Good morning and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. My name is Alan and it is a privilege and a pleasure to open the Bible with you each morning – or whenever you listen. My hope is that as we read and reflect on the scriptures, that you will hear God’s voice, his gentle whisper, speaking to the core of your being. That together we will be touched and changed by his love, his undeserved, his unearned grace and favour. In short, that God will show up and do what only he can do.
Yesterday we saw Jesus begin his public ministry by calling some fishermen. We discovered Jesus’ grace filled invitation to us to come, to be enabled, to be shaped and changed into men and women of the kingdom.
Jesus calls his disciples and then it all kicks off! Jesus proclaims the good news of the kingdom. He heals every disease and illness, those in pain, those demon-possessed, the paralysed… those having seizures. Everyone is healed – no-one is excluded.
Word begins to spread and large crowds… massive crowds of broken people begin to gather.
So Jesus heads up a mountainside, he sits down… and he begins to teach… Matthew Chapter 5 v 3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
BOOM! The earth shakes, the heavens roar, the very fabric of society quakes at the sound of his voice. This statement alone is shocking, scandalous… this is outrageous… NO, this cannot be true.
The broken, the despised, the rotten, the sick, the twisted, the mutilated, the maimed, the mentally unstable, the beggars, the cursed… those on the margins of society, those shunned, those excluded, those discriminated against… the dregs, the scum of the world, those without a place, those at the very bottom and rejected by the mainstream…
Jesus calls them Blessed! Blessed! Blessed!
Those, who in the worlds eyes are furthest from God, seemingly stricken by him, seemingly overlooked by him, even seemingly judged and punished by him…
Blessed! Blessed! Blessed!
You see, when Jesus opens his mouth and begins to speak, he is not revealing to us another way to worm our way into the kingdom of God. He’s not outlining a 5 point plan how to get into God’s good books: make yourself poor in spirit – be blessed! Mourn… be blessed! No, Jesus has come to tear down the old ways, the old thoughts of who’s in and who’s out. Who is included, who is not good enough… He has come to destroy the notion of acceptability, of who has access, of who makes it onto the guest list, of who is worthy.
You came for healing… and God has been pleased to lavish his love, his grace, his favour, his blessing, his power on you. He healed you, all of you, without exception. The kingdom of God is at hand, it’s accessible to you, there is hope!
Blessed are the poor in spirit
The poor –are the bankrupt, the destitute, the beggar, the one who has nothing, the emotionally, the physically, the spiritually… the morally bankrupt
Think about that for a minute… no-one is excluded! The invitation to the kingdom is open to all… the addicts, the adulterers, the abusers, mass murderers, the depraved and perverted, prostitute and the fraudster….
They are all in the crowd. They have all received a touch of God, they have all been recipients of his grace.
Poor in spirit – the spirit… the soul… the centre of who we are… where we suffer… the deepest part… the very core of our being…
Blessed are the crushed, the abused, the cheated, the robbed, the betrayed, the blackest of souls, the most broken and battered.
You see, in God’s kingdom there is no-one who falls outside of God’s blessing… there is no-one exempt, no-one too bad, too fallen, too far gone.
This is the kingdom of God, this is why Jesus came, this is the unfathomable grace of God, this is the power of the cross, the defeat of death, the resurrection of the dead.
The whole of humanity, in all its filthy depraved, destitute, drunken and dirty glory…
Blessed! Blessed! Blessed! In the kingdom of heaven.
So, what do we do with this? Well I think there are two things that God wants to challenge us with:
- our self perception. You know those moments when we look inwards and we see our stuff, our brokenness, our dysfunction, our thoughts… when we become aware that we are not quite as we ought to be. Blessed! Blessed! Blessed! There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. His love is not dependent on our performance.
- our self perception and 2. Our perception of others. Who in our minds have we written off? Who is beyond God’s redemptive touch? Who have we rejected and excluded? Let God open our hearts and minds to those around us. It’s where miracles happen and God’s power is revealed.
Father thank you for the good news of your grace, your love, your mercy and your blessing in our lives. Open our hearts to receive it, to know it and to experience fresh today. And father, open our hearts to those around us. In a world that labels, excludes and rejects others, cause us to welcome the guest and stranger. In Jesus name, amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 5:1-20
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.