Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Did Jesus Teach? -- Intro

I've been doing a series on the Sermon on the Mount in the Sunday School class I teach. For a long time I've been wanting to go back and think through more deeply the things that Jesus actually taught. The Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start because of its depth and core principles of life that Jesus wanted His hearers to know and do.

In this series of blog posts, then, I will try to unpack in hopefully a helpful way, the things that I have learned from this study.

Jesus begins His sermon with what we call the Beatitudes. These can be found in Matthew 5:1-12. He had called His disciples up to hear Him, but the multitude of people were also present and overheard what He had said. At the end of the sermon, the multitudes were astonished because He taught them as one who had authority. (Matthew 7:28-29)

Each of the Beatitudes begins with the word “Blessed” which means happy or fortunate. Jesus is describing a real, internal, satisfying happiness that is far different from what the world means by that term. When you read these statements you realize that they are counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. For example He begins with “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” and “Blessed are those that mourn.” These don't sound like encouraging statements for most people today.

God has given us what He calls “great and precious promises” so that we might share in the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4) That's an astounding statement. I mention that here because I think at the core of having the kind of happiness that Jesus promises us is to share in God's nature by being born again. Jesus told a Jewish leader that “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Jesus' whole message here at the beginning of His ministry is to give people the good news about the Kingdom of God. And so when someone is born again, He becomes a sharer in the divine nature and will therefore have the attributes that promote true happiness that Jesus outlines for us here.

Come back to the Faithful Men Blog next Tuesday for the next installment. I'll try to have these thoughts posted each Tuesday.

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