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May 22, 2007 / Daniel

Sermon on the Mount

I started to read George Ladd’s The Gospel of the Kingdom this week.  So far it’s been a pretty interesting read.  One of the main questions that he seeks to answer is, “What is the kingdom of God?”  (BTW I think that it’s pretty obvious that the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are the same thing).   His answer is that it refers to the sovereign rule of God exercised throughout different realms.  At times, it refers God’s rule over the hearts of men and at other times it refers God’s future rule over this world. 

I decided that I’m going to work through the Sermon on the Mount on my own as I read the book.    One of the great things about NT Wright (check out this lecture) is how he grounds the kingdom in the OT hope of the end of exile and the restoration of Israel.  The OT prophets envisioned a day when YHWH would return to Zion and Israel would receive the Spirit and able to obey the covenant.  At that time, Israel’s enemies would be overthrown and a Son of David would be established on his throne.  The resurrection of the dead would take place and Israel’s long exile would finally be over (Dan. 12).

So when Jesus used the phrase “kingdom of heaven,” these things would have come to mind to his audience.  That’s what makes the Sermon on the Mount.  Here we have Jesus’ kingdom agenda.  This is what Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is about. 

 Beatitudes are probably the most famous part of Jesus’ sermon.   First, it’s important to realize that these are good news, not good advice.  This is an announcement that brings blessings to those who already are going through these problems.  Another important thing to realize about the beatitudes is that they’re upside down of how our world sees things.    It’s kinda like if you were to see an article in some teen magazine entitled “How popular are the fat kids, because they are first in the lunch line.” 

Jesus’ kingdom message is quite a bit different than the message of the kingdoms of this world.    

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2 Comments

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  1. Jon Petersen / Jun 3 2007 10:19 pm

    I have to say this is quite similar to what Donald Miller talks about in his book “searching for God knows what.” Simply that Jesus never subscribed to the popularity contest we are all trying to do well in here on earth. He says it’s because Jesus found his self-worth in being part of the Godhead. We lost the experience of sharing in God’s glory when the relationship was ripped away from us through the fall. Now we search for our self-worth by what our peers think of us. This dictates who or how we think we are doing in life.

  2. rey / Nov 14 2007 12:41 am

    Jon, that insight certainly would connect 1 Peter 4:3 “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles…” (i.e. stop trying to please other people’s lusts, stop being enslaved to lusts that aren’t properly even yours to begin with) with 2 Peter 1:4 “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature,…” The knowledge of him who called us along with everything pertaining to life and godliness ought to make us able to resist being enslaved to other men’s lusts, even as God is not ever enslaved by anyone elses’ desires.

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