Today we begin the Sermon on the Mount. This is the greatest collection of teaching that we have from Jesus. It is His longest recorded discourse through the gospels, and in it, he shows us what it looks like to live for God’s Kingdom. And put simply, it’s much different than what we are used to.
Jesus begins his sermon with what know of as the “beatitudes”, an overview of what it looks like to be someone who is pursuing God’s Kingdom. We see this word, “blessed” repeated over and over again. What do you think of when you think of being blessed? To our culture, being blessed essentially means getting whatever your heart desires. But how does this compare to what Jesus says true, Kingdom blessing is? The main difference between what we see as our definition of blessing and Jesus’ definition of blessing is that our definition of blessing is about us while the Kingdom’s definition is about God.
Pastor John Piper has preached about these verses and notices that there is a particular pattern that is important for us to notice here—future promises sandwiched by present assurance. The pieces of bread are seen in verses 3 and 10, in which both verses show that the disciples are able to receive the kingdom of heaven. The verses in between, 4–9, show what it looks like to have the blessings of the Kingdom. Piper says,
“This is what the kingdom brings: comfort, earth ownership, satisfied righteousness, mercy, a vision of God, and the awesome title, Son of God. You don’t have to pick and choose among these promises. They all belong to the kingdom.”
But there is also another reality that we need to see: verses 4-9 indeed show a blessing that will come, but we must realize that even though we can have a taste of these blessings, we will not see the blessings in full until we see the Kingdom of God in full—either when we see death or when Jesus returns. The reality is that we are living in an “already–not yet” version of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom has come in the life of Jesus Christ, and He is continuing to build His Kingdom through His church, but His Kingdom has not been fully realized either. There is still sin in the world and the Enemy is still active. But one day the Kingdom of God will be fully realized. And we have the opportunity to start tasting the benefits of that Kingdom here, right now.
We cannot pursue the Kingdom without realizing that the Kingdom is ultimately about Jesus, and it is only by his grace and mercy that we can live out His Kingdom. We can’t do it in our own power, only through the power of the cross. The Beatitudes that we look at today are given to show us the radical ways that Jesus calls us to live for His Kingdom. We should notice how different the things that God values are from the things that we value.
As you reflect on this passage today, what are some things in your life that you need to address in order to pursue God’s Kingdom and not your own?
By: Graham Withers