This sermon was preached today by our student minister, Hanna.
I trust you will be as blessed in the reading as I was in the hearing
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Today in Matthew’s gospel we have one of the most famous sayings of Jesus. And it’s just been read to us from the Good News translation which uses Happy instead of the traditional blessed. But nevertheless this is a very familiar passage.
I found, that when I read the passage again this week. I was struck by the phrase ‘and seeing the multitudes’ which incidentally is not in the Good News translation – The Good News says – Jesus saw the crowds.' What is important, though – and the emphasis …. Is Jesus; seeing, noticing, appreciating that there is a crowd – and Jesus’ desire is to provide for them.
Jesus is God’s provision for the world. His ministry is about coming alongside all peoples and finding them where they are. He goes out to find them and provides for them. Whether it be food, healing or forgiveness from sin. Until ultimately Jesus provides for us in death. Jesus pays with his life to conquer death, provide freedom from our sin and eternal life, in the resurrection.And here he sees the multitude and he sees their need and in the ever-compassionate way of Jesus begins to teach because he knows what they need.
Jesus sees …. and, knows what they need.
And here the beatitudes are given – beatitudes comes from the Latin translation, beatus means happy- these are sayings of happiness.Is this really happiness? And on the face of it – is this a great provision from Jesus? It seems a bit foolish to be ‘happy’ when you are persecuted. Is it wise to be happy when someone insults you? Shouldn’t you retaliate? Now here the use of the word ‘happy’ in this translation helps to back up the notion that this message is foolish as Paul says in Corinthians which is our second reading today. You may remember we talked of the foolishness of God’s plan last week. We pick up from where we left off.
Where Paul talks of the ‘so-called foolishness of this message’ the message Jesus brings, Paul also says what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than any human wisdom.Paul tells us that ‘God has made Christ, Jesus, to be our wisdom’. And with Jesus as our wisdom… we know that this message he preaches is not Foolishness.
Here in chapter 5 of Matthew we are relatively early into the story of Jesus ministry. Last week we heard of how Jesus called his disciples and before that we remembered that Jesus was baptised by John. At that baptism he was anointed by the Holy Spirit, anointed by God, affirmed by God.
And even before that Jesus was blessed. You may recall the angel said to Mary; ‘blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb’; blessed is the baby you are carrying. Jesus blessed before birth. He was always blessed.
I’d like to suggest that the beatitudes are a prophecy, here at the beginning of this gospel a foretelling of what Jesus life is. The beatitudes are a revelation of what it is to be Christ like.
And this is what that looks like:Blessed is Jesus who wept at his friend’s grave – he is comfortedBlessed is Jesus who is humble, Jesus receives Gods promiseBlessed is Jesus who’s greatest desire is to do the will of God, God satisfies Jesus!Blessed is Jesus who is merciful to others; Mercy is shown to Jesus!Blessed is Jesus who is pure in heart; Jesus Sits on the right hand of God! Blessed is Jesus who works for peace; God calls Jesus his son! Blessed is Jesus who was persecuted because he did what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to Jesus! Blessed is Jesus when people insult him and persecute him and tell all kinds of evil lies against him, Jesus remains blessed and glad, for a great reward belongs to Jesus in heaven.Doesn’t this illustrate who Jesus is? And through it Jesus remains blessed, yes blessed and… happy….
Jesus goes through all of this and the blessing never leaves him.All the while Jesus continues to carry the anointing, the blessing from God … Jesus is the Blessed one.And this description that I’ve illustrated – is what it meant for Jesus to take on human form.Jesus Christ’s life is an example that we can follow. It is in his life and witness that we can put our trust in –
As Paul points out it was deemed foolish to follow Jesus. The cross was an offence and yet we know the power of the cross- that even in the darkest hour Jesus remained blessed.
Although it may seem foolish for others, how wise it is for us to take on the mind of Jesus. Just as Jesus took on human form, so too we can take on the form of Jesus. Take on the wisdom, Take on the mind of Christ.
And the wisdom is that through it all we are blessed.
We are that crowd and each one of us here today is blessed by God.Yes! We will remain blessed through it all.
We were blessed yesterday we are blessed today and we will remain blessed tomorrow, how happy we are!God sees all his children, God sees the crowd.He is sensitive to our pain, he sees us in our doubting in our confusion, in our feeling of inadequacy. He sees us and says ‘blessed are you.’What a comfort that we are always favoured and blessed by God.What a joy! Amen.