Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. Matthew 5:1-2
Before we get started with my analysis of The Sermon on the Mount, I need to make a few things clear.
#1 – I’m not a theologian. I have had no formal training in Bible study or religious doctrine. I won’t be writing line by line exegesis here, I’ll leave that to the professionals.
#2 – I’m really only writing this for me, as a way to work out my purpose in life. The fact that it is going out worldwide on the internet is secondary. I invite your feedback and would be honoured if God spoke to you through my work but that’s not the primary goal.
#3 - Jesus spoke this sermon to his disciples. It says so right in the text. To be sure many people were there listening in but most of this teaching is directed at his closest followers. This is a manual for life as a Christ Follower. If you’re “listening in” welcome but this really is Jesus Following 101.
Here we go!
The first thing that jumps out at me is the word blessed. It’s not a word we use a lot in our daily life so I looked up the definition.
Blessed; adjective; divinely or supremely favoured – Dictionary.com
Jesus begins his hillside chat was a list of 8 blessings, commonly referred to as the Beatitudes. (Matthew 5:3-12) Right from the start it is clear that he is advocating a counter cultural movement. Those that are to be “supremely favoured” are not what anyone would expect. Poor in spirit, mourners, gentle, seekers of righteousness, merciful, pure hearted, peacemakers, and persecuted. When you contrast this list with the things that our society gives favour to there are stark differences.
- Blessed are the Poor in spirit? Society says; blessed are the rich in self importance. We live in a narcissistic society that values confidence and self promotion. Get with the program. Jesus says; by recognizing your inadequacies you can enter life on a whole new level.
- Blessed are those who mourn? Society says; Get over it! Dust yourself off and get on with life, quit being such a downer. Jesus says; you will be comforted.
- Gentle? Society says; nobody ever got ahead by being gentle. Lead, follow or get out of the way! Jesus says; you will gain the whole world!
- Hunger and thirst for righteousness? Society says; what is righteous in our world of hyper choice and information overload? Who are you to claim that you are right about anything? Live and let live. Jesus says; you will learn the answers.
- Merciful? Society says; you deserve what you get, you should have known better. Every man for himself! Jesus says; you will be treated in kind.
- Pure in heart? Society says; see righteousness, you pansy! Don’t waste your time making decisions with your heart you’ll only end up with heartburn. Jesus says; God will reveal himself to you.
- Peacemakers? Society says; that’s military slang for a cruise missile. You want to make peace the fastest way is to wipe out your enemies. Jesus says; you are doing God’s work and will be recognized as part of his family.
- Those who are persecuted? Society says; there is no blessing in persecution. Don’t rock the boat. See Merciful. Jesus says; you will be rewarded for your commitment.
Living this list is not easy. I fail daily. Aligning my life with these blessings is a first step in defining and living out my purpose.