January 29, 2017 – Matthew 5:1-12 – “The Blessed One”

In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

God’s Kingdom

 

Each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we say these words, “Thy kingdom come.” When John the Baptizer began his ministry of preparing the way of the Lord he said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus spoke the same words as he began his ministry, “The kingdom of heaven is as hand.”

 

The people of Israel knew about earthly kings and kingdoms. They had been in slavery in Egypt and in captivity in Babylon. Now they were ruled from far away in Rome. These times were not the best of times but they had the memory of a better time.

 

They had once been a kingdom of their own. The Lord had brought them to a land where he bless their nation. They built a beautiful city called Jerusalem with a beautiful temple. They remembered with fondness King David and King Solomon who had ruled in times of peace and prosperity.

 

Teach Us

 

What does Jesus mean when he says we should pray, “Thy kingdom come.” What did John and Jesus mean when they said, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What is the significance of saying, “teach us to pray” before we join together in praying the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Unless God reveals to us the uniqueness of his kingdom and his kingship, our minds will make up a king and kingdom according to our own desires. As we heard from the book of Micah we would wonder how to approach the King. We would wonder if we could bring enough sacrifices to buy a place in his kingdom.

 

Saint Paul warns us that we would rely on our own wisdom, a wisdom according to earthly standards. We would approach the king of heaven and earth boasting of our accomplishments. So we must learn from God himself what his kingdom is about.

 

Jesus As Teacher

 

When Jesus came into the world he taught about a kingdom much greater than any earthly kingdom. He not only taught about the kingdom of heaven, but he brought that kingdom to earth. In flesh and blood the kingdom of heaven was present walking the roads and streets of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

 

The King of kings came to redeem the world from its enemies of sin and death. Unlike earthly kings this king came to serve and not to be served. He came to take away guilt and shame. This king came to bring healing and peace as he tears down the barrier between God and all creation.

 

Blessings Now

 

The apostle Matthew recorded the words of Jesus has he described what it is like to live in God’s kingdom. Jesus describes the kingdom that he brings to the world. He brings a kingdom of blessings that comes from God’s mercy and grace. Jesus brings the compassion of God into the world.

 

Jesus describes his kingdom as one where he blesses his disciples now. We are powerless to overcome sin. We join with the world in building golden calves to worship and turning our back on our neighbors. It is for all of us that Jesus came into the world.

 

When his law crushes us and leaves our spirit hopeless, Jesus says to us, “I have come to bless you, to save you from your sin.” His blessing is “to redeem you from Satan’s kingdom. Jesus blesses you with daily forgiveness. Each day for the sake of Christ the Father declares you a righteous child in his kingdom. The Father’s will is that you be at peace with him and with all who believe.

 

When you confess to the world that Jesus came to save you from your sins it will laugh at you and ridicule you. Then too Jesus will say to you, “Fear not for you are in my kingdom and I am with you.”

 

He will comfort you with the knowledge that you were claimed as a member of his kingdom in your baptism.   Jesus will strengthen and preserve you with his body and blood until you are freed forever from this world. These are daily blessings that say to you, “your sins are forgiven.”

 

Jesus also came to transform you into a new creation. Through his Holy Spirit and His Word, he changes you to be pure in heart, merciful, and a peacemaker. This is not your sinful human nature but it is who God is making you to be. In his kingdom you are being blessed so that you might be a blessing in this world.

 

This is a continual transforming of your life. There will be days when you wonder if God is at work at all because your sin overwhelms you. Then it is time to pray, “forgive us our trespasses” with the confidence that it is God’s will be keep you in his kingdom as a forgiven child.

 

Blessings Then

 

Jesus tells you that you are blessed now. He also says that for a while there are some blessings of the kingdom that will have to wait. We mourn the evil all around us and our part in it. We are meek lowly creatures who keep wondering what we must do to inherit eternal life even when told it is a gift. We hunger and thirst to be the perfect child of God and fall short.

 

We wish that in every way all the blessings of God’s kingdom would be ours today. We do not understand why we must wait, why we must struggle and suffer even for a little while.

 

I wish I could give a perfect answer about why some of the blessings are ours today and why some are wrapped up in a promise that says they shall be ours at the last. I only can turn to the words of Jesus.

 

Jesus answers us by calling us to continue to pray, “Thy will be done” and to trust that the will of God is good and gracious. He calls us to see what he has done for us. He came with compassion and did not return until the Father’s will for our salvation was accomplished.

 

Jesus came for the sake of the world, even for those who hated and murdered him. He came for us when our love for him is only half-heartedly and our repentance is weak. Jesus came to stop evil, to stop poverty, to end disease, hunger, mourning, shame, and loneliness.

 

Jesus became unclean, a curse, sin, and guilty so that God’s kingdom is yours. He was obsessed with mercy as he loved his neighbor as himself. This compassion for you is beyond all earthly wisdom. Christ crucified is foolishness to the world but to you it is the good news that God blesses you, saves you, redeems you, comforts you, strengthens you, keeps you in the one true faith, and promise you every blessing.

 

Jesus alone is the source of your new life and your place in the kingdom of God. He is the source of your righteousness before God and the source of your life lived for your neighbor.

 

 

In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

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