From the beginning, God has always desired to have a distinctive people among creation to properly reflect His rule and reign. His heart has relentlessly been for a “treasured possession,” a “kingdom of priests,” and a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6, 1 Peter 2:9). Years ago, God’s great deliverer, Moses, led the people of Israel out of Egypt and up to a mountain where a covenant was established and God’s will for a Kingdom people was revealed. Unfortunately, due to human sin and brokenness, that community resulted in disobedience and a marred image of God. Many years later, God’s Greater Deliverer, Jesus, also went up a mountain to reveal a new covenant and a new Kingdom manifesto. Known as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7 is the first of the five major narrative sections of Matthew’s gospel and consists of arguably the greatest single collection of the teachings of Jesus. Using powerful words and evocative images, Jesus describes what life looks like for those gathered by and around the King. As the new covenant people of God, the disciples of Jesus are called to be a community of contrast – reflecting a lifestyle and a Savior that is both markedly different and gloriously distinct from the rest of the world. This sermon, and more importantly, this kind of life, illuminates Jesus and His Kingdom Come for the church and, by His grace, for the world.
This Sunday is an interlude in between the Preaching of the King (the Sermon on the Mount) and the People of the king (Matthew 8). Before we move on to the next series on interactions in Matthew's Gospel, we want to seriously consider our response to Jesus. In Matthew 7:28, the crowds responded to the Sermon on Mount with awe and astonishment at the authority of Jesus. What about us? This week, we will take a look at the biblical pattern of praise in the Psalms through analyzing 10 Hebrew words for praise. In doing so, we hope to recapture a response to Jesus and His authority that involves our whole body, whole person and whole life.
To download the Sermon Handout - "10 Hebrew Words for Praise" - click HERE
When was the last time you looked at and inspected the foundation of your apartment or house? Are you sure it has one? Let’s examine the foundation of your life this Sunday. As Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, He brings His message full circle…back to the core questions for His followers: Do you know Who I Am and is your life founded on Me? Jesus uses one parable in His sermon, and it’s at the end. Why is that significant? Come study the finale of the Sermon on the Mount with us, asking Jesus to reveal to you the identity of your foundation and the maturity of your spiritual life.
Have you ever been duped? Conned? Deceived? Have you ever been tricked into a counterfeit version of the real thing? As Jesus closes up the end of the Sermon on the Mount, He issues a real and sobering warning about the true nature of the Kingdom of God. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus explains that it is possible to fall for a version of the God life that is no life at all. Jesus exposes the counterfeits we all face: counterfeit roads, counterfeit guides, and counterfeit spiritual success. May we all have ears to hear what Jesus is saying!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus both teaches His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:7-14) and why to pray (Matthew 7:7-11). This week, as we cover the why that ignites our prayer, we find Jesus emphasizing the character of God. It is only the one who has been confronted with the full character of God who will ever venture into the asking, seeking, and knocking that Jesus invites. Come learn from the Jesus school of prayer that transforms our lives into a passionate pursuit of God.
As we continue moving through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins to teach us about our relationships (specifically what not to do) and the inner-work that needs to be done before we begin to speak into peoples lives. In this passage, He tackles the issue that tends to break trust in significant ways and diminish His love in our relationships: judging.
So often we focus on Easter morning - the early morning hours, the women's sunrise surprise, the angelic announcement, the footrace to the empty tomb. However, as central as those scenes are to our faith, there is something just as spectacular that transpired on Easter evening. After the dust had settled on the chaos of the day, Easter evening is the time when the resurrected Lord appeared to his closest followers and friends. Easter evening is when the reality of the resurrection collided with the pain of his disciples behind locked doors. This is when Jesus' resurrection message is at its loudest and clearest: "Peace be with you." This Easter, we will celebrate Jesus' resurrection message and all its implications for restoring shalom amidst our fear, our shame, and our doubt.
As we continue moving through the Sermon on the Mount, we will be covering a lot of ground as Jesus confronts us with one of the biggest issues that keeps us from participating in the life of the Kingdom, and from experiencing the Joy of the King: Greed and Materialism.
Moving into Matthew chapter 6, Jesus shifts His focus in the Sermon on the Mount to address one of the major obstacles to the Kingdom life: religious performance. And while some may say that there is a fine line between religious performance and true spiritual faith, Jesus reveals that there is actually a massive chasm between the two. Touching on the spiritual practices of giving, praying, and fasting, Jesus exposes the area of God's greatest concern: the motivation of one's heart. Anyone seeking the Father's reward is invited to discover a life motivated and manifested in very different ways.
As the Master Teacher, Jesus continues building His Sermon on the Mount and reaches the zenith of his controversial words. With razor-like precision, Jesus cuts to the heart of Law and speaks about a generous love for one's enemies and those who cause harm. With each example and shocking explanation, Jesus describes a kind of perfect love that few in the world have ever seen or known... a love that challenges humanity on every level. As chapter 5 comes to a close, Jesus paints a picture of a contrast community in every sense of the word. And, as a result, invites His people to a kind of life that goes beyond religion and requires divine intervention. Discover kingdom love at its full dimension.
As we move deeper through Matthew 5, Jesus continues to challenge the accepted spiritual teaching of His day through his repeated "You have heard it said... but I say unto you" statements. This week, we look at His instruction on our promises, commitments, and truthfulness as He tackles the topic of oaths. While the topic of truth-telling may seem culturally insignificant and minor, it stands as central to our lives and journey with God. Being a "Yes and No" people plays a pivotal role in the Kingdom story God is telling in every time and place.
Jesus has pronounced the validity of the Law and has begun to push against the common understanding and application of that Law. This week, we look at two more “You have heard it said…” statements relating to lust and divorce. We find in his words much harsher application of the Law than we can stand and also far more grace than we deserve. As such, we find the fullness of Truth in response to Lies.
Not too far into the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus specifically addresses the role of the Law among the community of God's people. As the One fulfilling not abolishing the Law, Jesus cuts through the faulty interpretation of man to bring out God's intent for His disciples. This week, we will see how Jesus tackles the themes of murder, anger, and relational brokenness. The problem is not so simple. The solution is not imposed. And Jesus' teaching leads us into a way of love that both astounds and woos, clarifying the vocation of the people of God. Jesus' critique, correction and core concerns highlight the beauty of the Kingdom of God.
As we continue deeper into the Sermon on the Mount Jesus broaches a new topic: The Law and its place in the Kingdom of Heaven. When you consider the concept of God’s Law, what is your response? Security? Frustration? Confusion? Despair? As we ponder the words of the text for this week it is my hope that we’ll see the beauty of the Law that has been laid for us as a foundation and likewise see the aspects of the Law that can be laid aside in light of who Jesus is and what He has done.
Moving further into the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clarifies the role of His disciples in this world through two common images: salt and light. As we unpack these familiar metaphors, we will pay attention to the words of Jesus, give heed to His warning, and seek to discover the wisdom of His way. There is a beautiful simplicity in the life of the Christian community that rediscovers her identity and divine calling.
As we officially move into our new Sermon on the Mount series, we begin with Jesus' opening words. Known as the "Beatitudes," this collection of "Blessed are" statements is both well known and often confusing. Instead of just dissecting each word and each phrase, we need to understand Jesus' overall point and purpose for these words. As He articulates the "Kingdom life," we need to see the difference between advice on "how to get in" and a shocking announcement of divine blessing. Then, and only then, do the individual parts make sense in a way that we can receive its good news.
This week we will lay the groundwork for stepping back into this series from the Gospel of Matthew. Then, after a brief introduction, we will actually immerse ourselves in the entire Sermon on the Mount by reading Matthew 5-7 in its entirety out loud. As we both appreciate and analyze the Sermon as a whole, we are better prepared to tackle its individual parts in the months to come. Join us as we listen to Jesus explain life in the Kingdom of God.