Last night, we talked about how Jesus' teachings can be easily misunderstood if we don't have a good grasp of what this whole "kingdom of heaven" idea is about. Again, it's the idea that Jesus rules and reigns in whatever place we're talking about. So, for example, God's kingdom can come near as a person takes a step of faith out of "the crowd" and into being a disciple of Jesus because, at the end of the day, that person is allowing Jesus to rule and reign in his or her heart. In the future, sure, there will also be a time in which Jesus will rule and reign on this earth (think "every knee will bow, every tongue will confess" that Jesus is the King). But, in the meantime, God's kingdom starts to grow and take shape in those who take the step of faith to believe in Jesus.
Jesus has invited people into the kingdom-- and, at the point of the Sermon on the Mount, many have taken Him up on that offer. When He's teaching, He's aiming it at those who have chosen to follow Him with their lives. That being said, He always has an eye on the crowd-- making sure that those who are on the "outside looking in" that they are one decision away from entering into the kingdom.
With all of that it order, it lays down the foundation for what we're going to be considering for the rest of the semester. These "blessed are the ___" statements that are to come are really expressions of what it's going to look like for someone who has already become a disciple to live life fully alive. With God's grace at their back and the power of the Holy Spirit within, a follower of Jesus is going to be able to "advance' throughout their life and relationships, reflecting these very things that Jesus taught.
We can't follow Jesus' teachings on our own. On our own, we can't "go the extra mile" or "turn the other cheek." We can't really be "peacemakers" or truly "poor in spirit." But the good news of the kingdom is this: with God we can.
We have the extra mile walking power of God within us.
We have the cheek turning strength of Jesus in our hearts.
And all those other "blessed" things, those things we're going to talk about this semester are possible IN US as we take up Jesus' offer to take that first step of faith and trust in Him.
"Kingdom living is the overflow of being graced with kingdom life."