Lessons from the Mountainside: 1

In our Friday Focus times together, we’ve heard Jesus teaching his disciples. These words, found in the gospel of John were spoken to the few. They were intimate times, with hard-to-understand commands. From there we traveled even further back in time to better understand this man who came as the Suffering Servant to make straight the way of salvation to all.

Today, we’re returning to the public life of Jesus on this earth and listening to him along with the crowds. Some saw him as the Son of Man or Messiah, while others were simply curious and drawn to him by the miracles he performed. On the edges were the skeptics and even hostile individuals, who wanted nothing but to see him go away.

As you sit on the mountainside with Jesus, I don’t know what’s in your heart, but it is my prayer that in diving deep into the words of the most famous of sermons, you will be drawn to the speaker who shows you the way to build your life and eternity on the solid rock.

Let’s begin:

When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

Matthew 5:1-3 CSB

People had been following Jesus, as he traveled throughout the region of Galilee. They were drawn to him by the good news he shared of the Kingdom of God and by the miracles. Snippets of teaching and healings were not enough, however, to make firm believers out of the crowd. Now, on this mountain, he saw an opportunity and took it to pour an amazing amount of teaching into a huge population of the region. We don’t see him do this in such a concentrated way in the remainder of his three years of ministry. He may have even used some of the same material with the thousands he would later miraculously feed, but here we have the teaching as a whole unit, and it is a treasure.

I like how Matthew points out that, even with the crowds in his sight, it was his disciples who came to him—who drew near to Jesus. They would always have the front-row seat to his teaching and be the first to share it post Pentecost.

Looking again at the crowd, Jesus begins sharing a list of blessings. I’ve heard many a sermon on these verses and read even more explanations, but I sense the best relate to the idea that Jesus is telling his disciples and the multitude that the kingdom of heaven has been made available to all.

Even the poor in spirit are blessed because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

You may feel unworthy, humiliated, guilty, and even full of shame, but no spirit is too poor to take part in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus will show them and shows us that through his death, resurrection, and ascension, all can gain access to God.

Jesus was confirming what the prophet Micah had foretold:

Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 CSB

Are you feeling unworthy of God’s love? You should! None of us are worthy, but few of us have the spirit of humility to match our true state of being. Jesus wants you to know that if you are poor in spirit, you can find fullness of his Spirit by coming as you are in faith to Christ.

How much quicker is it for the one who already knows he is nothing to be made right with God than the one who thinks he’s something and has no need for a savior.

Blessed are you, who are poor in spirit.

Do you have a friend who needs to hear that message today? Share the good news of the Kingdom that is theirs for the taking!

Grace and Peace

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