Sunday, January 22, 2023

Posted on Jan 18 2023

Bible Background: In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ standout teaching is summarized in the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7). We need not assume that this was all one ‘sermon’! That would be a lot of content! Moses went up on the mountaintop and brought down God’s teaching-the commandments. Matthews portrays Jesus as the ‘new’ Moses, bringing God’s word and reapplying the commandments. This set of teachings is addressed to Jesus’ disciples-in-training.

Digging Deeper: 1. Matthew 5:1-12 is given the nickname “The Beatitudes”. That name comes from a Latin word for “happiness” or “blessedness.” Jesus pronounces 8 unexpected blessings on groups of people. Which blessing sounds most surprising to you? Which sounds most appealing? Least appeaing?

2. Some of these blessings create a reversal of fortunes. The meek inherit the earth. Those who mourn are comforted. There is a future sense to this. There is also a present sense. Could Jesus be inviting us to imagine that God’s ways and God’s blessings upend the way things are in the world? What if people were suprised to discover such blessings now (rather than have to wait for them in heaven)?

3. Jesus is offering blessing to people we might not usually connect with being blessed. His words beg the question: What does it mean to be happy or blessed? Where can we find such happiness or blessing? what part do we have in distributing happiness or blessing from God?

4. Some of those Jesus declares to be blessed can choose their path: People can choose to be merciful. We can choose to be peacemakers. Some of those Jesus declares to be blessed are not choosing that route: they may be “meek” because of life’s circumstances and status. They may be “persecuted” just for being who God made them to be. Most of us don’t choose to be in mourning. Which of these blessings would you choose-if you could? Which word of blessing do you need most at this point in life?

5. We read these words to hear again the good news of how God has a way of blessing God’s own, even if life or the world is not kind to them. Who do you know that needs to hear a word of blessing? Find a way to extend God’s blessing to them!