Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
Sermon on the Mount:
We have been examining Jesus’ teachings and discovered that the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven was His main subject. Furthermore, the bulk of that teaching frequently took place in the form of parables. Entire books have been written about His parables, but we have only covered a few of those that fall into three categories: 1) a description of the Kingdom; 2) qualities or characteristics of Kingdom inhabitants; and, 3) how to become part of the Kingdom. These parables included the Mustard Seed, the Yeast, the Treasure Hunter, the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl, and the Wedding Banquet.
While the parables made up the bulk of Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom, there are other recorded instructions, too, such as in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt., chapters 5-7), where we return to consider the Beatitudes. This teaching took place when the crowds were following Jesus, and He needed a higher place to teach from—not unlike pastors at churches, who may teach from a platform or a pulpit. Thus, Jesus and His followers climbed a nearby hillside, where Christ taught the people about God’s Kingdom, and the blessings His followers receive. Jesus began His hillside teaching session with:
“You’re Blessed when:
-- you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
-- you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
-- you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
--you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
-- you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
-- you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
-- you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
--your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. (MSG)
While I particularly appreciate the fresh take on the Beatitudes and the use of modern language, other versions of the Bible begin and end the passage with the statement, “…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” (Mt. 5:1; 10). The verses in between remind me of Romans 8: 28: “We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good,” (MSG). Every detail in our lives—isn’t this the concise message in the Beatitudes? They provide direction and hope, and remind us that God is sovereign, in control, and He hasn’t forgotten us. Thus, if John 3: 16 is the Gospel in a nutshell, then the Beatitudes are a concise Kingdom Handbook for Living.
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)