GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 5)
Jesus pronounced in this His first public discourse and teaching how to be happy and successful in life. This is happy in the deepest sense, not just satisfied from a good meal, or a winning business or life event, but a deep settled, blessed, what one author called superlatively blessed life. This is fullness consistent with our design as God’s people and in a manner pleasing to Him.
So far, in this first of Jesus’ sermons after selecting the disciples, he sounds like He is putting together less than a winning team. He has lifted up the virtues of poverty, grief, meekness, and now, satisfaction in matters spiritual but unseen. This would not make the top 100 goals in any list of career aspirations. But that is the point. The Kingdom of God is not of merit or collections in this world but in the Kingdom which is eternal.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be fully satisfied. – Matt. 5:6.
1. Changing the Values in Life. The religious community around Jesus was all about “show,” and not anything about “go.” Religious leaders paraded in places of honor and stature with fancy robes and loud processions announcing their stations in life. The rich were honored, the values compromised with the ruling authorities around them, and even using their religious place for profit, as seen in Jesus’ scourging of the temple. They loved titles of honor, acts of religious custom done for others to see, prayers loudly in public, and in all of that, hypocrites at the core. Into this arena, Jesus changes the script: hunger and thirst for righteousness.
2. Results of the True Disciple’s Life. The promise is sure. The true joy and peace and satisfaction in life comes from a right relationship with God and a righteous life that follows from that devotion. The words fully satisfied first come from the mercy and redemption offered through Christ and then a full commitment to a life that follows from that redemption. Rightness received and righteousness live out. That is the message of this beatitude.
3. Warning: This Life is Costly and Leads to Hard times. Lest His followers misunderstand, this higher calling comes with a price:
Matthew 5:10-12 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
With this fourth beatitude, Jesus begins to blend the great Twin Themes that make up the whole of the New Testament. Salvation andDiscipleship. The Kingdom of God is wholly unlike the Kingdom of men, including the phony religious leaders who pretend to know about spiritual matters. It is wholly other, spiritual, following the teaching of Jesus, living in a way that brings true spiritual satisfaction.
The next three beatitudes describe the fruit of the work that God performs in and for those who follow Him. The first four beatitudes are the how – through spiritual poverty, a genuine spiritual poverty of spirit, meekness toward God and others, and a laser focus on what pleases a righteous God. The next beatitudes give us the results that follow from these commitments. Hang on. It keeps getting better and better. Blessings to you this week.
— John Moore