This sermon is part of our Inescapable series. Inescapable is a 12 part series that studies the Gospel of Matthew and its messages. You can watch all 12 here.
If you are on social media much these days you will see countless number of self-help tips on how to navigate life. There are tips on how to lose weight, how to gain muscles, how to become an influencer and there are best-selling books that have shaped this type of thinking like Dale Carnegie’s, “How to win friends and influence people.” Napoleon Hill’s, “Think and grow rich.” Norman Peale’s “The power of positive thinking.”
Even more current Roxie Nafousi, “Seven steps to living your best life.” And Jordan Peterson’s, “12 Rules for a better life.” These are all principles on how to live the best life, how to accomplish your goals, and sometimes our passage in Matthew 5 can get lumped into that same category.
Our passage this morning is one of the most popular passages in literature. The passage we are going to study this morning is commonly referred to as “Sermon on the Mount.” There are phrases like “turn the other cheek, let your yes be yes, word is bond (Wu-Tang), eye for an eye” are just a few phrases that have worked their way into our common language today but our passage this morning isn’t catchy phrases. Let’s read Matthew 5, verses 1-2:
Matthew 5:1-2, “1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying”
In Matthew chapters 1-3 we see the verification of Jesus (Genealogy of Jesus, birth of Jesus, John the Baptist preparing the way.). In chapter 4 we see the validation of Jesus (temptation and calling of the disciples.)
In Matthew 5 Jesus gathers the disciples, a crowd of people watching from afar, and like Moses of old Jesus is describing what life looks like in His kingdom on earth. In Matthew 3 John the Baptist calls out, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” In Matthew 4 Jesus calls out, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” And in Matthew 5 Jesus is describing what His kingdom on earth looks like practically.
Listen to me, throughout history people have referred to Matthew 5 for political reasons, philosophical reasons, social ethics of how we treat one another in humanity but you need to know these words aren’t political or philosophical statements.
Jesus has come to set up a new kingdom, a spiritual kingdom and it’s possible this language of kingdom doesn’t resonate because our country is based on democracy but Jesus is the president we always wanted, Jesus is the ruler our hearts long for, Jesus is the king of kings who invites us to live under His reign and His rule, so that verses 3-12 describe what life looks like under His rule. Look at verse 3:
Matthew 5:3, “3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When you see the word, “Blessed” in verse 3 it means to be a people who have received God’s favor. It isn’t being happy because of our circumstances. It isn’t #blessed. It is God’s invitation to live in His kingdom.
Remember Matthew is writing to Jewish men and women in the first century. Israel is living under the oppression of Rome. The spiritual leaders of Israel have led them astray. The people are discouraged; therefore, Jesus is turning to a people who are exhausted by life and saying, “Come to Me.”
The first characteristic we see is the phrase “poor in spirit.” We see a number of characteristics in verses 3-12 but it is important to understand these characteristics aren’t given as a pre-requisite to enter into His kingdom on earth. Matthew 5 isn’t Jesus saying, “If you want to enter into His kingdom on earth you need to be poor in spirit.” These characteristics of life in His kingdom.
It’s why verse 3 uses the present verb tense “is.” Do you see that in verse 3? Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven. Life in Jesus isn’t just when we go to heaven one day. Jesus has come. His kingdom is now! This is what life in His kingdom looks like practically.
Therefore, as we live in His kingdom on earth we are going to be a people who are “poor in spirit.” What does that mean? Sometimes people will say this verse means we should be concerned about the poor. We should be concerned about the poor but this verse is about our need for God. “Poor in spirit” means we believe we are spiritually needy.
Remember, the Jewish man or woman in the first century thought they were already close to God. Israel describes themselves as children of Abraham. Israel describes themselves as the chosen people of God.
And Jesus turns to them and says, “When you live in my kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, you don’t boast of YOUR accomplishments, you don’t boast of YOUR ethnic background, you live as people who are spiritually hungry for the Lord.
When we gather as a church in Austin, we are living as the gathered people of God in His kingdom, therefore, we aren’t bragging about our education, we aren’t looking down on people because of their social or financial standing, we are condescending toward people because of their political opinions. Why? It’s because we are all on the same playing field in Christ, people who are needy for Christ, people who are poor in spirit. Look at verse 4:
Matthew 5:4, “4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
In verse 4 sometimes people want to only apply these words to those who have lost loved ones, which is helpful, but these words aren’t “phrases to use at a funeral.” This is God in the flesh talking about His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, so that while we are in His kingdom we grieve the brokenness of our world.
In our culture in the United States we aren’t familiar with grief. We don’t like to think about pain. We don’t know what to do with pain but God’s Word is teaching us, in His kingdom on earth, we acknowledge the pain and suffering in the world because this isn’t the world He created.
In Genesis 1-2 all of creation is made to be perfect. In Genesis 3 all of humanity falls into sin, so that from Genesis 3 forward we see a world that is broken. When you look at your timeline on social media and you see war, conflict, hatred, abuse, death and destruction; we are to grieve. This isn’t what He created.
It’s not normal to see people hurting one another. It isn’t normal to see marriages falling apart. We don’t know how to cope with pain and tragedy so we say things to ourselves like, “Life sucks, people suck” and God’s Word is teaching us, “Don’t sit in it, bring our griefs to the Lord.
It’s not good to look at the news and see another mass shooting. It’s not good to see people celebrating abortion. It’s not normal. We don’t want to get comfortable with people hurting one another, neglecting children, dehumanizing people, abusing power; these are all areas that we are to grieve.
Even at the personal level. We don’t want to get comfortable with pornography. We don’t’ want to get to a place where people say, “Oh yeah, sometimes people take off their clothes for financial gain.” It’s not normal. We don’t want to get comfortable with laziness, apathy, layers of doubts and insecurity. It’s not good.
This is why Jesus enters into human history. This is why the kingdom of God has come near. This is the comfort in verse 4. Jesus has come to set up His rule. Jesus has come to do what Adam and Eve could not. Jesus has come to live a perfect life. Jesus has come to take our sin at the cross. Jesus has come to break the chains of our bondage through His resurrection, so that we might live in His kingdom and find comfort because we know the world won’t always be broken. Look at verse 5:
Matthew 5:5, “5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Some translations might use the word, “meek” which means as we live in His kingdom on earth, under His reign and rule, we see ourselves as a people who are gentle with one another. Think about that for a second.
When our lives are rooted in pain, rooted in fears and doubt, rooted in comparison with one another then we aren’t going to be very gentle with one another but when our lives are rooted in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, when we are in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, then as a result there is a gentleness that will come upon us.
It is the illustration of the king who is off to battle as you wonder if the enemy will approach compared to the king who is ruling on His throne with the enemy defeated. Does that make sense?
In verse 5 when you see “for they shall inherit the earth” those words are the promise of new heavens and new earth when all of creation is made right. In verse 3 the kingdom IS yours and in verse 5 new creation is to come. Isn’t that good? We mourn the brokenness of the world but we don’t need to fret over the brokenness of the world because one day, very
soon, all will be made right. Isn’t that good? Don’t you want to live in His kingdom? Look at verse 6:
Matthew 5:6, “6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Some of this language is abstract, so lean in with me. Think about it this way. When you are hungry and thirsty how do you respond? You eat and drink! You look for food. You find that Taco Bell and get that Nacho Bell Grande!
But, what happens when you have exhausted all your resources and you are still hungry? Have you ever been in that place in life? Maybe you were under financial strain, maybe you were in the middle of nowhere but what do you do when you are hungry and thirsty without any access to food and water? That’s the context of verse 6.
In verse 6 when we live in His kingdom, our soul’s hunger and thirst for His righteousness, and we know we can’t drum up that righteousness on our own. We know we come with empty hands who are poor in spirit. We know we grieve the absence of His righteousness all over creation. We know we need Someone, outside of ourselves, to give us His righteousness. Our need for Jesus is daily!
Listen to me, even if you reject Jesus, you are still hunger and thirst for His righteousness. When you see the brokenness of the world and you long for justice you are hungry for His righteousness.
When you get discouraged that people have to beg for money at the corner. When you get discouraged that people get judged for the color of their skin. You are bothered by those things because you are hungering for righteousness.
Why? It is because deep down you know life shouldn’t be like this. You know deep down there is a Genesis 1-2 layered in your soul that life shouldn’t be what we see today, so that you get frustrated when life doesn’t work out the way you want.
In verse 6 Jesus says, “In My kingdom, I will give you My righteousness as a gift.” You can’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You just acknowledge that you can’t drum up this righteousness on your own and He will give it to you freely.
Listen to me, this is the good news of Jesus. Jesus has come to give us His righteousness by grace as a gift, therefore, we want to turn to that truth every day throughout the day as followers of Jesus. Look at verse 7:
Matthew 5:7, “7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
First, if we are not careful verse 7 could read like a conditional statement like “when we show mercy, we will receive mercy from God.” Doesn’t it read like that? But, that would completely contradict all of God’s Word.
First, the word “mercy” means to have compassion that leads to action and concern for others. That’s the gospel. Jesus sees our pain, Jesus sees our suffering and Jesus has come.
Jesus steps out of the heavens. Jesus takes on flesh. Jesus draws near to those who are hurting to invite us to live in His kingdom.
Therefore, in verse 7 Jesus is teaching us that when we live in His kingdom on earth we will show mercy toward others because the God of all creation has shown mercy toward you. How could you not?
You see, as long as we think we deserve God’s mercy we will never extend mercy to others, or at best we will discriminate on who we think deserves mercy. We will say, “They didn’t work hard enough. They made their bed, they need to lie in it. They get what they deserve.”
While God’s Word makes it clear that all of humanity comes with empty hands, grieving souls, hungry and thirsty for His righteousness and He invites us to live in His kingdom, therefore, how could not extend His mercy toward others? Look at verse 8:
Matthew 5:8, “8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
When you see the phrase, “pure in heart” again, it could sound like we somehow need to attain a pure heart but that is impossible. The “heart” is mind, body and soul and to be “pure” is to be made clean, blameless, free from any guilt.
There was a time in our lives when we believed humanity was getting better. Do you remember pre-2015? There was a time where humanity was under the impression that if people are educated, prosperous, then people will do better because they know better.
But then we saw all the conflict under President Trump and people said, “Oh, that’s just because of Trump.” But then we saw the pandemic, George Floyd, now we see Israel and Palestine and I am pretty sure we are going backwards.
I am encouraged our country is more engaged in social issues. I am encouraged our corporations are combatting sexual abuse in the work place. I am encouraged there is more visibility when our countries go to war but there is only so much we can accomplish through government, laws, politicians and education.
In verse 8 Jesus is inviting us into His kingdom with new hearts. It is the pure in heart that see God. It is the pure in heart that are ushered into the presence of God. It is the pure in heart that are face to face with the holiness of God. It is the pure in heart that are in awe of God, therefore, we need new hearts.
Do you know how that happens? Do you know how we get new hearts? The bible says we need to repent! We saw the word “repent” in Matthew 3 when John the Baptist says, “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand!”
Then in Matthew 4 we see Jesus turn to the people and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The word “repent” means to turn from going one way emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally and we turn the other direction to follow Jesus.
Repentance is to say in our heart, “I don’t want to trust what I think is right. I want to trust in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. When we trust in Jesus we are entering His kingdom, when we trust in Jesus we are living in His kingdom. You with me?
It isn’t sometimes in His kingdom and sometimes out of His kingdom but through faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, our hearts are made pure, we are made right with God and we are in His kingdom. That’s the invitation.
If you have never trust in Jesus. Do that this morning. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. Receive His righteousness. Respond to His invitation. Enter into His kingdom today. Look at verses 9-11:
Matthew 5:9-11, “9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”
I wanted to put verses 9-11 together, because I think when we see them together it will help us understand how these characteristics work out in our life practically, because it’s possible you could read verses 3-9 and think, “Life in His kingdom is going to be easy living!”
In verse 9 Jesus teaches us we are “peacemakers” which sounds great. We are in His kingdom. We living in peace, speaking peace, all because of the ultimate peace we have in Jesus, fantastic! But in verse 11 Jesus also says, “In His kingdom, we are persecuted, insulted, and will be falsely accused, so that when you read verses 9-11 there is this tension. Do you see that?
It isn’t insulted, persecuted, and falsely accused because you say something obnoxious on Facebook. It is insulted, persecuted and falsely accused because we are followers of Jesus in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I need you to hear that this morning. When you live in His kingdom, when you follow Jesus, there will be persecution.
This year we are focused around the theme “Embolden” and this tension in verses 9-11 lines up with our theme perfectly. People are going to laugh at you for following Jesus. Embrace it! You’re not going to be cool for following Jesus. People at work are going to think you’re foolish.
But Matthew 5 is reminding us, “In Christ, we’re in His kingdom.” There is peace. It isn’t peace because of our circumstances, our finances, our social circle but there is peace that surpasses all understanding because of Christ but there is also persecution. It’s unavoidable.
Right now, we are signing people up for Theological Training and it is a great starting point to help us better understand our life in His kingdom. This training isn’t going to answer all of your questions, but it will help you be prepared to speak up, help you enjoy His kingdom, understand His kingdom and proclaim the glorious life you have in Christ. Look at verse
Matthew 5:12, “12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
It is as though we read verses 9-11 and Jesus knows we are going to be afraid, so in verse 12 He says, “Rejoice!” Why? You’re in His kingdom today! You’re under His reign and His rule today!” Rejoice!
I have been walking with Jesus for 30 years. I can tell you, I can’t imagine life outside His kingdom. I don’t mean everything has been easy. I have made decisions that have made life more difficult. My marriage has had challenging seasons where we were wondering, “Why did we get married?”
We’ve walked through miscarriages, our daughter had severe medical challenges, I have had career challenges along the way, my father died of alcoholism, my mother had Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia until she passed away in 2021 and my brother passed away in 2022. I have had challenges.
I have had people say things about me that weren’t true. I have had people insult me. I have been made fun of for my belief in Jesus but following Jesus has only been gain in my life. He’s been so good to me. I can’t imagine life outside His kingdom. Won’t you enter into His kingdom through faith in Jesus?
North Village Church
This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.
Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.
North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.
You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.
Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.