Friday, November 17, 2023

2023.11.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 5:1–16

Read Matthew 5:1–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jesus see (Matthew 5:1)? Where did He go? What did He do? Who else went where? How does Matthew 5:2 emphasize the action? What does Jesus do? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:3? In what are they poor? What is theirs? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:4? What will be done to them? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:5? How? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:6? For what do they hunger? What else do they do for righteousness? What will be done for them? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:7? What will be done for them? Who will be blessed in Matthew 5:8? Why—what (Whom!) will they see? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:9? What will they be called, of Whom? What is happening to the ones in Matthew 5:10? For what are they being persecuted? Why are they blessed—what do they have? Who are blessed—pay attention to the pronouns—in Matthew 5:11? What three things will be done to them? What has to be true about the veracity of the denouncing, for this blessing to apply? For Whose sake must this be done to them? With what two commands does Matthew 5:12 begin? What do they have, in what measure, and where? Who else has received both this hardship and this blessing? What else are these persecuted ones (Matthew 5:13)? What mustn’t they lose? Why not? What else are they (Matthew 5:14, cf. Matthew 4:14–16)? What cannot be done to them? Where has God placed them (Matthew 5:15)? What must they let men see (Matthew 5:16)? Whom will men glorify in response? What does this mean about the source of the light?

What difference and distinction does Christ make in His people? Matthew 5:1–16 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these sixteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that King Jesus makes His people into heirs and emissaries of the kingdom of light.

The King and His people at the mountain. It’s important to note that Jesus is moving away from the multitudes and isolating Himself with His disciples (Matthew 5:1). Multitudes generally prefer wealth, levity, pride, feasting, self-seeking, licentiousness, resentment, and ease (basically the opposite of each of Matthew 5:3a, Matthew 5:4a, Matthew 5:5a, Matthew 5:6a, Matthew 5:7a, Matthew 5:8a, Matthew 5:9a, Matthew 5:10a, Matthew 5:11). But believers have something better: Christ Himself and all that comes in Him. So Jesus pulls His disciples aside from the multitudes. He sets before them their blessedness in direct opposition to that of the world. Just as He did in forming the church under Moses, He gathers them to a mountain and declares their blessed distinctiveness before commanding them to live in that distinctive way.

It is in the King that we have the kingdom. But notice how all of these are things that are ours in Christ. Every believer is someone who has realized that, without Christ, we have nothing but poverty (Matthew 5:3a). But with Christ, we have the entire kingdom in Him (verse 3b). 

If we mourn over our sin and misery and all ongoing effects of the fall, as those who hate everything that is against Christ (Matthew 5:4a), then we must surely be comforted in the completion of the working out of the effects of His victory (verse 4b).

If we do not advance our own reputation or our own interests but meekly know our place as unprofitable servants at best (Matthew 5:5a), we find that resting in Christ elevates us to the status of joint-heirs with Him (verse 5b)—even if, for a time, we suffer as we wait for the inheritance (cf. Romans 8:17).

If our hunger and thirst is for righteousness, we will be constantly hungry and thirsty (Matthew 5:6a)! Christ Himself will be satisfying, and we can praise God that He is completely satisfied with us in Him. But, He is not satisfied to leave us as we are, and we are not satisfied to remain as we are. Trying to live that way is a common mistake of our antinomian age.

However, here is a marvelous guarantee: we in whom the Spirit has created this hunger shall ultimately be filled. The work that He has begun in us WILL be completed (cf. Philippians 1:6). We WILL be conformed to Christ’s image (cf. Romans 8:29–30). And even as we purify ourselves as He is pure, we are doing this precisely because we have that assured hope that we will be like Him (cf. 1 John 3:2–3). 

It is in the King that we become like Him. There is a marvelous freedom that comes from being resting upon Christ. We are free to show mercy (Matthew 5:7a), to have a single-minded pursuit of God (Matthew 5:8a), and to release bitterness by forgiving (Matthew 5:9a). In particular, the singlemindedness toward God called “purity of heart” in Matthew 5:8 will find its mark. “Seeing God” is that ultimate glory, that beatific vision, that we will enjoy in the day that our hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied (cf. 1 John 3:2–3 again). We will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:8b), even the mercy of being adopted as children (Matthew 5:10b), but the greatest part of our blessing as children will be to see our Father (Matthew 5:9b).

The other kingdom will hate us for the sake of our King. So, Jesus has set before us the world-dwarfing blessedness that belongs to those who have Him. And now, we are brought back to “the world” who are the “they” in Matthew 5:11. The disciples can see over their shoulders the multitude down the mountain. This is no small group that is reviling and persecuting and falsely speaking all kinds of evil. 

But, if this is coming to them for the sake of Jesus, these attacks have the exact opposite of the world’s intent. For the attack themselves are reminders and verifications that they have Christ! So, the Lord commands us not only to be comforted, but a double and intensified command of celebration. Rejoice! Be glad! Indeed, be exceedingly glad! The prophets before them suffered much for the hope of Christ; now the disciples (and we!) have a clear view of Christ Himself. So, let them (and we!) rejoice exceedingly over Him!

But we have been put here precisely to show the kingdom difference. It is precisely in our distinction from others, our saltiness vs their non-saltiness, that we are assigned our usefulness in this world (Matthew 5:13). The light does not put itself on the stand (Matthew 5:15). But God has put us where we cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14) so that our good works will glorify Him (Matthew 5:16). Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness of Matthew 4:14–16, so those who are conformed to Him must not shrink back from sticking out like a sore thumb. Only let them be clear about from whence the light has come: the Father in heaven, Who has adopted them as children in His beloved and well-pleasing Son!

What do you know about yourself apart from Christ? How have you been growing in displaying the character of the King? When/how have you suffered for His sake? Who has assigned this to you? How are you making it known that He is the One Who has made the difference in you?

Sample prayer:  Our gracious God and our heavenly Father, we thank You for gathering us unto Yourself in Jesus Christ, the Son. We have no good from ourselves, but we pray that Your Spirit would continue making us more and more like Him, so that by His light in us, it will be seen that He is the Light Who has shined in the darkness, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH464 “The Beatitudes”

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