Greatest Sermon in History Part 2
"God Bless You"
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
January 18, 2004
Matthew 5:1-12 (NLT)
She’s 14 years old and
has the attention of millions. This past week she entered the world of
men and competed with guys two and three times her age. And the wonder
of it all is that she beat several men with much more strength and
experience than her… Men who not long ago would have scoffed at the
idea of such a young girl ever having a place in their ranks.
Who am I talking about?
Michelle Wie. Michelle is the 14-year-old marvel who took on the men in
the PGA Tour this past week at the Sony Open. And she really held her
own. She has an excellent swing and is able to find the middle of the
fairway more times than not. She raised her own game to a new level and
presented a real challenge to the people around her. And when all was
said and done, she missed the cut by only one stroke when she shot a
2-under-par on Friday. And get this: she tied for 80th and beat 48
Some of us here this morning are weekend hackers. Last summer I became
a bit of one myself. I know that I’m just a beginner and I’ve got a
long, long…. Long ways to go. But every once in a while I impress
myself. Every once in a while, I’m able to get the ball up in the air
and still have it land in bounds on the fairway three or even four
times in a row!
But imagine… Imagine if I had the opportunity to take on Michelle Wie.
Imagine if we went head-to-head in a battle of the sexes. Imagine if we
had a showdown on the greens. Imagine how I’d feel after being
completely beaten and trounced upon by a fourteen year old girl! It
wouldn’t take me long to realize that she’s completely out of my
league. In fact, maybe the league I’m in should be disbanded and any
records of its existence destroyed.
No matter how good I think I may be doing and how far I think I’ve come
in learning how to golf, all I have to do is turn on the TV and watch
real pros go at it. I can watch them step up to the first tee and drive
that ball farther through the air than I can drive it in a car. And
what really gets me is when they do that and then step back to their
caddy and say, just loud enough for the cameras to pick it up, “I
didn’t get all of it.” It’s as if they’re rubbing it in my face! “I’m
out of your league, punk!”
The Scribes and the Pharisees mentioned in the New Testament were pros
when it came to religion. They lived according to a religious code of
conduct that most people in the society could never attain. They raised
the bar high and were able to clear it almost without fail. And they
made no secret of it. In fact, they would parade their religious
superiority around and make sure that everyone knew how incredibly
gifted they were when it came to living a spiritually rich life. They
made sure everyone around them knew that they were out of their league.
Enter Jesus. This unknown teacher starts traveling around the
countryside talking about the Kingdom of God. And because of the
incredible miracles He was performing, news about Him began to spread.
People started asking, “What is this Kingdom Jesus is talking about?
And more importantly, how do I get in? What do I have to do? Could I
ever measure up?” Would this Kingdom be out of their league, and would
they be left feeling discouraged, defeated, and in despair?
Last week we started a new series on The Greatest Sermon in History…
the Sermon on the Mount. We commented that in this sermon, Jesus was
primarily teaching His disciples. But others were in earshot, too.
Crowds of people had heard about Jesus and had come out to see Him by
the thousands. And as He taught His disciples, they edged closer and
closer to hear what He was saying. How do I know this? Because at the
end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Bible tells us that the crowds were
amazed at His teaching. (Matthew 7:28)
So here you have the crowds. They had shown up to hear this Jesus talk
about the Kingdom of Heaven. Would Jesus give them a list of
requirements to get in? Would He tell them who could qualify? Would He
tell them if they even had a shot?
And then Jesus begins to speak… and he begins with “Blessed…”
He tells them, “You may have come here today with all kinds of doubts
and all kinds of questions about what you have to do to be part of the
Kingdom. You may question your qualifications and you may wonder if you
measure up. But I tell you, you are blessed. You have reason to
celebrate. You are greatly favoured by God. You are one lucky person!”
People who had shown up, probably expecting to hear how they didn’t
measure up, were told to take heart… they were blessed.
And thus begins the Beatitudes. At least, that’s what we’ve come to
call these 10 verses at the beginning of Matthew chapter 5. There are
eight Beatitudes in all. We’re going to look at the first three this
morning and finish them up next week. And we’re going to have to move
through them rather quickly… each one really could be a message on it’s
own. So if we were going to cover each one in depth this morning, it’d
take us another hour or two. So I hope you packed a lunch.
As we go though the Beatitudes this week and next, you’ll notice some
Observations on the Beatitudes:
A. God’s Value
System Does Not Equal World’s Value System
The things that we think
are important in this world are not necessarily the things that God
thinks are important.
B. There are
If you’re poor in
spirit, the Kingdom of Heaven is yours. If you’re meek, you will
inherit the earth. If you experience pain and suffering, you’re lucky.
These things don’t seem to go together.
C. Deal with
Attitudes, not Actions; Heart, not Hands
The Beatitudes are more
concerned about who you are than what you do. And that’s a theme you’ll
find throughout the Sermon on the Mount and throughout all of
Scripture. God is much more concerned about sincerity than He is about
Blessings are Real
They are not obscure or
abstract. They are not wishful thinking. They are genuine promises that
Jesus presents in a real way… as if they are really going to happen.
So let’s get a start on
The Beatitudes (Part 1)
1. Blessed are
the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (v.3)
What is Jesus saying? He
is saying, “You are blessed if you recognize your need of God, because
Heaven is meant for you.”
Now, remember who was listening in… People who for years had been shown
up by the religious leaders, the Scribes and the Pharisees. These
Scribes and Pharisees would have considered themselves rich in spirit,
and others would have seen them that way, too. They would have been
considered affluent in religiosity. They would have been seen as
wealthy in spiritual stature.
But Jesus says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is for the poor in spirit. It’s
for the spiritually bankrupt. It’s for those wallowing in religious
poverty. It’s for the people who can’t measure up to a religious code
of conduct and know it!”
At another time, Jesus told a story to illustrate this truth…
Luke 18:10-14 (NLT)
“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was
a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. The proud
Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God,
that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax
collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit
adultery, I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his
eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow,
saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this
sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the
proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.”
You can be a good person, attend church, and throw a few bucks in the
offering box, and all that’s fine. But if you’re depending on that to
get you into Heaven, it ain’t gonna happen.
I heard Billy Graham on the radio this week say…
“Religion alone will not get you into Heaven.”
~ Billy Graham
Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but
Greg Nance says,
“To be poor in spirit is more than to be humble. It is like comparing
myself to the perfection of Jesus and seeing the truth and accepting it
as truth. I not only do not measure up, but I am like a miserable
beggar standing by a King.”
~ Greg Nance
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“You have reason to celebrate if you recognize that you don’t measure
up, that you never can, and that you need God, because Heaven is meant
2. Blessed are
those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (v.4)
Some people will look at
this Beatitude and conclude that you always have to be somber and sad
and in mourning. But that would fly in the face of other passages that
promise us as believers joy and gladness.
No, I don’t believe we’re always supposed to be in mourning. That’s not
how this Beatitude should be taken. But when we are in mourning, we
will be comforted. That’s the way it works in the Kingdom.
What are some reasons to mourn?
Let me give you three things you can mourn for…
Reasons to Mourn:
I’ve had a personal lose recently. Before the first snowfall, I went
out and bought a couple of reflectors for the end of my driveway. And I
went out and put them in the ground, one on each side of the driveway.
Not more than a week later, a car pulled up and stopped, somebody got
out, grabbed one of the reflectors, jumped back in the car and took
off. So I lost one of the reflectors right away. Over the past couple
of days, Shera and I were out of town. We got back last night to find
that a snowplow had run over our one remaining reflector. I know
Truthfully, we all do experience lose. We may experience the death of
someone we love… a co-worker, a friend, a family member. We may have
our dreams dashed and destroyed. We may have some kind of serious
setback in our lives. These are personal loses, and there are things
that should be mourned. And as you do, you will be comforted. That’s
the way it works in the Kingdom.
Psalm 147:3 (NLT)
He heals the brokenhearted, binding up
& Suffering in the World
There’s a lot of it. You see it every day. You can mourn for some of
the terrible things that happen and the lives that are destroyed.
Do you know there are some people who are proud of the way they rebel
against God and how they follow their own evil desire instead? But you
are to mourn for your sinfulness. If you mourn your sinfulness, that
means you’re not proud of it. And you don’t just confess it and keep
doing it. Instead, you repent, which means you’re sorry enough to do a
full 180 and turn away from it.
When you mourn, be
genuine about it. And realize this incredible truth:
God has given the Hold Spirit the assignment of providing comfort when
we need it.
3. Blessed are
the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (v.5)
Here’s one of those
contradictions we were talking about. Here’s one of those times when
you see that the value system of God is completely different than the
value system of this world. Because in this world, the meek are
trampled on. If you want to get ahead, you have to assert yourself, you
need to be a go-getter, you need to take charge, you need to lead the
way, you need to fight off the competition and win at any cost.
But Jesus says, “If you are meek… if you are gentle and lowly… if you
sometimes feel like the world is passing you by because you’re not
assertive enough… if you feel marginalized by society… then take heart,
because everything that others struggle and fight and compete to win
will be yours. You will inherit the earth.”
You don’t have to step on other people. You don’t have to push your way
to the top. You don’t have to have a domineering Type-A personality. Be
kind, be gentle, be humble, be lowly… and it will all work out in your
favour. That’s how it works in the Kingdom.
Matthew 23:11-13 (NLT)
The greatest among you must be a servant.
But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble
themselves will be exalted.
“How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you
Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you won’t let others enter the Kingdom of
Heaven, and you won’t go in yourselves.”
I think there’s a danger in discussing meekness, and that is that we
equate meekness with weakness. But meek does not equal weak.
Meek does not equal Weak
You can be meek and have a firm confidence in who God made you to be.
You can have certainty of you actions and your obedience to the will of
God. You can have your self-worth based not in who others think you are
but in who God thinks you are.
And it doesn’t mean that you don’t strive to do your best and succeed
at whatever you do. But it means that you are gentle in how you
interact with others and you treat others as more important than
yourself. You don’t behave as a bully or demand to get your own way.
You can look out for your own interests, but also look out for the
interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
A.W. Tozer wrote a book called, “The Pursuit of God.” And in it he said…
“The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own
inferiority. Rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and
as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He
has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He know he is as weak and
helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the
same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than
angels. ‘In himself, nothing; in God, everything.’ That is his motto.”
~ A. W. Tozer, in The Pursuit of God
There’s where we’re
going to stop this morning. We’ll finish up with the other five
Beatitudes next Sunday. (Or possibly look at the next four and save the
eighth for the week after that.) But for now, I want to give you a
chance to allow what we’ve been talking about already to sink in.
Have you been relying in your religiosity to gain entrance into the
Kingdom of Heaven? Do you think you’re good enough to earn your
admittance? I’ve got to tell you, you’re not. Compared to God’s
holiness, you’re the scum of the earth… just like the rest of us.
Recognize that there’s no way you can make it on your own. You need
Jesus to help you in.
And how are you with mourning? I don’t mean, are you sad all the time
and do you always focus on your faults. But do you mourn for your
sinfulness? Do you confess your inadequacies? Do you recognize that you
fail God from time to time and fall short of His standard for living?
And are you sorry enough to change the way you’re living and strive to
follow Him and live for Him?
That deals with your relationship with God. How are you with others?
Are you meek? Do you handle other people with care and compassion? Are
you gentle? Do you genuinely care about others or are you only looking
out for number 1? If you have difficulty being meek, then you need to
ask God to soften your spirit and help you see others through His eyes.
Recognize that every person you know is another person that Jesus died
for. And if they matter that much to Him, they need to matter to me and
to you, too.
Would you close your eyes. If God’s been speaking to you this morning
and dealing with you in areas of your life… perhaps areas that have
been closed to him in recent months or years… perhaps areas that you’ve
never opened up to Him before… then I want to pray for you. I’m not
going to mention you by name, but while everyone else has their eyes
closed out of respect for you, would you look up from where you are and
make eye contact with me?
If you’re here this morning and you don’t know this Jesus we’re talking
about… if you’ve been relying on your own goodness to gain entrance to
the Kingdom and this morning you realize that you can’t make it on your
own… If you want to start a relationship with Jesus today and live for
Him from this day forward, I’m going to ask you to slip up your hand
and hold it up long enough for me to see it.