Reading through the Bible together
When was the last time you experienced real joy? What brings you real happiness?
Jesus starts His Sermon on the Mount with a list of happiness statements. Try to read these verses substituting the word “blessed” with the word “happy.” How can you explain this: Happy are you if you cry? Happy are you if you are poor? It does not appear to make sense.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was truly radical. When Jesus spoke these words, He turned the political and social world of the Roman Empire and of the Jewish religious elite upside down. The Sermon on the Mount that occupies chapters five, six, and seven in Matthew’s Gospel can be called Jesus’ kingdom manifesto, the intensions of His government. In other words, Jesus is saying, “This is what the kingdom of heaven which has come into this world is all about.”
In His kingdom statements Jesus presents concepts that seem to contradict human nature, but that is exactly why this Sermon is so powerful and so life transforming. It touches the deepest corners of our lives.
In Jesus even our pains, sorrows, and mistreatments can be turned into joy of having Jesus with us. Perhaps, best examples of this are the lives of Jesus’ followers. When Paul and Silas had been severely beaten and thrown into prison, they were singing, praying, and praising God (Acts 16:23-25). The only explanation to their joy was Jesus in their hearts. They understood the true meaning of the Kingdom of God that can be experienced even here on this earth. It is a joy of full dependence on Him and full faith in Him.
Today, the Sermon on the Mount is considered to be the most beautiful statement of Christianity, but it is so difficult to practice. No wonder, Gandhi in his famous lecture in Ceylon in 1927 said, "Much of what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount." In other words, it is a denial of what Jesus said by the way we should live.
Read Matthew 5 again and think about how you can live this Sermon out in your life today.
Host of Cross Connection