Matthew 5:1-12 - Sermon given on January 29, 2023 • a2vc.org
The Beatitudes simply cannot be “good news” if they are understood as a set of “how-tos” for achieving blessedness. That wouldn’t be good news at all! This would just focus our attention on how we miss out, and how we mess up. This reading of the Beatitudes reverses what Jesus is doing in his Sermon on the Mount, throwing the doors of the kingdom open.
The only way into the kingdom is with our hands open. We think it’s with our hands closed tightly around our righteous, our accomplishments, our achievements, our performance–every rung of the salvation ladder we’ve climbed.
- The Beatitudes are not instructions for us to do anything.
- They aren’t a list of terms and conditions for admission to the kingdom.
- They aren’t recommendations for good-living in the presence of God.
- They aren’t a list of conditions that are especially pleasing to God.
Jesus doesn’t say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you... you will be better off for being poor, for mourning, for being persecuted, and so forth.”
And the Beatitudes aren’t the indications of who will be on top when the Kingdom fully comes, when that promise of the future is finally deposited in the present.
If you will permit me, they are illustrations, drawn from the mass of humanity right before Jesus, of the real and present availability of the kingdom of God.
If you were trying to illustrate the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God–an upside down place–where “the first will be last and last shall be first,” what better way to do this than to use the very people who would have been considered the outsiders and welcome them in? It’s almost as if he is looking out at the crowd, sizing it up, thinking, “How do I help these folks to understand that kingdom that I’m announcing is like nothing they’ve seen or heard of before, oh, I know.”
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
Blessed are those who mourn,
Blessed are the meek,
This was Jesus saying here is the proof that in me, I’m revealing the kingdom to you. You think these are the conditions of those who don’t measure up. Who aren’t good enough, holy enough, or righteous enough. But you have missed the point, I’m sorry. Just when you think you have been ruled out by your failures, your mistakes, your life’s circumstances, your missed opportunities, here’s the kingdom breaking into your present reality.
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