GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 1)
A recent gallop poll showed that a significant majority of Americans are not happy. Not even close. Something between 70% and 90% of Americans are dissatisfied with their job, with their economic circumstances (this was a study before this 2020 Covid mess) and with their lifestyle. Really? Here we are, in the most abundant country on the planet, with the best of modern luxuries, surrounded by creature comforts, and it does not seem to be working? And yet, in many countries less fortunate, with overlays of poverty, we see examples of communities that seem satisfied, even happy, with what they have – or do not have.
Matthew 5:3-10 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
1. Blessing Means Happiness in the Deepest Sense. In the early teachings of Jesus, to a spellbound crowd who had heard of his earlier miracles and with his recently selected group of disciples, Jesus’ first major sermon featured the subject of blessings or happiness. Nine times Jesus frames life for his followers in terms of what it takes to be happy. This mixed audience included wealthy and poor and slave and free men.
2. The Promise of Happiness in Today’s Events. This is not just a “sometime in the future or in heaven” promise. It is or can be a now life circumstance – joy, happiness, blessedness – no matter their physical circumstances, they have available happiness in the deepest sense. Your reward in heaven is great (5:12).
3. Optimism in the Kingdom of God. Do you see Jesus’ teachings at the very beginning of his ministry? He is saying to all who follow him, to the disciples and others, that no matter their current situation, people bond or free, rich or poor, old and young, that God’s favor, in Jesus, is already resting on the followers of Jesus. How radical! No need for a religious leader or church or structure to confer standing with God! No amount of following religious rules to curry favor. The central theme of life, of joy and happiness, was in knowing and following Jesus.
No wonder Jesus’ first major sermon, discourse to the masses, is the Sermon on the Mount. In this, he will provide the blueprint for blessing, for happiness, for following Him, for enjoying right standing with God. Amazing! Stay tuned in weeks to come. Blessings to you in this new year.
— John Moore