Matthew 5:1-12 (2017)
Micah 6:1-8 Psalm 15 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Last week I talked about knowing your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. My questions were – do we know Jesus personally, and if so, do we want to follow him?
Over the next 4 weeks our Gospel readings are based around different parts of the Sermon on the Mount. These readings are all about discipleship – or again – our relationship with Jesus Christ – who is Lord.
And so today we have heard the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount
Which are in so many ways identifiers of discipleship; they are the characteristics of the faithful; they are attributes of all believers. They are truth-telling in that they name our blessings but they also identify what is at stake in these blessings.
That is why this sermon had to be preached to the disciples at this point in time prior to their wanting to follow Jesus – and they apply to us also.
The disciples and all disciples to come”, which includes you and I, have to know who they are, in order to be able hear the rest of what Jesus has to say about who he needs them and us to be.
This first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes – has to be delivered at this point so that the Great Commission, the sending out aspect of discipleship, of following Jesus, of saying yes to Jesus can actually happen, and come to fruition.
And the biggest, loudest and the most important part of today’s reading is that we, you and I and all those who say yes to Jesus – are blessed.
In last week’s message I said to you that the main point of it, was that Jesus called you and I – not because we believed in Him – but because he believed, and still believes in us!
You have to hear that and understand that point prior to hearing the beatitudes, – that God believes in you and me.
And note that being blessed is not just for the sake of potential joy, but also for the sake of making it through that which will be difficult.
Again, these are Jesus’ first words to his disciples. We need to hear in each and every one of the Beatitudes what’s at stake for Jesus and for his ministry.
What this part of the Gospel states is that the people of Gods Kingdom, those who are called and to those who want to grow, or move forward in that calling are called to put God first – in their motives and their actions, in their business and their language, in their thought life and their priorities of and in life.
All life comes under his royal control. And when we manage to put God first – then we become blessed or as some translations put it – happy.
Serving God, following God, therefore is about being happy, blessed and joyful.
When we look more carefully at the beatitudes – which is part of the scriptures we often can remember, we can see the demands placed upon us and how very challenging they are, especially when it comes to being fulfilled in life.
Today I’m only scratching at the surface of these verses from the beatitudes, and I’m only really focusing on verse 6 – Blessed, or Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, righteousness meaning of course – to be put right with God. And I’m choosing this aspect because for me the very first point of believing in Jesus Christ as Lord – is our need to ask for his forgiveness and more importantly – knowing we are forgiven – my story – got on my knees and simply said – sorry.
And this being put right with God is a challenge to us because the world we live in, the culture we live in, has an underlying philosophy that says that life is about people wanting to be happy, and there is an element of truth in that, but being falsely happy in the things around us. What the world has done is to reinterpret this being happy to what we call today “feeling good”
Feeling good about:
- Your job
- Your marriage
- Your house
- Your sport
- Your lifestyle and so on.
In the pursuit of feeling good, of being happy, we have devised false schemes to help us do just that. Some of those false schemes we have invented that we believe bring happiness are; the accumulation and pursuit of lots of money and stuff that will supposedly make me happy. Instead of happiness this usually turns into work holism, greed and envy of what others have that I don’t have – yet.
Another false scheme is that we can believe the expectation that relationships with other people will make us happy.
Instead of happiness this often turns into disappointment as we are let down and rejected. With some people it becomes a string of unhappy relationships in the search for somebody who can give them what only God can give in a relationship.
Another false scheme is that we hunt for happiness in and through indulgent activities, called pleasure –food, music, culture, sport, and leisure activities in general. Again these things are not wrong in themselves but it’s the order of these things in our relationship with Christ that gives balance.
Even Solomon the wisest man apart from Jesus that ever lived said he had tried all these and nothing worked.
Mick Jagger – at the other end of the wisdom scale from Solomon – sang “I don’t get no satisfaction”.
The notion that these things will bring us happiness is a wrong as the teachers of the law, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, having the notion that keeping a list of religious regulations would get you right with God.
However the Pharisees did have one thing they had got right in their philosophy and that was, in order for you and me to have lasting happiness we needed to be right with God.
There is something about the construction of the language here in these verses on the beatitudes that allow us to know that this being right with God is a guarantee of certainty.
People who hunger and thirst physically can be filled with bread and water, the basic foods – but they will be hungry and thirsty again.
What Jesus says is that if I really want to be right with God, then I will be satisfied – eternally.
When we discover that God exists, that he is holy and that we desire to be like him – then we are ready to take the first step in real happiness.
The main point being, that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled.
If I hunger and thirst after righteousness it means that I recognise there is something better in life than what I have now and I want whatever that is. Hunger and thirst are uncontrollable desires – they are the most basic instincts and are so strong that they cause people to do things they would not normally do.
Jesus says that if we really hunger and thirst to be right with God – that if we want it so bad then we should be able to already taste it – then we will be filled.
Let us Pray.
Lord may we taste that righteousness that allows us to truly follow you and please help us to discern those things that the world says makes us happy and let them go – so that we can truly be blessed and follow you – more easily.