I would like to begin working with the Sermon on the Mount as one of the best expressions of what it means to live in the Kingdom of God. Matthew has written these teachings of Jesus in a wonderfully compact form for those who would be students of Jesus. At the end of the Sermon we find the words of Jesus that the strong and enduring people of this life will be those who hear and keep these words (Matthew 7:24-29).
The teaching begins with the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. There are countless interpretations of what these blessings mean. The one thing I will say is that I don’t think they are challenges to BE a certain way as much as a pronouncement of Jesus to those who are already in a certain condition. Jesus is making the Kingdom available to all those folks sitting in the crowd, some wanting to follow and perhaps some who are curious and maybe a few ‘detectives’ trying to figure out what to do with this Jesus.
So let’s get started. And please be welcome to write back with a correction, insight or different interpretation.
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven (Kingdom of heaven and of God are synonymous). The favor, the mercy of God is with those who are destitute of most everything (see also Luke 6). Jesus has come to show them the time of God’s favor and to let them know that they belong to the Kingdom. This is a world turned upside down for most people think they are blessed when they have something. Think of folks who, when something good happens to them, say, ‘I am so blessed’. They think it a sign from God of their righteousness with him but Jesus makes it plain that the opposite is true. God looks upon the brokenhearted, the beggars, and the spiritually impoverished who would like to trust in God’s son. They will know they are in the Kingdom of God. They will sense it, live it, and grow in it. Of course if they gain possessions it does not necessarily mean they have lost the way to the kingdom but they must ever be aware that only by the grace of God do they live.