Sunday, March 11, 2018

[Matt's Messages] "The Good Life (Part Two)"

“The Good Life (Part Two)”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
March 11, 2018 :: Matthew 5:7-12 

Since before Christmas, we’ve been studying together the Gospel of Matthew which is a theological biography of the most amazing Person Who ever lived, the Lord Jesus Christ. The first four chapters gave us a bit of His backstory. Where Jesus came from and Whom Jesus came from and how Jesus got His start in ministry. His baptism, His temptation, His calling of the disciples, His healing the sick, and His teaching and preaching “the good news of the kingdom.”

His message was, “Repent (turn around), for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And crowds have begun to follow Him, so He’s gone up on a mountainside, sat down in the authoritative posture of a wise teacher, and has begun teaching His disciples, His followers, and the crowd listening in what we now tend to call, “Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.”

Jesus’ sermon spans three chapters (chapters 5, 6, and 7) of Matthew, and I read the whole thing to us a few weeks ago in one sermon. It doesn’t really take that long to read.

But it can take a lifetime to learn!

In the Sermon the Mount Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Is the Kingdom present or future?

Yes, right?

It’s both. The Kingdom is already here. Jesus said it had come near, and that’s because the King has come.

But the Kingdom is also not here yet. Not in full. Not complete. Not what it will be–when the King returns.

And in this sermon, Jesus teaches how His followers (and that’s what we want to be! How His followers) are to live right now in light of the Kingdom of Heaven.

And Jesus teaches this material with unequaled authority. Unparalleled authority. Nobody outside of God has ever taught with such original, underived, natural, unquestionable authority as Jesus taught right here.

When He was done, everybody marveled at the authority that He was teaching with.

King Jesus is delivering what some have called His Kingdom Manifesto.

And it’s part and parcel of what He wants taught to all of His disciples, including us today.

But the particulars of what Jesus has to say can be very surprising.

Jesus turns everything upside down.

We saw that last time, didn’t we?

Jesus often says the unexpected. He teaches with a twist that you didn’t see coming.

In fact, He starts the whole sermon with a twist.

With this little word here: “Blessed.”


The word is “Makarios” in Greek, and it’s very hard to translate into English. We use the “blessed,” but this isn’t the kind of blessing where God’s puts a blessing on someone, like a word of blessing down from God.

And translations use the word, “happy” but that’s too emotional and kind of a “thin” word these days.

The word, “makarios,” means to be in a state to be congratulated.

We said last week that it means to be fortunate, to be well off, to sharp scholar has recently suggested the word, “flourishing.”

Which is a little awkward, but it really gets across the sense of the living goodness of the word.

We said that the Australians, “Good On Yer” or our saying, “Good For You,” or “Way to Be!” kind of get there, too.

Have you ever asked someone how they are doing, and they say something like, “I’m in a good place right now.” ?

Or maybe somebody else said it to you, “I think you’re in a good place right now.”

“You are where you need to be. You’re living well.”

“You are really flourishing.”

That’s what Jesus is saying here.

But that’s not the surprising thing.

The surprising thing is what kind of people Jesus says are truly blessed!

I would have never come up with this list.

But it’s exactly what Jesus leads with.

The needy. The sad. The lowly. The unsatisfied.

Those are the kind of people Jesus says are in a good place!

And really, because of how He’s saying it, Jesus is inviting His disciples to live in this way.

He’s saying, “This is the Good Life.”

This is the way to be.

This is the Kingdom Life.

This is King Jesus’ answer to the age old philosophers’ question, “What is the good life?”

“What is the best life?”

“What is the best way to be?”

“What does the flourishing life look like?”

Well, the answer might be a little hard to receive.

The Sermon on the Mount is at various points hard to receive.

Because the world is broken and so are we.

So we struggle to live as we should and as the Kingdom will be.

Jesus asks us to live out the values and customs of the Kingdom while we wait for it to arrive in full. And that’s not always easy.

But it’s always good!

So last week, we noticed that all 9 of these beatitudes follow the same pattern, and it’s important.

First there is a statement of blessing or happiness or flourishing.

“Blessed are...” Jesus says.

And then there is a description of the kind of people who are blessed.

And then the reason for their blessing is given.

Blessed are people X for reason Y.
Blessed are people X for reason Y.

Flourishing are people like X for the reason Y.

And for the first four, the kind people were really strange. You might never have guessed that those kind of people were living the good life.

And I actually think that’s true to varying degrees of all of these.

But the poor in the spirit, the mourners, the meek, and those unsatisfied with their own righteousness or with all of the injustice in the world–those folks are blessed.

And all for good reasons!  “Because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They will be comforted. They will inherit the earth. They will be filled with righteousness.”

The kingdom has come and is going to come.

And so those who live the kingdom life are blessed.

Let’s look at the next one. Verse 7.

“Blessed [flourishing] are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”


Same pattern.

If you are merciful, good for you. You are living the good life!

You’re in a good place.

Now, most of us would agree with that, but it’s not always how it feels, is it?

Did you ever have somebody in your grasp, and the last thing you wanted to show them was mercy?

I’m sure you have. I have.

In those moments, being merciful, showing compassion, being forgiving, helping somebody out, almost feels wrong. It definitely feels unnatural.

To be kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it?

Somebody who actually deserves the opposite?

That’s a different kind of living!

I think this is where we often go wrong on social media. We often form judgments about the shameful things that people do out there, and we get our pleasure from castigating them online.

We heap on the shame and outrage about what those bad people are doing.

What if we committed to being merciful online?

Not giving everybody a piece of our mind.

Telling somebody off.

Ridiculing their behavior. Which just might be ridiculous.

What if we didn’t do that? What if we were known for being merciful in our communication?

In our offline relationships. Husband and wife. Brothers and sisters. Co-workers. Neighbors.

Blessed are the merciful.

Does that describe you?

It better. Because this is a description of Jesus’ followers! This is what a disciple looks like.

And I’m sure it does. Not perfectly. But truly. I’m sure that every genuine believer in this room has been and is merciful.

By the way, we’re hear these themes pop up again and again in the Sermon on the Mount and in the rest of the Gospel of Matthew.

He’s not done talking about showing mercy. He’s going to circle back around on all of these ideas as the book unfolds.


Why are the merciful to be congratulated?

Just because they show self control?

I mean, they probably aren’t getting justice in many of these situations!

If you show mercy, you may not see justice. (That’s how it feels!)

What does Jesus say? V.7

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

When is that? That’s in the kingdom, right?

That’s future tense. “They will be shown mercy.” Already, but not yet.

That’s what Kingdom is for sinners like you and me! It is pure mercy that we enter it at all.

“Our sins they are many, but His... MERCY IS MORE!”

This is not a legalistic thing. “If you forgive 7 people, you will have 7 sins forgiven.”

If you are merciful to 10 people, then you will receive 10% mercy in the kingdom.

No. At the Cross, Jesus showed you lavish mercy! And in the Kingdom you will know it like you can’t imagine.

So having been shown mercy and knowing that unbelievable mercy is coming, what kind of person are you going to be?

Now, the opposite is also true. By the way, what is the opposite of “blessed” in the sense of “makarios?”

It’s not cursing per se.

It’s “woe.”

In chapter 23, Jesus will issue some “woes” to the Pharisees.

And it’s fair to turn verse 7 around and say, “Woe to you if you will not be merciful, for you will not be shown mercy.”

To whom do you need to show mercy this week?

Because that’s living the good life.

Jesus did it. Right?

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Let’s look at the next one. V.8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”


“Flourishing are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

What does it mean to be pure in heart?

I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that you heart is 100% squeaky clean right now.

How do I know that? Verse 3.

We are poor in spirit. We don’t have what it takes.

We don’t measure up, and we know it. We have empty spiritual pockets that can’t impress God. We are sinners by nature and by choice.

I can’t be that and also be utterly holy at the heart level. Not until Jesus comes back!

This must be describing the direction my heart in which my heart is pointing.

It must be describing a pursuit of purity at the heart level.

A love for God and single-mindedness about living for Him.

A new heart that is a gift from God. That’s what He must be talking about.

I won’t be pure in heart unless God does a work in my heart.

I’ll tell you another thing that it isn’t. It isn’t purity on the outside.

I think that’s what He’s emphasizing.

Jesus is going to talk a lot in the next few chapters about not putting on a religious show on the outside and having an untransformed heart on the inside.

“Flourishing are the PURE IN HEART.”

Not just the pure in ritual.

Not just the folks who show up for church in their Sunday best.

But their hearts are far from Him.

“Flourishing are the pure in heart [WHY?] for they will see God.”


What a promise that is!

Again, it’s a promise for the Kingdom to come.

And it’s something that not even Moses got to experience. Right?

Jesus is the new and greater Moses, and He’s promising a greater experience that even Moses had.

Remember when Moses asked, “Show me your glory!”, and the LORD passed by Him and in the cleft of the rock, and all he got was a glimpse of the afterglow of His back, so to speak?

John said, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.”

And now that One is saying that the pure in heart will see God.

Revelation 22:4, “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”

I’ll say they are blessed!

I want a piece of that!

“Blessed are pure in heart.”

Does that describe you?

I’ll bet it does. I know it does for every genuine believer in this room.

Do you love God? Are you pursuing God? Not just on the outside but on the inside? From the center of your being?

If not, I invite you to repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.

And put your trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, the cleansing of sins, and the hope of eternal life, seeing the very face of God!

Jesus’ death and resurrection make it all possible to have a new heart a pure heart and be blessed.

Look at the next one. V.9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”


This doesn’t say the peaceful. It is says the peacemakers.

These are the people who pursue peace and try to make peace happen.

They are flourishing.

Peacemakers are the ones who work hard at bringing people together and act as agents of reconciliation.

They know and use the powerful words.

Let me tell you about some really powerful words that have the ability to change the direction of relationship.

Are you ready?

“I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.”

Those are some powerful words right there.

And peacemakers know them and they know how and when to use them.

Some people think they are peacemakers, but they are really (what Ken Sande calls), “peace-fakers.” They pretend there is peace where there really isn’t.

And the opposite are “peace-breakers” those who stir up trouble and bring division into relationships.

Jesus says that we are called to be peacemakers, confronting where necessary, issuing apologies where appropriate, and handing out forgiveness wherever possible.

And not just doing it ourselves but helping others to do it, too.

Guess what? That’s what a disciple looks like! That’s what Jesus’ followers do.

That’s what the kingdom looks like, and here’s the promise.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

As we live the good life, we will be recognized as offspring of God Almighty, bearing the family resemblance.


Well, it can happen now. But this is future tense, “will be.” I think it’s talking about the Kingdom.

One day, the Sons of God will be revealed.

He’s talking about us!

Those who have received Jesus. Those who believed in His name.

We are the children of God. And we’ll be recognized for as such.

And in the meantime, we pursue peace.

Are you a peacemaker?

You better be.

Because that’s what Jesus says we’re supposed to do.

And it’s what Jesus did, right? Nobody brought peace like Jesus did!

“The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.”

“He is our peace.”

Jesus is restoring shalom to the world.

That’s His mission, and we are called to join Him in it.

Where do you need to spread some peace this week?

Not faking it, but making it.

To whom might you need to say, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.” ?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Last set. V.10

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


This is the most unexpected one of the whole bunch.

Jesus still fits another twist into this before He’s done.

“Flourishing are those who have been persecuted.”

I would have never thought of that one!

Good for you! If you have experienced oppression and persecution for doing what is right.

You’re in a good place!

This one isn’t even something we do. It’s something that is done to us.

All we’re doing is seeking righteousness. We’re longing for it like in verse 6. We’re hungry and thirsty for righteousness.

And someone comes along and dings us for it!

We’re treated badly.
We’re opposed.
We’ve made enemies.

And not because we’ve done something wrong!

All we’re doing is following Jesus!

And they’re hurting us here.

In verse 11, Jesus gives one last beatitude and it’s the same one He just did.

It’s like He expands it or unpacks it.

And He personalizes it. Listen. Verse 11.

“Blessed [flourishing] are you [not just “they” out there, but “you.” He’s looking you in the eye.] when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you [catch this] because of me.”

Because you are following Jesus, you will be persecuted.

You will suffer for it.

And good on you!

You should be congratulated if you are persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

In fact, you should jump up and down with joy! V.12

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This is the one that Jesus says the most about.

Blessed are the persecuted. Why? Because they join the long line of prophets of God who were persecuted, and they will be richly rewarded.

“GREAT if your reward in heaven.”

V.10 is the same as verse 3. The persecuted get the same thing as the poor in the spirit.

They get the kingdom. They get it now. And they will get it then.

And they will be rewarded.

Three thoughts about applying that to our life today, and then we’ll be done.

First, prepare yourself for persecution.

It will come.

If our Master was persecuted, then who are we to think we will escape it?

That’s not to say that it will be the same for all of us. Not everyone will be crucified.

Some will just get (v.11) insults and slander.

But everyone who desires to follow Jesus will experience some persecution.

If we don’t, we’re doing it wrong.

And that’s persecution, not for doing things wrong, but for doing things right. “Because of righteousness.”

And second, don’t stop following Jesus because of the persecution.

It’ll get hard, but don’t stop. Don’t run away.

And don’t stop doing the other beatitudes when it gets hard.

Keep being needy, sad, lowly, and unsatisfied.

Keep being merciful!

Keep being pure at heart and being peacemakers.

Don’t stop when it gets hard.

And don’t complain about it and whine about it and demand your rights all of the time.

Instead, rejoice and be glad when you are persecuted for following Jesus.

Remember in Acts 5 when the apostles were arrested and then FLOGGED for following Jesus and what did they do when they were let out, they ran around complaining about how badly they were treated?

No. They had just been flogged, but Luke tells us, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

They knew that one day they would vindicated.

So they didn’t stop.

Instead, they celebrated.

That’s upside-down, friends.

And that’s the good life.


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)