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TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Date: 
January 29, 2017
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson
Reading: 
Psalm 15 Matthew 5:1-12

                          

 

 

THEME: The Beatitudes are a series of blessings promised to those who exhibit the        attributes of God’s Kingdom… the Beatitudes turn the world upside down

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

  • When given the opportunity to explain the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – to young people, I explain them in this way:  Imagine a horrific motor vehicle accident at a major intersection shortly after noon… 
    • Mark is the news bulletin… just the bare facts… very few details…
    • Matthew is the 6:00 P.M. news… same story with greater details…
    • Luke is the 11:00 P.M. news… all the details + human interest…
    • John is the news of the week in review… John goes behind the story…
  • Each one of the gospels tells the story of Jesus in a different way... Each one of the gospels has a different purpose… The Gospel of Matthew is the teaching gospel, and today’s sermon is very much a teaching sermon…
  • In my preaching, I often follow the lectionary… the lectionary is a three-year cycle of scripture readings that many churches use for teaching and preaching… The lectionary suggests four readings for each Sunday – one from the Old Testament, one from the book of Psalms, one from Epistles, and one from the gospels… using the lectionary, a church can work its way through the entire Bible every three years.
  • Many of this year’s gospel readings are from the first gospel – Matthew
  • The gospel readings for the next several weeks all focus on The Sermon on the Mount, starting today with the Beatitudes…
  • Matthew’s gospel is the teaching gospel… what does that mean?
    • In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus is always teaching, either by word or by example…
    • The Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5 – 7) is the first of five major teaching sections in Matthew’s Gospel…. (10:5 - 11:1; 13:1-53; 18:1 - 19:1; 24:3 - 26:1)
    • Matthew ends his gospel with The Great Commission (28:19-20) in which Jesus sends his disciples out to make disciples of all nations… the word disciple means learner.
    • The gospel of Matthew begins and ends with an emphasis on teaching.
  • Jesus’ teaching was directed at his disciples to equip them to do their work – his work -  intelligently and effectively…
  • In his teaching, Jesus shares with the disciples the message he wants them to carry to others
  • The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ “ordination address” to the twelve  (Barclay)

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

  • If we are to believe Matthew, Jesus went up on a hillside near Capernaum, gathered a great crowd of people, including his disciples, around him… he sat down and began to teach them… and he went on and on and on – (well past 10:00)
  • Matthew speaks of the Sermon on the Mount as if it were one single sermon preached on a single occasion… but in reality, the Sermon on the Mount is far more than one sermon… it’s too lengthy and much too complex for listeners to absorb in just one sitting…
  • Rather than being a single sermon, the Sermon on the Mount is a collection of the highlights of all of Jesus’ sermons… the Sermon on the Mount contains the core and essence of Jesus’ entire preaching… Everything Jesus wanted his disciples to know is there…
  • The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ Inaugural Address in which he lays out his vision of life in the Kingdom of Heaven and the principles by which God’s Kingdom is ruled.
    • The Kingdom of God (or The Kingdom of Heaven) is any place where God reigns…
  • The good news is that we do not have to wait for eternity to see the Kingdom, because it is in our midst…. Jesus proclaims. “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”  (Matthew 4:17)
    • The kingdom of heaven comes near whenever a person chooses to serve God…
    • If we are true followers of Jesus, we are living with one foot in this world and one foot in the kingdom…
    • “The kingdom has been inaugurated, but not yet fully realized… so there remains a creative tension between the “already” and the “not yet” aspects of the kingdom.”  (LABC – p. 74)

THE BEATITUDES

  • The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes – a series of blessings promised to those who exhibit the attributes of God’s kingdom…
  • In many Bible translations the Beatitudes begin with the words, “Blessed are…”, but in some translations the Beatitudes begin with the words: “How happy are…” or even “Wonderful news for…” (“Blessed” can also be read: “There is a blessing for…”
  • The Beatitudes are the standard of conduct for all believers… they are not a set of rules for worldly success, but are instead a glimpse at rules that govern the kingdom – a mirror image world where everything seems backwards – the poor, not the rich, are blessed and the meek, not the mighty, inherit the earth…
  • Some people call them the “BE – ATTITUDES” because they point us to a way of being that is pleasing to God and that will bring happiness to us in the kingdom… the choice is ours: to be, or not to be
  • The Beatitudes are a promise of future blessing for current behavior… the rewards will come, but perhaps not in this life…
  • The first four Beatitudes (poor in spirit, mourn, meek, and hunger and thirst for righteousness) describe the heart of the person who is rightly related to God.
  • The remaining Beatitudes, (merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and the persecuted) describe how such a person relates to other people.
  • The first and the last Beatitudes offer their blessings now. The other blessings are all promises for the future.
  • The characteristics Jesus lists as belonging to the people of the kingdom are also those Jesus himself exemplifies… Jesus is meek and lowly in heart… he mourns over the unrepentant… he shows mercy… he is a peacemaker…

TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

  • It isn’t easy to accept the Beatitudes because they turn our world upside down… they challenge the popular way of thinking…
  • the Beatitudes contrast the values of the world with the values of the kingdom… the two are not the same…
  • In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that the world has it all wrong and has us badly fooled...
  • The Beatitudes teach us that our ways are not God’s ways… the way of the world is not the way of the kingdom…
  • In the Beatitudes Jesus calls us to love the things that we hate and to hate the things that we love…
  • If we were to write the Beatitudes, we would say:
  • Blessed are the wealthy, because they can buy anything they want.
  • Blessed are the powerful, because they can have things their way.
  • Blessed are the beautiful, because everybody wants to be their friend.
  • Blessed are the retired, because they don’t have to punch a clock…
  • But Jesus turns it all around… it’s not the wealthy, the powerful, and the beautiful who are blessed… it is the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the merciful, and the pure in heart…
  • These are not the people who get ahead in the world, but in the kingdom, Jesus promises, they will be first!
  • In the Beatitudes, Jesus pronounces a blessing on those whom the world often bullies… and in so doing, Jesus invites us to become citizens of a new world, a new reality – The Kingdom of God

CONCLUSION

  • The Beatitudes are good news!
  • The Beatitudes are the good news that God turns the world upside down.
  • The Beatitudes are good news of God’s saving power.
  • The Beatitudes are Christ’s promise that God comes with saving power to those who need saving – and that is us!

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Sermon Seeds

  • Primary Source – Richard Donovan – SermonWriter.Com – resources for January 30, 2011 – including a sermon titled: Upside Down Blessings   This sermon relies heavily on this resource…
  • Resources from: DesperatePreacher.Com for January 30, 2011
  • Daily Study Bible – Matthew  – William Barclay
  • Life Application Bible Commentary – Matthew – published by Tyndale
  • Pulpit Resource – resources for January 30, 2011 – William H. Willimon

 

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