Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 16), (Isaiah 60), (Matthew 5)
Today we read what is generally referred to as ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ in Matthew ch. 5. Years ago we saw a film depicting this – and it was quite wrong – for it showed Jesus giving the message to a vast crowd of people. The end of ch. 4 describes “great crowds” that “followed him” but, then we read, “seeing the crowds he went up on the mountain , and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them …”
This teaching begins, “Blessed are the poor (lowly, humble) in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” The very opposite to the spirit of mind nearly all the Pharisees and lawyers showed; Jesus is going to have many verbal clashes with them in the next 3 or so years. He speaks of “the kingdom of heaven” not the kingdom in heaven. We wait for a heavenly kingdom to come on earth – to replace all earthly minded rulers, none of whom really believe in the true God. The very last question his disciples asked him was “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel” [Acts 1 v.6] causing him to tell them that his message had to be taken “to the end of the earth” first, and it was not for them (or us) to know the time of his return. Today the Bible is reaching all the remotest nations.
“Blessed are the meek (gentle-minded) for they shall inherit the earth” [v.5] not heaven. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.” [v.6] This world needs more than ever for God’s kingdom to be established, there is a great hunger and thirst for all fleshly things today. Jesus told his disciples, “You are the light of the world” [v.14] and so they became and the light spread out and pagans became believers and Christ’s message was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Sadly, in the process, it became increasingly corrupted, just like the Jewish teachers had corrupted the message God gave through Moses and the prophets.
At the end of one of his parables, that of the persistent widow, Jesus asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth” [Luke 18 v.8] He does not give the answer – that is left for us to answer – what is your answer?