[iframe style=”border:none” src=”//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5305824/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/custom/tdest_id/482853/custom-color/1106b9″ height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]
Over the next three weeks, we will be spending all our time on the first 12 verses of Matthew chapter 5. This is the section best known as The Beatitudes. These verses, while well-known and quite familiar to most of us, provide an interesting opening to Jesus’ message. What was Jesus trying to say to His audience? In fact, just exactly who in His audience were these statements aimed at? This opening salvo from Jesus was anything but simplistic and easy to understand. From the outset, He had His listeners scratching their heads and wondering just exactly who He was and what He was talking about. Nine times, Jesus will use the word “blessed.” What did He mean? And how in the world did blessing go hand-in-hand with poverty, mourning, hunger and persecution? And twice Jesus will refer to the kingdom of heaven. Was that the same thing as the kingdom of God? Where would this kingdom reside? Who would be its king? All of these questions, along with many others, would have been swirling in the minds of those sitting on the hillside that day. And the key to understanding all that Jesus will have to say in the rest of His sermon hinges on how we interpret His opening remarks.