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Is This a Revolution?

October 4, 2011

The context of the Sermon on the Mount has always struck me as a bit ironic.  Looking back at the previous chapter of Matthew…in fact, just the last few verses of that chapter…you’ll notice that there is a crowd of people following Jesus around.  Verse 4:24 says, “So his fame spread throughout all Syria.”  He’s got a crowd following Him around, He’s gained a measure of fame, and now, as He sat down to begin teaching His disciples, He avoids everything that many people would cling to.  And that’s where we find this sermon.

 Take a moment and read through Matthew 5:1-12, looking closely at verse 5.

 You have to remember that the Jews were hoping for a militant leader to be the Messiah.  They wanted another warrior king like David, or even Alexander the Great to come and unite the people of Israel against the occupying forces of Rome.  And here, we see that a great crowd has begun following Him around.  He’s teaching the gospel (which was a self proclamation of what He had come to do), He’s healing their diseases and afflictions, and the people are anticipating the greatness that is to come.  You have to imagine that the disciples felt like they had a front row seat to the revolution that was building up.  And then Jesus gives this sermon.

 He says to them in verse 5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  Now, I don’t have a whole lot of experience with revolutions, but from what I understand, meekness is rarely a character trait that people look for in a revolutionary.  They were looking for boldness, strength, and even aggression…meekness would not have been in the job description.  Another thing that’s important to note is how early in the ministry of Jesus that He gives this sermon.  Literally, on the same page in my Bible, is when Matthew records the gathering of the disciples.  We have, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” a bunch of healings, and this sermon.  Jesus, very early on, sets the tone for His disciples.  He is essentially unpacking for them that no matter what it was that they were expecting…He…Jesus…is God’s promised One.

 This idea of meekness is just as radical today as it was to those disciples who first heard the words as they streamed from His mouth.  They were ready for Him to, as Isaiah 42 says, “bring forth judgment to the nations.”  They wanted a mighty warrior, and Jesus was offering them the suffering servant.  How would you respond?  We live in a world that is controlled by the loud, the rich, and the people who have often bullied their way into places of power…not the meek.  And here, Jesus says that it is the meek who will inherit the earth.

 Ultimately, Jesus lived this out, not only for the disciples to see, but for us to see as well.  He wasn’t some cult leader attempting to gain an upper hand on people in order to control them…He was God incarnate, demonstrating for His chosen people how they are to live…ultimately, for the glory of the Lord.  He demonstrated this in front of Pilate, when He allowed Himself to be subjected to his judgment.  He demonstrated this as he was flogged…taking that pain instead of calling legions of angels to His defense.  And most importantly, He demonstrated this on the cross…dying for the sake of our sin…taking my sin upon Himself…that I might live.  Meekness is not just being wimpy…it’s knowing the power that is there…knowing, as John wrote in 1 John 4:4, that “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.”  This is what Christ demonstrated…that we might see and understand…and ultimately…follow.

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