“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.” — The Bible Matthew Chapter 5:1-2, New International Version, accessed via Bible Gateway.com.
Beginning today we will be considering that great teaching session of Jesus usually referred to as the “Sermon on the Mount.” This sermon takes up three chapters of the book of Matthew (5, 6 and 7) and includes lots of good stuff. This is where Jesus talks about being salt and light in the world, murder, oaths, “an eye for an eye,” giving to the needy, prayer, laying up treasures in heaven, judging others, ask, seek, knock, true and false prophets and disciples and much, much, more.
But this lengthy teaching begins with what we call The Beatitudes, that series of statements beginning with the words “blessed are.” We will be going through these verse by verse, one per day.
Dig a Little Deeper: As we read about these think about the people Jesus calls blessed — is it shocking? How does it go against conventional wisdom or popular culture?
Scripture tells us that after his baptism, Jesus was led out into the wilderness for forty days where he was tempted by Satan. This is the story we are looking at today. I chose the version of this story from Luke 4:1-14, NIV (New International Version).
1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them, he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’[b]”
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[c]”
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[d]”
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[e]”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. –
— Luke 4:1-13 NIV (New International Version)
Access: from Bible Gateway.com
We all find ourselves in a spiritual wilderness at times when we are forced to answer the hard questions. Do we trust God to provide for us? Do we worship the gods of this world, money and power or do we worship God? Do we sometimes test God because we do not trust his provision?
I must confess that I do not always pass these tests when presented to me in my life. I worry about lack, not having enough to survive. I sometimes find myself starting to get sucked into the worldly quest for money and power.
That is why it is so important for us to read the Gospels. To once again hear the words of Jesus because we all know that as in this story, and in our lives today, temptation doesn’t go away because we resist it once. It will wait “until an opportune time” and try again.
So as we look at the life and words of Jesus who came to be the great example not the great exception we are each called to turn within and ask ourselves those hard questions. Who or what do I trust? Who or what do I serve? God? Or the wealth, power or political, social and religious leaders of this world?
“Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.”― Rich Mullins
Dig a Little Deeper:
As followers of Jesus, how can we love like Jesus loved?
Here we are again at the beginning of the month of December when we celebrate “Christmas.” Are you one of the people who dread this time of year and just wish it would be over? Do you feel like you are going through the motions of the season because you don’t want to let your family down or that you wouldn’t be a “good Christian” if you didn’t? Are you tired of the great festival of greed and excess the holidays have become? Have you noticed that instead of bringing us together, the divisions that separate us seem to grow even deeper during this season? So what do we do?
Well I have a suggestion. Let’s realize that the busyness and excess surrounding the holiday called “Christmas” are not part of the Christmas story or the message of Jesus. Let’s take the myths and fables out of our celebrations. And finally, let’s stop worshiping the baby in the manger and start following the life and teachings of Jesus, the way shower and master teacher.
This month we are going to be looking at the life and teachings of Jesus and how they apply to the lives of his followers in the world today. My personal preference of translation of the Bible for my personal study is the King James version because I love the language, but I have chosen to use the New International Version (NIV) for this series because it is easier to read.
Each day’s post will end with an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the lesson, by considering a question or questions. I encourage you to think about these, live with them for a while. Journal about them or post your thoughts to the comments. Please get active in this discussion, we really want everyone to gain a real understanding of what it is we are celebrating during this holiday season.
Yes, this may be challenging, but it will be life-changing if you allow it. Please join us in this great adventure into the life of Jesus.
Dig a Little Deeper:
During the month of December Christians celebrate light and Jesus.
How do our celebrations reflect the light and life of Jesus?
“It’s important that what thoughts you are feeding into your mind because your thoughts create your belief and experiences. You have positive thoughts and you have negative ones too. Nurture your mind with positive thoughts: kindness, empathy, compassion, peace, love, joy, humility, generosity, etc.
The more you feed your mind with positive thoughts,
the more you can attract great things into your life.”