It’s one of the most famous passages of Scripture: The Sermon on the Mount.
It has been parsed, studied, expounded upon…and with good reason: These are powerful words!
Yet, I sometimes wonder if, in all our ‘studying’ we miss the bigger picture.
Jesus, beginning His public ministry, goes to a place where He can be heard by the crowd and begins to teach. He’s teaching about a new kind of faith…a relational faith in God. Some in the OT had experienced it–David, Abraham…but for most people in that day–the Jews in particular–much of their hope from God was all about observing ‘The Law‘, which had been handed down from Moses.
Jesus was inviting them to view God differently, and to understand that God knew them and cared for them. He was inviting them to think differently about their faith–not only as a ‘code of conduct’, but also as an invitation to relationship.
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
He’s saying, ‘God knows you. He knows your heart. He knows your ache for Him, your desire to be close to Him and please Him…and He will be known by you!’
I would imagine each and every one of the people in the crowd could see themselves in one or more of those ‘beatitudes’. (Yet, none of them–if honest–could see themselves in all of them.)
Jesus is introducing them to the invitation to intimacy that David had experienced. He’s saying that ‘God sees you’. God knows your heart.
We are similar to Jesus first hearers.
Many of us have a ‘hunger and thirst’ for righteousness. Many of us realize our need for Him and are humbled by it. Some of us mourn. Others seek peace and justice.
All of us have that ache inside to know Him…even if we don’t understand it.
Jesus is saying to ‘the people…the crowd’ that God sees and He will be found by us if we look.
Jesus was inviting them to a New Kind of Faith.
He’s inviting us too!