August 9, 2019
Scripture Matthew 5:3-16
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others.”
Matthew 5:14-16a NRSV
One thing impresses me each time I read the Beatitudes in our scripture today: That everyday, living people surrounded Jesus, and that the static scenes depicted in the Gospels involved flesh and blood persons from all walks of life. They brought with them personal stories and a lifetime of experiences. They had all manner of emotions and feelings. Even though they were changed by their encounter with the ministry of Jesus, theses new believers continued their lives and began living in new and different ways. That involvement with Jesus altered who and what they were, as they evolved into persons who were very different from before.
This is where this last portion of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount demonstrate the power of God and the profound, direct influence of Jesus and his ministry on the lives of the people of Palestine. It enveloped them and changed them. And, now these same words and power involve and affect you and me. These words and statements were very hard to ignore for those surrounding Jesus. But, spelled out for us by the writers of the Gospel of Matthew the words of this Gospel and God’s Word impact and change us. It is God’s Word: Jesus, who was and remains the Christ (John 1:1-18 and 1 John 1:1-4.
The teachings of Christ are more easily understood because of the example of God’s love in Christ, the support God provides us, and the support we gain in discussion, prayer, study, and worship. All of this is made possible because God brought us the kingdom of heaven. The Beatitudes inform us that this process has nothing to do with good deeds or performing holy works. We cannot earn our way into God’s acceptance. Instead, you and I receive a gift from God: Mercy and love. As a result of this gift of God’s grace, we do our best to follow God and to do the work that God has ordained for us.
Notice, that as Jesus spells out these key elements of the kingdom of God, we receive no time limits, no promotions, no categories of greatness, and no list to fulfill. Instead, we have the Word of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus shared the heart of the Gospel early in his ministry in the Beatitudes. It became the foundation for the lives of the disciples and the hundreds and thousands that followed Jesus. It continues to give us an outline of God’s depth, power, and peace. God’s blessing allows each of us to relate to God and Christ in a way that fits into our lives, our choices, our time, and the daily expression of who and what we are. Thanks be to God for the many gifts and insights we receive through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.