Ice breaker: What nicknames have you had and how did you get them?
The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ most famous sermon. It is often quoted within the church and even quoted by those outside the church. We looked at passages in both Matthew and Luke.
Within the Sermon on the Mount is a section called The Beatitudes…The Blessings. This is very often misunderstood and misapplied. We often look at it somewhat upside down.
Jason said that Jesus’ ministry was announced by John the Baptist – Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Initially tested by the temptations for 40 days in the wilderness and then Jesus’ message began with
(Mt 4:17) “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand”. Then we have “The Sermon on the Mount” including the Beatitudes/Blessings. Jason suggested that perhaps we can better understand these as invitations to the kingdom of God for labeled people groups. Jesus often referred to the kingdom of God in His many teachings. The message is for “Now” “Near” “At Hand”. The Beatitudes tell us to whom the kingdom is open.
Talk About It
What are some of the ways you have heard or understood the Beatitudes?
What are some ways Jason said people have typically looked at these Blessings?
-Perhaps as steps to salvation ( ex: blessed are those who mourn/broken in spirit because you must know and see your need for God as a first step to salvation etc…
-Qualities you should possess after salvation.
(these things don’t make sense if you apply the same principles throughout the passage)
When did this Sermon occur in Jesus life? How does this timing help us to understand these “blessings” as an invitation to the kingdom?
(At the beginning of His earthly ministry. After He had been announced as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist and after his 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. Now He begins with this message)
Matt 5: 1-12
Jesus looks at the cultural labels and categories of people and tries to shake their thinking. Can you picture Him on the hill lovingly looking over the crowds and identifying some of them. Looking at them as He says YOU are blessed if you are in this category…the kingdom is open to you! Your circumstances, the labels, how others have regarded or treated you….none of that matters. YOU have the kingdom of God in your presence. Your life means something to God and His purposes. You are not left out!
People have a tendency to label differently than God does.
How do labels get attached to us and others? In relationship to God, how would some people falsely think they are “in” with God and some think they are “out”?
Which of the labels in the message did you connect with if any? Why? Other labels not mentioned?
Poor in spirit? Bankrupt spiritually, nothing left, holding on by a thread? Ready to give up on it all?
Mourn? Completely overwhelmed with the sadness of life, crying, depressed, broken by the hardness of this world?
Meek? Don’t stand up for yourself, shy, intimidated, exploited, unassertive?
Hunger for Righteousness/Justice? Those who constantly suffer from injustice and long for things to be set right, crushed by the system
Merciful? Soft hearted, always giving to others, taken advantage of
Pure in heart? So concerned with getting it right, perfectionist, drive others crazy as being unrealistic
Peacemaker? Pacify others, get run over in the process, and lose yourself and your identity
Persecuted for righteousness? Convictions and actions get you in trouble with those who set the rules, political or religious system says to you to stop with your convictions/actions
Jesus is inviting all these groups that others may not respect or regard, to come, to know, to be part of the kingdom of God. To know the love of God for them, the changed life that He brings, the purpose, the participation. To be “IN” with God, to be close to God, to live life WITH God.
People are not blessed because they are in these group but because those labels or truths about them do not exclude them from the blessings of kingdom life, life with God.
Jesus often took the normal events and used them to teach a different message than people might have expected.
Cultures, Churches and Individuals often label people – In/Out OK/not OK
Jesus came for all. He invites all.
Who would you have a hard time welcoming to the kingdom, to church, into your own circle of influence and love? Who is it easy for you to reject?
Who does Jesus reject? If He came today and shared this message, what groups would He call out and say….YOU _______________ have been labeled and kept on the outside….YOU I want to invite in?
How do we do this to others?
How do we do this to ourselves?
There is a gap between how Jesus looks at people including us and how we look at people including ourselves. How do we close that gap? How does our thinking become more like His? This is where we grow. This is where we are transformed.
When we see the gap, we pray, we believe, we receive and we repent/change.
What can we do this week to address the gap in our lives, in our thinking?
The Kingdom of God has come. He is inviting us into a new life and a new way of being. Who can come? Who can’t? Who is loved? Who is not? Who can be forgiven? Who cannot? What will you do with this information? What will need to change? How is change possible?