In chapter 4, Jesus began his ministry. Now Matthew relates to us the first recorded sermon of Jesus. Known as the "Sermon on the Mount", it contains some of his most famous teaching and spans three chapters. The first 12 verses of chapter 5 are known as the Beatitudes and show the revolutionary nature of God's kingdom. Jesus is introducing a new way of life and the values of the Kingdom of God which are upside-down from the values of typical human society. Instead of being blessed when you are rich, happy, proud and full... Jesus says that those who enter the kingdom poor, mourning, meek and hungry will be blessed by God. The life of a follower of Christ is modeled after the life of our Lord Jesus. This counter-cultural life style runs against the grain of normal human expectations. We are called to be merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers. When was the last time those values landed someone on the front page of a major magazine? But they are precious to God because they show that we value Him and His kingdom more than human approval. Even being persecuted for righteousness sake is regarded as being a token of our connection to Jesus.
Jesus' next movement is to call his followers to be "salt" and "light" in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Both of these pictures highlight the manner in which Christians are to live differently. But it is important that we don't separate this from the beatitudes immediately before it. We will be salt and light - only to the degree that we embody the upside-down values of the kingdom of God. Our light will shine in our mercy, purity, and peacemaking. We will shine when we are meek, and mourning, hungry and poor. And we will shine we we endure suffering for righteousness sake.
Do you value these qualities the way that God does? Can they be seen in you by those around you? -MK