By confronting the practice of the Sabbath, Jesus is a making an even more profound statement. He is showing Himself to be greater than all of the practices of Judaism and fulfillment of the promises of God—He declares Himself to be the Christ! This revelation must either draw us to Him or repel us from Him.
We go to the mountain top to gain what we need for coming down, because we cannot stay on top of the mountain. What we gain on the mountain we need in order to live in the grind of daily life with Jesus.
The message of Jesus is a mystery. Hidden but revealed. Inclusive but exclusive. Restful work. Paid in full but costing us everything. Only when we relinquish our control and take on the lifestyle of Jesus can we understand the secret of His easy yoke.
Jesus modeled for us spending time with people who don't know Jesus and having an ever-broadening circle of connection that will always include people that are far from Christ.
Jesus modeled the perfect balance of grace and truth—He was accepting of everyone without approving of everything. We often find ourselves pulled between the extremes of isolationism and intolerance or universalism and approval, but the Kingdom of God should be a place where people can find acceptance while being challenged to live differently in light of the grace of Jesus.
The natural outflow of grace is a fundamental reorientation of the world around us. We have been united at the cross, and the reconciliation that we've received from Jesus should create reconciliation in every area of our lives. In a world that is increasingly polarized, the call of the believer is to expand our tables to include those who look, think and act differently than we do. This is the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God only comes with violence. Adding Jesus into the flow of our lives, even as our top priority, is not an option that has been left open to us. When we engage the real Jesus, our lives will never be the same. He impacts the way that we see the church, the way that we engage the world, and the way we live our lives.
In the sending of the Twelve, Jesus shows us how we are to engage the world around us. He gives us authority and commands us to give generously and freely, to have no fear even in persecution, and to steadily pursue an eternal reward. Being sent by Jesus impacts every area of our lives.
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.