Today we read the ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ in Matthew 5. The end of chapter 4 describes “great crowds” that “followed him” so, “seeing the crowds he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them …”
This teaching begins, “Blessed are the poor (lowly, humble) in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. This is the very opposite to the spirit of mind shown by nearly all the Pharisees and lawyers; Jesus is going to have many verbal clashes with them in the next three years or so. He speaks of “the kingdom of heaven” not the kingdom in heaven. We wait for a heavenly kingdom to come on earth – to replace all earthly minded rulers, none of whom really believe in the true God. The last question his disciples asked him was “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6); Jesus explained that first his message had to be taken “to the end of the earth”, and it was not for them (or us) to know the time of his return. Today the Bible has reached the remotest nations.
“Blessed are the meek (gentle-minded) for they shall inherit the earth” (verse 5) – not heaven. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied” (verse 6). This world needs more than ever God’s kingdom to be established, there is a great hunger and thirst for all fleshly things today. Jesus told his disciples, “You are the light of the world” (verse 14), and they became the light which spread out, pagans became believers and Christ’s message was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Sadly, in the process, it became corrupted, just like the Jewish teachers had corrupted the message God gave through Moses and the prophets.
At the end of his parable about the persistent widow, Jesus asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). He does not give the answer; that is left for us. What is your answer?
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