Jesus demonstrates more than healing—He proclaims life instead of death, cleanness in the place of uncleanness, and sight into blindness. Each action of Jesus is a free gift of freedom to the captives. His calling to us is, like Him, to follow the Spirit into places of captivity and to proclaim and demonstrate freedom.
Jesus redefined what it meant to be “in” and “out” of the religious system of His day. Everyone is invited! That open invitation changes everything and brings joy instead of mourning… because the work is already completed.
Following the proclamation of Kingdom, Jesus demonstrates the reality of the Kingdom. When we enter into the Kingdom reign of God, we get a glimpse of the true order of Creation. However, more importantly, we get to experience the reality of Jesus Himself.
Jesus saw, moved toward, and touched those around Him. Who do you see?
We all like the idea of authority, especially when it benefits us, but how can we learn to trust in the authority of Jesus? As we continue in the Gospel of the Kingdom series we will see that Matthew encourages us to trust in Jesus authority over nature, over our lives, and ultimately over our eternities.
The gifts of solitude and silence come in many forms. When we are quiet enough to truly meet with God, we find His presence is essential to our pilgrimage. While we can often approach God with a hope to understand more about ourselves, He instead meets us with a declaration of who He is. As we experience the character of God, we find He is enough.
Solitude and silence can reveal some rather dark and difficult things in our hearts. However, this isn't a surprise to God. In the midst of the worst of what our minds and spirits can generate, God meets us, invites our honesty, and reveals our truest self to us. Through this revelation, we're invited to leave behind the solitude and engage the world once again.
Silence and solitude in the "wilderness" was a regular part of the rhythm of Jesus’ life. He began His ministry after emerging from forty days of solitude in the wilderness, and then retreated there again after His first full day. Why? It was in solitude and silence that Jesus found a deep connection with the Father and clarity to His life and ministry. The same is true for us.
Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount by giving us two choices. He warns us, however, that our stated choice isn't always our actual choice. Our lives themselves are often the evidence of the choice we are truly making, which can be a frightening prospect. Thankfully, the beauty of the resurrection is that we can find a solid foundation, a deep relationship, and the ability to bear much fruit through Jesus alone.
Nearing the conclusion of His great Sermon, Jesus points us toward the kind of community that we should experience as we begin to live in the way He has described. In this community, we discern and challenge one another without condemning, we love one another appropriately and generously without capitulating and, most of all, we trust God prayerfully and completely without doubting.
When Jesus speaks of our treasures, He's not simply making a judgment about what we do, or do not, value. Rather, He's pressing into the fundamental structure of our soul. To value things is to be human. Jesus' teaching is a reminder that what we value belies what we trust, and the solidity of what we trust is directly related to either the anxiety or the peace in our hearts.
Jesus leads us into the discipline of secrecy so that we might avoid the trap of seeking the approval of the people around us. However, He's not asking us to make our faith private, thereby violating His earlier call to let our light shine before men. Rather, He is teaching us to live before an audience of One.
This section of the Sermon contains Jesus’ most radical and difficult teaching. Jesus expects that our apprenticeship to Him would include the way that we interact with our personal rights and those who oppose us. He calls us to be the kind of people who will trust God in every situation and, in so doing, be a subversive gospel influence in the world of violence that surrounds us.
In His Kingdom Manifesto, Jesus is teaching us that He has the power and the wisdom to move us beyond the vicious cycles that often control our lives. In affirming the rightness of the Old Testament law, Jesus identifies the underlying patterns that lead us toward sin and then gives us a new way to live, pointing us toward Spirit-transformation. The heart of Jesus is that we are truly free to follow Him.
Jesus begins His manifesto by making a bold statement. Far from listing the status to which we should aspire, Jesus is giving us a list of the least preferable conditions of life in order to deliver this stunning message: Regardless of background or station in life, no one is excluded. Just as there's nothing we can do to earn our place in His Kingdom, Jesus assures us that we won't be disqualified either—all are welcomed.
The call of Jesus to follow Him is not simply a call to a set of teachings or moral principles. It was, and is, a call to turn from anything that stands in the way and to follow Him into a revolutionary movement. It is this understanding that separates His apprentices from the crowds and that propels us to understand what He is teaching us.
Baptism is a fitting response to repentance. It declares who we really are as apprentices of Jesus. So often our identity and worth come from what we've accomplished or how successful we are. However, Jesus shows us how to live out of the already overflowing pleasure of God.
Have you ever taken a look at your walk with Jesus and wanted more? You believe in Jesus, you love Jesus, you even love being with His body, the church... but isn’t there more? You know that you have made the decision to follow Him... but you want to learn to follow Him even more closely. You want to become a passionate follower of Jesus!
: The escape of Jesus' family to Egypt is a brutal reminder of the presence of suffering and injustice in our world, and the return to the Jordan River is a reminder of the sovereignty of God in the midst of that suffering. The path between the two, both in Jesus' day and in ours, is repentance. Injustice and suffering will not remain forever. Jesus has come to point us toward the hope of the Kingdom.
We are always formed by our past experiences, which creates a tension in the way that we hear and process the Gospel. For some, retreat from legalism moves us toward license. For others, the way of Jesus can never be legalism or license. Instead, we are all invited to live by the Spirit so that we might experience the life of Jesus.