cause for happiness and gladness, according to Jesus? Because those who face persecution in this life for doing good are ensured a place with him in the next. A great eternal blessing awaits all who suffer for following Jesus.
Yet still, how can persecution be viewed as anything positive. It is so upside-down! But here’s the thing. It can make sense if we look at it from another perspective…such as the perspective of a woman about to give birth—the labour is horrendous, but once that baby is lying in her arms the pain is quickly forgotten or at least viewed as being ‘worth it.’ I think that will become our perspective once we find ourselves face to face with Jesus. All the pain and sorrow of this life will be over and all that lies ahead is eternity in the most perfect place in existence—our heavenly home!
These are the attributes that provide the evidence that we are truly doing life with Jesus. They ensure that we will not only be blessed, but can also serve as ‘salt’ so that we season God-flavour into the world and as ‘light’ so that others become aware of God-colours in what can be a dark existence.
GOD-SEASONING / GOD-COLOUR
Matthew 5:13-16 – “13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
How many of us are living our lives as flavourless salt or as lights hidden away? That has to change! We condemn others to hell by not living according to Jesus’ upside-down values. And I dare say, we will find ourselves truly disappointed when we come to stand before Jesus at his return. Do we really think that God is going to roll out the red carpet for us if we have made light of his Son’s sacrifice? Assumed that a confession of sin is all that is required to claim our get out of hell free card? We are to live our lives as indentured servants to God! If we hope to gain entry into heaven as a follower of Christ, we must be followers of Christ. Not pursuers of riches, prestige or anything else, for securing our own comforts and pleasure.
I know…many scoff at this notion…” wake up, Jane, and live in the real world!” But I simply respond with Jesus’ own words, “God blesses those who are poor [in spirit] and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Sunday, May 8, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Fulfillment of the Law” – In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!