This fall we are starting a deep dive study of the Sermon on the Mount. I hope you will join us. To get the full thrust I encourage you to watch the YouTube videos at 721ministries.org.
The Sermon on the Mount (SoM) is the “Messianic Torah.” It is the Constitution of the Kingdom of God.1 Jesus lays out a picture of what living in the Kingdom of God, here, now, looks like. As we study the SoM we are not looking for laws, we are looking for life.
Do not miss that: life, not laws.
Even a quick look at Jesus’ teachings reveals that his focus, his thrust, throughout his earthly ministry, was on “Life in the Kingdom of God.” Consider his declaration at the outset of his public ministry:
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come.” (Matthew 4:17)
When he sent out the Twelve, and later the seventy-two disciples, he instructed them:
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come.’” Matthew 10:7
“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come.’” (Luke 10:9)
And at the end of his earthly ministry, after his resurrection, but before his ascension to heaven, consider his emphasis during his final days with his disciples:
He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3 )
Let us pause for a moment and think about that. Jesus has a limited period of time to teach his beloved followers in person one last time. He will be ascending to heaven soon. What does he emphasize? The same thing he has been emphasizing for the previous three-plus years: Life in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus wants you to know that you can live in the Kingdom now. As Dallas Willard said, “If you want to go to heaven, go now.”
My goal today, as an introduction to the SoM, is to get you thinking in terms of living in the kingdom now. What that would look like. Today. As you drive around. As you work or go through your day. As you lay your head down tonight.
And, hopefully, to consider what this life in the kingdom could look like, before you begin to attack, counterattack, fuss at, argue with, judge, condemn, lust after, lecture, talk down to, power up on, or whatever is typical of your life in your kingdom.
And finally, to put a grand exclamation point on Jesus’ kingdom of God teaching, let’s look closely at an early episode in Acts. The disciples have been arrested and are in jail. During the night an angel shows up and miraculously escorts them out. The angel then says this:
“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” (Acts 5:20 Bold added)
I would have expected the angel to instruct them to say something like, “Go tell them about Jesus and his resurrection.” Or, “Go tell the people about Jesus’ teachings and parables and miracles.” But in essence the angel said,
“Go tell the people about this new life … Life in the Kingdom of God … that is now available to them. Tell them they have heaven on earth now!”
“and tell the people all about this new life.”
It is a new life, not your old life polished up. It is a new life in the Kingdom of God, not an improved life in your kingdom. No! New wine for new wineskins! My desire is to so infect your mind – and mine – with this new perspective of Kingdom living, available to us now, that we are consistently going through each day with this new perspective:
“Whatever it is I am doing, right now, I am doing it in my Father’s kingdom.”
Now that would be a new way to live, wouldn’t it?
Next Week: Life in the Flow of the Kingdom
1The Passion Translation