NT Connect: Matthew 5:1-12
Weekly Reading: Exodus 21-25
A New Law from the Mountain
It is amazing the detail found within the law of the Old Testament. The command to live life morally and physically separated from the pagan civilizations is evident in nearly every chapter. Exodus 21-25 provides clear examples of these specific laws of moral and physical separation. However, living life in separation from the cultural norms is not only exemplified within the pages of the Old Testament.
Like Moses, Jesus went up on a mountain to deliver a new law, a new teaching, to his people. In arguably the most famous sermon ever preached, Jesus sets up a new standard for how we, as the body of Christ, must live in the world. He begins his sermon with one of the most impactful and profound hooks found in history, the Beatitudes. Speaking directly and personally to his audience by addressing their current socioeconomic, emotional and physical situations, Jesus outlines a wildly counter-cultural way in which to perceive and, therefore, to live within the world.
A profound message can be found within the words of the Beatitudes is: God is on your side! This message was revolutionary for the original audience gathered on the side of the mountain hearing Jesus’ message, and it remains revolutionary for every Christian today. We constantly need to be reminded that God’s initial disposition toward us is not one rooted in any birth-right orientation or hierarchical system but rather one of radically unwavering forgiveness.
The Beatitudes provide us an unprecedented glance into the politics and procedures of the Kingdom of God, which is central in the teachings of Jesus. Rather than viewing the Beatitudes as merely an abridged list for behavioral analysis, our world truly begins to change when we, the Church, begin to see that the Beatitudes as a preamble to the Sermon on the Mount taught publicly by our now reigning King, Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God with us.
The Beatitudes prompt us to rethink everything. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once preached a sermon on The Beatitudes in which he proclaimed, “Not what I have, but what I have not, is the first point of contact, between my soul and God.”
The Beatitudes, as translated by the late Eugene H. Peterson, in The Message is the most thought-provoking translation I have read. I encourage you to read this rendition, and remember this good news: God is on your side!