I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
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.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The first eleven verses of the Sermon on the Mount describe those who are “blessed,” a translation of the Greek word makarios, meaning “superabundant joy.” The word means “abundantly happy” or “filled with deep joy” or “fulfilled.” The Sermon on the Mount begins by saying that the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in the heart, the reviled, and the persecuted are abundantly happy and fulfilled.
No wonder Jesus’ teachings were considered revolutionary. He shattered conventional ways of looking at things. The way things appear to be is not the way things are. The way you think works best is not the best way. The way you think leads to life can actually lead away from it!
The meaning of power is not what you think.
The Sermon on the Mount begins by saying to whom belongs the kingdom of God (or Matthew prefers to call it the “kingdom of heaven”). Other ways to translate it are “reign of God,” “Divine Domain,” or “realm of God.”
The values Jesus teaches here show us that the values of the realm of God are very different from the values we often hold. When Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God, he is talking about the rule of God — about God’s will being done.
The kingdom of God is wherever and whenever God’s will is done. These values that transform are kingdom values — they are the values of the divine domain, the realm of God.
Our world is often topsy-turvy and upside down — and sometimes we get so used to it that, from our vantage point, it looks right side up. We get so used to seeing things as the world does that we even begin to doubt that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is true or possible.
Jesus gave us these words to set our vision right, to set our minds right, and to set our hearts right. The teachings of Christ lived out in the kingdom of God turn the world — and our lives — right side up!
G.K. Chesterton, the British pastor and author of detective stories, said of the Sermon on the Mount: “On first reading, you feel that it turns everything upside down, but the second time you read it, you discover that it turns everything right side up. The first time you read it, you feel it is impossible; the second time, you feel that nothing else is possible.”
Jesus’ teachings cause us to ask, What kind of life does God value? We see that life lived perfectly in Jesus and hear it in Jesus’ teachings.
The beatitudes of Jesus announce a realm of values that press us to ask where we belong. Do we belong to a realm that recognizes no spiritual need, that does not mourn the condition of our world and the plight of others, that is hardened to the point of being unmoldable, that has no spiritual appetite and no longing for justice, that is unable to empathize and extend mercy and forgiveness, that is double minded, that is consumed by strife and fighting and violence?
Or do we belong to a realm of dependence on God, tenderness and mercy towards others, openness to God, a strong appetite for justice and righteousness, a single-minded devotion to God and peacemaking?
That is the question Jesus puts before us every day.
Hymn Suggestion: “Seek Ye First”
Karen Lafferty (1972)
Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And His righteousness;
And all these things shall be added unto you.
Ask, and it shall be given unto you;
Seek, and you shall find.
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Man shall not live by bread alone,
But by every word
That proceeds out from the mouth of God.
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture. I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster