Week 1: Matthew 5: Upside down blessings Discussion Questions

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1 Week 1: Matthew 5: Upside down blessings Discussion Questions 1. Many people say they live their life by the Sermon on the Mount. What are some of the famous sayings from the sermon which people may recall? 2. To whom is the sermon addressed? And who is listening in? (See 5:1-2 and 7:28-29) 3. What did Jesus call would-be disciples to do in the passages leading up to the beginning of ch 5? 4. How hard is this to do? What do you find most hard? 5. What does this passage (5:1-12) specifically tell us to do? 6. In the sermon, it was made clear that there is only one person being described here with eight characteristics. There are not some Christians who are meek and others who are merciful etc. No, the description is of every true believer. Share a little about the meaning of each on the left of the table below. Blessed are...are... the poor in spirit those who mourn are the meek those who hunger and thirst for righteousness the merciful the pure in heart those who are persecuted because of righteousness For theirs... /for they is the Kingdom of heaven will be comforted will inherit the earth will be filled will be shown mercy will see God is the kingdom of heaven 7. In the sermon, it was also made clear that all the blessings belong to each and every believer. Share a little about each aspect of the blessings and their appropriateness. 8. Why does Jesus virtually guarantee that if you are his disciple, you will face persecution? 9. There was one action point which Mark commended in response to the passage (remember nothing is actually commanded in the passage!). Do you recall what it was? How can we do that better? And how will that change the way we see both our present and our future? 10. What would you say to someone who says I have no idea what Mark was talking about regarding being poor in spirit and mourning over sin and hungering for righteousness?

2 Sermon on the Mount Radically counter-cultural # 1 Upside down blessings Matthew 5: Background 2. Nothing to do 3. The way it is 4. How blessed are we! Every now and again - once a year for many - companies take a stock take. The idea is to count and record all your stock and to reconcile it with your records of orders and sales. At church at present - asset register - good stewards; insurance and depreciation. Clear picture of what you have... Maybe you've done this personally... Old hymn - count your blessings... Today we're going to do just that... We re going to take an inventory of what is ours what is ours not because we ve earned it or bought it, but our through God s grace. As Jesus begins what we've come to call the Sermon on the Mount (SOM), he begins with an overwhelming list of blessings Blessed are you blessed are you Who are these blessings for? And what does it mean to be blessed? Who is Jesus actually talking to? Background. Last week crowds and crowds 3:25 Is this the audience? Yes and no! 5:1 now 7:28-29 they had been listening in But it s to disciples Jesus is speaking about discipleship. Who are the disciples? Jesus call? Repent and follow This is addressed to those who have repented and followed dropped everything to put Jesus first.

3 I want to remind you how hard that it is! To repent so you are no longer calling the shots. To decisively turn aside from sin you ve loved To love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. To love your neighbor as yourself. And to follow not physically but just as profound Put him first before career and recreation even family! To live for him. To have as your first desire the promotion of his glorious news. Everything everything else in life is second to Jesus! That s what it means to follow. This is hard. But most of us here today have taken that great momentous step We walk in this world to a different drum beat Our passions, priorities, interests, are different. Some think we re completely mad but we don t mind For there is no other way we d rather live. There s no other way that makes sense of the world. There s no other hope. No other answers. But although it s hard to repent and follow and perhaps some of them were feeling that right now There is great blessing. Untold immeasurable blessing Let s explore the list. Did you notice there s nothing to do here?? At no time in these opening sentences does Jesus tell us to do anything! There s no rebuke, there s no command; there s no direction given No this is a statement An inventory an asset register like no other. Let s have a look at the description first of all at the recipients and then at the blessing that belongs to each one

4 Blessed are...are... the poor in spirit those who mourn are the meek those who hunger and thirst for righteousness the merciful the pure in heart those who are persecuted because of righteousness For theirs... /for they is the Kingdom of heaven will be comforted will inherit the earth will be filled will be shown mercy will see God is the kingdom of heaven So then who are these people on the left? Is it a group here who are poor in spirit? And some over here who hunger and thirst for righteousness? And some really out there keen ones who get persecuted? NO! These are ALL characteristics of the one and the same person. This is a description of a wait for it Christian!! pattern through the left over time - everyone begins at step 1 and goes on to step 2 (although it s not always as predictable as that!) the poor in spirit those who mourn are the meek those who hunger and thirst for righteousness the merciful Recognising you re done for spiritually... nothing to bring to Christ... nothing to boast in... For sin... and its seriousness and for the broken relationship... Not week but willing to use their strength in the service of others That inside ache that so longs to be better... longs to please God in every way Because only too aware of the

5 the pure in heart those who are persecuted because of righteousness mercy that s been shown you in Christ s death and resurrection Because you ve mourned... because you ve had that hunger... you re becoming increasingly pure... wanting what is right and good Just inevitable... inevitable for those who follow Christ If you re a Christian here this morning I m absolutely sure you recognise yourself here. In brokenness you ve called out Lord have mercy on me a sinner You ve grieved over your sin in shame and sorrow You ve become meek in the service of the one who was meek for you You long to change and grow You delight to show mercy You re becoming pure in heart And yes, you re regularly being given a hard time for your ridiculous ways! That s just the way it is when you ve repented and followed Christ. That s just what happens Now look with me at the blessings!! is the Kingdom of heaven will be comforted will inherit the earth will be filled will be shown mercy will see God is the kingdom of heaven Again this is a package deal it s not that some get one bit and another one of other things mentioned.

6 Book ends Kingdom of Heaven (KOH) Every Christian every disciple who has repented and followed will have a place in God s eternity. In God s new creation. New heavens and new earth. All of his grace. His gift. And every believer will be comforted over their grief of sin because God, through Jesus death removes our sin as far from us as the east is from the west!! Every believer will inherit the earth the new earth of the new creation Every believer who hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be filled filled with what righteousness transformed from one degree of glory to another and finally perfected in the kingdom to come when we will be perfectly without sin without spot or blemish! Every believer shown mercy mercy now mercy at the end Every believer will see God in all his glory do you remember Rev 22 and they shall see his face!!! And for the persecuted or even the slightly ridiculed v 11 have a look blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. As Jesus starts this teaching to those who are probably counting the cost of repenting and following he says see how blessed you are! See how good God is His blessings are immeasurable We re completely undeserving But he showers on us... one blessing after another. Every believer here this morning knows from their depths of their heart the path of the left hand side I want every believer here this morning to know just as clearly the blessings of the right hand side And to revel in them One final thing to say if you haven t got a clue what I ve been talking about this morning all this poverty of spirit and mourning for sin and hungering and thirsting for righteousness then we need to talk for either you haven t understood the Christian life or you re not there yet and I d love to sit and explain to you how you can be sure and how you can embrace all this great blessing for your own.

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