Sunday, April 12, 2015

100 Days on Jesus’ Sermon Mount (Day 98)

BEATITUDES are, of a sense, the righteousness and justice of God working in the favour of the godly. If anyone deserves the favour of God it’s the godly of the Beatitudes. And the Sermon on the Mount — in Matthew, chapters 5-7 — is not only started by the Beatitudes, the whole Sermon calls us back to the heart of the Beatitudes. This is because any serious believer, in asking how to obey the Sermon, will find the heart of the person of the Beatitudes as their way to do just that.
Here are the Beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5, verses 3-12:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
How rare is it that the person of the Beatitudes is known? Such Kingdom reversals so rarely take place. So very rarely do people obey to such a sufficient sense for surrender that they become one out the Beatitudes.
The Kingdom life is a reversal. The first are last, the last are first. The master is slave of all. The one who seems most hard done by stands to be most blessed. And the true one of God succumbs to human calumny — theirs, in that moment, is the very definition of love.
The peculiar is the differentiation of love — to love our enemies with such an unconquerable love they are confounded by it (not that we want them confounded, but, that which it is, confounded). We show those who love us no special favour, for we save such efforts of effectual love for those who truly need it.
Those of the Beatitudes are the perfect of Matthew 5:48 — the summing up of the entire chapter. They have exceeded and surpassed the legalist’s ‘love’ of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (Matthew 5:20).
Those of the Beatitudes represent the purest form of human love turned holy.
They have submitted in an interminable sense to the grace which overcomes, and hence overcomes their world through them.
Such a submission enrols them to love in all its glorified perfection — which is, in sum, the love of the cross.
The heart of Jesus’ teaching is the Sermon on the Mount, the soul of which are the Beatitudes—the love unconquerable; the love of all loves; the love of the cross.
1.     Can you love your enemy? Who could your ‘enemy’ be? How is your love to transcend the ordinary love of the world that loves those who love you?
2.     What is so alluring about the cross — the greatest sanctification of love, ever? Yet, also, why is the cross so offensive to the world?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

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