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.
This Sunday concludes the first section in the Gospel of the Kingdom series with a time of “washing” in the Word.
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.