With today’s blog, I begin a study in the Beatitudes found in the fifth chapter of Matthew.
Jesus gives those who would follow Him the keys to the Kingdom, His Kingdom in the Beatitudes. He tells plainly how to be happy. Jesus calls His disciples and travels to a mount. It is not a fancy mountain with a perfect amphitheater. It is a hill where He can sit and still be heard. Contrast this with the teachers of the law at the time and even Jesus’ other teachings. They taught often from the synagogue. They had amphitheaters or orated from steps. They had chairs that looked like thrones and spoke only to males sometimes men and sometimes boys. But Jesus delivers His message of hope from the side of a rough hill. He delivers it to His disciples and those that could hear; men and women, young and old. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes. It begins with hope and that hope is for all mankind.
Today we learn in schools and at home, on the streets and in the workplace. We learn how to survive, but not how to be alive. We learn how to manage our physical needs, but think noting of our spiritual hunger or even the pleasantness of a single day or moment. Not only is God dead to many, but happiness has been proven so illusive that it is inconsequential and often seen as a mark of naivete or just plain stupidity. If you are happy, something is wrong with you. How far we have strayed from a people set apart, God’s people. Those people who have died to self that they might live, truly live, for God. How far we have strayed from Jesus’ desire for us to be happy.
We are skeptical. From an early age we seldom cede authority to anyone to teach. Government leaders yell out their plans for a new utopia. It will be different, they say. They tell us it will be better, but then they turn to their own hands, where they find a thirst for power, or money, or political clout. This is not just true in politics but in every facet of our lives. From parents and caregivers, preachers and teachers, managers and bosses to peacekeepers and criminals all of us have imagined a better way at least a better way for us. We have imagined that we know how to proceed and that others don’t. We justify our desires for more better different as beneficial for the whole, however man-made, and I mean however – however stolen, however corrupt, however tricky, however murderous.
Our teachers in school are bound by interference from administrators and parents alike. When teachers do get to teach, they are seldom heard over the clamor of politics, protections and pedagoguery. Through it all, we no longer consider the church effective. It is no place for learning. To many in the world, it is no longer a teacher. It has been stripped of its authority because of its people. How I hate writing those words. God’s great home has become, in the eyes of man, a shell and a shill.
I don’t know if we could travel much further from Jesus’ desire for us, from His words on the mount. With God’s help and God’s will, we can close that distance. We can be a people set apart, a people that show the Way by walking in the Way, not the do as I say bunch, but the we follow Jesus and submit to God bunch.
We know from Mark 1:27 that Jesus spoke with authority. He spoke with the Authority of God. Our verse from Matthew 5:1-2 tells us that Jesus saw the crowds, went to a mountainside and sat down. It says that His disciples came to Him and He began to teach them. It doesn’t get much simpler. He has disciples, people that follow Him, that want to learn from Him. His lectern is thin air, a seat on the side of a mountain. Not only do His followers seek Him, but crowds seek Him. His teaching is that much sought after.
Who do we seek after? Who would we pack a stadium to see? Do we seek the unusual? Do we want to make a show of who we listen to? Do we post selfies of our latest learning adventures? Who do we yield authority to?
Psalm 103 verses 1-5 gives a stunning example of why we may have confidence in seeking God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit. This passage tells what God can and does do for us. David tells us to praise God for what God does. More on the word praise in the next post. Here God is shown to forgive our all of our sins, heal us in every way, redeem us from the very pit of hell, both on earth and in the afterlife and He crowns us, He crowns us. He crowns us with love and compassion and satisfies our desires with good things. He renews us so that we may soar like the eagle, that is to say, we are no longer weighted down with sin and corruption and wanton desires. What remarkable youth and freedom and overwhelming joy can be had through God. This is what Jesus is giving us the keys to in His Beatitudes. Jesus gives us the keys to freedom and renewal when he sits on the side of a hill and begins to teach. He gives us the keys to everlasting joy.
Please re-read Psalm 103;1-5. Think about being free from every burden. Think about being renewed. May your day be filled with renewal. May it be filled with mercy. May it be filled with God. Amen.
Thank you for reading Bev