First Lesson: Isaiah 25:1-5:
Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. 2You have made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin, the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more; it will never be rebuilt. 3Therefore strong peoples will honor you; cities of ruthless nations will revere you. 4You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall 5and like the heat of the desert. You silence the uproar of foreigners; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled.
Psalm for the Day: Psalm 122 in Christian Worship Supplement
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing in your gates,
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Second Lesson: James 2:1-13:
1My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:1-3:
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Introduction: It is one of the prettiest sites in all of Israel. On a hill that rises about 650 feet above lake is a beautiful octagonal chapel built in the 1930’s with funds that came from Benito Mussolini’s fascist government. There is a lush garden surrounding the church and from the grounds you get a magnificent view of the Sea of Galilee. It is even more beautiful when you combine it with its history. From about the year 300, this has been recognized as the place where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. The church has 8 sides because each wall is dedicated to one of the 8 sayings that make up the introduction to the sermon which are commonly called the Beatitudes (I found one author who calls them the Macarisms after the Greek word that introduces each one). Over the course of the next 8 Sundays, we will take a look at these sayings of Jesus and see the blessings that we have from Christ.
I. The Poor in Spirit…
II. For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
I. The Poor in Spirit
- Matthew begins recounting this sermon in a simple way: opened mouth, taught
- This took place probably sometime around the middle of his Galilean ministry
- He had already gathered all of his disciples and the crowds knew his miracles
- On this hilly place a little ways from Capernaum, Jesus taught his disciples
- This is not a sermon that he preached to gather believers, it is for followers (us)
- It is almost entirely law. Mirror: show our need; Rule: show our role as disciples
- Each of these 8 sayings tells believers that they are blessed by God through Jesus
- The first four speak of what we are before Christ, the others about after Christ
- They all tell what happens when we are brought into contact with Jesus’ work
- The first one sums up all of the sermon quite nicely: blessed are the poor in spirit
- This is tied to his saying that you can’t enter the K.o.H unless surpass Pharisees
- They considered themselves to be rich in spirit: parable of Pharisee & Publican
- Those who are poor in spirit are those who know they can never save themselves
- The rich in spirit all look down on those poor in spirit & say they have no hope
- Why is it that Jesus calls them blessed? It’s because of what he can do for them
- For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
- What happens when the poor in spirit come into contact with the person of Jesus?
- He shows them the reason that they consider themselves to be poor in spirit: sin
- Throughout the sermon, he shows how easy it is to sin against a holy God
- He shows that it is our thoughts that condemn us just as much as our sinful deeds
- He then turns our hearts to him for the solution to our great problem of our sin
- He leads us to confess our sins as the tax collector did and seek God’s mercy
- We find God’s mercy in everything that Jesus has done for us as our Savior
- He opens up his store of heavenly riches: his all-sufficient keeping of the Law
- He is able to give them the kingdom of God in this world: he reigns in their hearts
- He then points us to the heavenly riches that he has won for us by his death for us
- This brings us a kind of wealth that we could not even begin to imagine right now
- This is the clearest declaration of the gospel in all of this great sermon. Amen.