His teaching turns their world upside down! They’ve been viewing life one way, assuming it was the correct way. Jesus challenges their definition of life up to this point. In essence He’s saying the world has got it all wrong. And begins to paint a picture of God’s kingdom here on earth, drastically different from life as they’ve known it to be.
It’s not the ones who are full of themselves that win in the end (v3) or those who claim they have it all together (v4); it’s not the ones who are boastful (v5) or who run after worldly things (things this world has to offer) (v6), it's not the critical & judgmental that succeed (v7) or those who fill their hearts with every shameful lust, going after whatever momentary pleasures they can find; it's not the angry or those quick to slander, fight, and stir up trouble around them that win; it's not even a persecuted-free, rejection free-life that defines real living. This is living defined by the world, but the world is wrong.
In God’s kingdom, it’s the exact opposite who find blessing. God has set out in Jesus to reorient us to life as He intended.
This message of blessing paints a picture of those having crossed over from death to life who now:
- live from God-confidence vs. self-confidence - those who live life out of their relationship with God ("Christ in you the hope of glory") are the ones who are citizens or belong to God's kingdom;
- recognize something’s gone terribly wrong & yearn for a better way - for God will reveal it and they will find it ("...and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Lk 2:14);
- exchange proud, boastful, haughty, self-sufficient, self-dependent, "lording it over others" kind of living for lives of gentleness & respect toward others;
- relentlessly pursue right-living vs. the emptiness in the pursuit of the pleasures of this world for "He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." (Ps. 107:9);
- desire mercy more than sacrifice (a grace-giving spirit vs. a judgmental & critical spirit), freely extending forgiveness for they have been forgiven much (Mt. 18:21-35);
- relentlessly protect one's heart and pursue a life that is wise in doing right and innocent of any "wrong" (things that are tainted, corrupt & evil) – Ro 16:19; they are the ones who "know" God;
- actively pursue peace vs stirring up trouble; God's people follow the One who entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, who came to serve and not be served and came bringing peace to those on whom God's favor rests. They reflect the image they bear;
- hold fast to right-living even when those around them come after them for refusing to live the world’s way; they refuse to resign to simply fitting in and having the world celebrate them for it. Instead, though the world finds it uncomfortable and therefore attempts to silence them, their life stands out, living the way Jesus lived. This is Kingdom living;
- fix their eyes on Jesus, seeking first God’s Kingdom, setting their hearts on things above rather than deny King Jesus, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize or heavenly reward in store, which far outweighs anything here.
Jesus is doing a comparative assessment regarding life: God’s kingdom vs. life defined by the world. The world is in great danger. It has replaced right living with a lie, exchanging blessing for condemnation. He has set before us this day a choice. Blessed living (described in the Beattitudes) or worldly living. Life or death. Jesus is saying to His Precious Image-Bearers, “This is what Kingdom living looks like friends. Walk in Me and you will become this kind of people, the kind of people God intended when He first formed you in His mind. Lay aside the old self and be a new people (a reborn people). God will do the forming and re-creating. You simply choose to follow Me, for I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. The choice is yours…Now choose life!” (Dt 30:19)
God, I pray you continually form kingdom living within us, that our lives emanate your kingdom, and that your kingdom spreads far and wide as our lives points those around us to You...for yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever! Amen!