A Small Crowd (a lesson in oxymorons)

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Let’s just set the stage for a moment, shall we?! Last week, we read Matthew 5:1-2 and watched as Jesus headed up the hillside near Capernaum, sat down, and called His disciples close.  Can you imagine how excited they must have been, wondering what He was about to say…

And then, Rabbi Jesus sits! In keeping with Jewish tradition, the Rabbi sits in order to signal that his teaching is about to begin. And, of course, His disciples understand and settle in for a lesson. And what a lesson it is!

Jesus gives His inaugural address to His cabinet – His closest advisors. A small crowd.  This is His State of the Union (or in this case, State of the Heart) address. Remember, we are standing at pretty much Day One of Jesus’ formal earthly ministry here, so He’s setting the tone – His purpose – for His being here.

Shell heart on rocky beach

The Beatitudes express the innermost beliefs of Jesus. The conditions He states are an inevitable part of growing and becoming more Christlike, and the blessing portions are His promises that He will express His life through you. They are not a reward for a specific behavior, but a condition of the heart that creates positive change in our relationship with heaven.

At first reading, the Beatitudes feel like a list of oxymorons. But what do we expect from a man – yet also our God – who literally personifies that term?

Jesus worked on the Sabbath, loved the unlovable and saved the condemned. He brought peace to the chaos, food for the famine, and true worth to the unworthy. He lives even though He died.

“Jesus died to get you into heaven. But He lives to get heaven into you.” Jennifer Dean Kennedy

The Beatitudes are indeed oxymoronic! As Max Lucado calls them, they are a “sacred delight” – “sacred” because they are holy, “delight” because they are sweetly unexpected. In other words, we have a God who loves to give us things we don’t even have the capacity to imagine. How awesome is that?!

Jesus’ pupils, that precious ragtag band of disciples, were probably well versed in Old Testament law and no doubt understood the shift in feeling between two different list of “rules”: The Ten Commandments and The Beatitudes. The difference?

baby daisies

Grace.

Because “grace” was now here. “Grace” could now explain. “Grace” could now personify the law and wrap it up in love and mercy and, well, grace. God had not (and never has) changed His mind on what was important and how we should strive to comport ourselves. But the one thing that had changed was that grace was now in the building, bringing with Him a NEW Kingdom covenant.

And so we begin. With grace. Because grace is a condition of the heart, grounded in the fact that Christ is within you, that brings blessing. Blessedness is far more than happiness; happiness is conditional on circumstances whereas blessedness exists in spite of circumstances.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 5:3

That word “poor” is translated from a Greek word that means “destitute”, as in “unable to provide anything for yourself and being completely reliant on someone else to supply what you need”. If we look at that from a spiritual standpoint, Jesus is pointing out that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who realize they cannot provide for themselves spiritually – they need Jesus and the grace only HE offers. In other words, they admit the need for Him as savior and the redeemer of their sin.

Being poor in spirit, Beatitude-wise, means to be humble enough to empty ourselves of pride and self-sufficiency, spiritually speaking. It means to admit your utter reliance on Jesus and his life-giving grace to put you in right standing with Him. It means admitting you don’t have the power to save yourself and that it’s not about doing good works or keeping up appearances. It’s about total surrender to Christ! And sometimes that leaves us feeling pretty helpless. But that’s exactly what God is looking for!

God is not waiting for you to prove to Him that you can be strong. Instead, He’s waiting on you to admit that you’re weak.

“For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”  Matthew 9:12-13, New Living Translation (NLT)

Those who think they are perfect and believe themselves to be pious don’t see the need for a savior. But a self-proclaimed sinner knows better.  Christianity isn’t a do-it-yourself religion.  Want proof?  Read Matthew 16:24-26 from The Message. AMEN?

Get out of the driver’s seat and find yourself driving right to heaven.  That’s an awfully good oxymoron 😉 (see what I did there – two in a row?!?).

Following along with us in this be blessed series?!  If so, click here for your homework this week.  Scroll down to Week 2 and hit the link!  You can print it up or just write your answers in a journal.

Liking our song list for this series?!  Take a look and listen at this week’s song: The Unmaking, by Nichole Nordeman!  Sooooo good.  I especially love when she sings, “Sitting in the rubble, I can finally see the  stars…”  Yes.  Sometimes we need a good remaking to get the blessing, don’t we?!

Have a great week, sweet friends!

Peace, Love, and JOY!

Wendie

Up Next Week:  Mourning as a blessing – now that’s REALLY an oxymoron…

 

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