The Beatitudes

For thousands of years, the people of Israel oriented their lives around the way of Yaweh, called the Torah. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai he carries with him 10 laws (or commandments) that will help shape the newly freed slaves of Egypt into a nation God intends to be a blessing to all nations. Over time, those 10 laws become 613 as the Jewish people commit themselves to living a clean and holy life as Yahweh commanded. 

This is the context in which Jesus enters the picture. In the first teaching of the first gospel (Matthew), Jesus goes up to a mountain side with a handful of his disciples and introduces a teaching that has been talked about for thousands of years since, the Sermon on the Mount. 

When Jesus gathers his disciples together, he begins to teach what they had been taught for a lifetime in a completely new way. Jesus was moving the focus from doing to being. Laws are great for a good number of reasons. They help keep us organized as a community and create boundaries for behavior. But laws are disconnected from the heart and Jesus was going to re-oriented that way of legalized living toward heart connection with God and others. 

Jesus begins this revolutionary teaching with the Beatitudes (Mark 5: 3-12). A beatitude is a blessing, but also more than that. When the bible was being translated in the early church from Greek to Latin, St. Jerome chose the word “beati” which more accurately means “happy” or even “rich”. So, when Jesus says to his disciples, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” we can translate that to “You are rich when you’re at the end of your rope.” This is of course counterintuitive. Nobody feels rich when they’re down. But such is the way of Jesus. 

For the next six weeks we will be walking through this incredible piece of scripture together on Sundays and in community groups. If we do this right together, this teaching of Jesus should challenge the way we see God, ourselves, and the world around us. Like the people of Israel we might be confused or even disoriented by Jesus words, but Jesus doesn’t leave us in the dark. His life is a living example of the sermon he gave on the mountain side. We only need to show up with an open heart, a curious mind, and a surrendered spirit to allow God to begin the renovation inside of us from doing things for God to being the people of God.   

Blog

Study Guide – Matthew 5:6-8; 22:36-40; James 2:12-13

Righteousness and Mercy

Righteousness

Righteousness is a theme throughout all of scripture that starts in the old testament Torah (the first five books of the bible) as instructions from God on how His newly formed people, Israel, are to live in the world. For generations, the Torah was looked on as a collection of laws to be followed in order to be righteous, meaning to be in right standing with God. But Jesus comes and resets our understanding of God’s law for righteousness. In Matthew 22: 36-40, Jesus explains that all of the law and the prophet’s hangs on these two commandments: Love God and Love others.

Jesus cares so much about the righteousness of His people that when he gives the sermon on the mount to his disciples he says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. Jesus talked to a lot of physically hungry people in His time on earth and its not hard to imagine that the disciple’s bellies might have been rumbling as they listened to this message which makes it a compelling illustration. We know when our bellies are empty because its uncomfortable and in the most dire situations hunger will drive us to do nearly anything necessary to survive. This is the kind of emphatic pursuit Jesus is calling us to in terms of righteousness.

What might we, as Jesus followers’, hunger for other than righteousness?

Mercy

Additionally, Mercy is a characteristic that should be found in abundance amongst followers of Jesus, if for no other reason that in Christ we have received mercy from God. We are reminded how serious we are to extend mercy by James:

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement.” (James 2:12-13)

Sit with that thought for a moment, “Mercy triumphs over judgement”. What a juxtaposition to our world right now. Often mercy is considered a weakness, or at best a way of being “nice”. But Jesus definition moves beyond our niceties and compels us to be the kind of people who extend as much mercy as we have received. If we really believe Jesus has given us new life in the great gift of His crucifixion and resurrection, shouldn’t we be the most merciful people on the planet?

What are the characteristics of a merciful community? Have you experienced mercy from another person? Share that with your Home Church.

Pray together that we, the Church, would be people who live righteously and love mercy as a lived testimony of Jesus love to the world.

Video

February 1st – March 7th

Westside Church Daily Devotions

Each day, Monday-Thursday, one of our teaching pastors will be presenting a video devotional on the day’s reading.

Pt 1: Jesus as the New David

The Bible Project – Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount uses lots of Kingdom language. For the audience that Jesus is talking to at the Sermon on the Mount, it would have been nearly impossible to not think of David when any reference to Kings is talked about in reference to Israel. Watch this video and read this blog to see how Jesus is revealing himself as the new King from the line of David and why it matters.

Joe Boyd

The Beatitudes

In this eight part series, Joe Boyd shares his perspective on the Beatitudes, as found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He examines each statement, breaking down what Jesus teaches about what it looks like to be in the kingdom of God. Joe explains how in each statement Jesus illustrates how a kingdom community looks like. How can we make these statements true in our own lives and in our communities? What is God asking of us through the Beatitudes?

Access this 8 part series through your free Westside RightNow Media account

Books

A Beginners Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine

Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, contains some of Jesus most profound and most memorable teachings. What might these teachings have mean to his disciples, and to the others who first heard them? How do they enhance our reading of the rest of the Gospel of Matthew, and how do they speak across the centuries to listeners today? How, if we pay careful attention to his words, does Jesus provide us a road map to living as God would have us live?

In Sermon on the Mount: A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine introduces the major topics in the Sermon on the Mount, explains historical and theological contexts, and shows how the words of Jesus echo his Jewish tradition and speak forward to reach hearts and minds today.

40 Daily Readings of the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine

Toward the Kingdom of Heaven

This collection of 40 daily readings is drawn from Amy-Jill Levine’s teachings on the Sermon on the Mount. Containing additional stories, insights, and lessons from the author, the reader further illuminates the wisdom of Jesus’ most famous sermon.

By Jonathan Pennington

The Sermon on the Mount & Human Flourishing

In this volume, a recognized expert on the Gospels shows that the Sermon on the Mount offers a clear window into understanding God’s work in Christ. Jonathan Pennington provides a historical, theological, and literary commentary on the Sermon and explains how this text offers insight into God’s plan for human flourishing. As Pennington explores the literary dimensions and theological themes of this famous passage, he situates the Sermon in dialogue with the Jewish and Greek virtue traditions and the philosophical-theological question of human flourishing. He also relates the Sermon’s theological themes to contemporary issues such as ethics, philosophy, and economics.