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July 2012

Salt of the earth

Colossians 4:2-6; Matthew 5:13 If we call someone “the salt of the earth” we usually mean they’re real, honest, straight-talking, uncomplicated and dependable.  Jesus had something else in mind.  Although figuring out what exactly is not easy. Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with the beatitudes in which He proclaims the present-tense blessedness of […]

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

1 Peter 4:12-19; Matthew 5:10-12 The beatitudes describe the life of the King and therefore the life of the kingdom.  They begin and end by speaking of those to whom the kingdom “belongs”– the poor in spirit (v3) and the persecuted (v10).  And in between there seems to be a progression.  We might imagine a […]

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God

2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Matthew 5:9 To be the child of a great ruler is an incredible privilege.  Others can grab precious minutes with your father if they are very important.  But you, without any of their qualifications, belong at the very heart of power. Others will call him King or President, you will call him Daddy. […]

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God

Psalm 24; Matthew 5:8 – I see through you. – My eyes are open. – I long to see the world. If a person has experienced their fair share of impurity we might say they’ve “seen it all.”  On the other hand, we call the naive person “blinkered”:  “Those innocents – bless ‘em – they’re blind to real […]

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

Deuteronomy 10:14-22; Matthew 5:7 We all know the sayings: – Credit where none is due. – Don’t get mad, get reconciled. – God helps those who are helpless themselves. – Every lunch is a free lunch. – It’s a dog help dog world. – Survival of the feeblest… Alright I made those ones up. But […]

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled

Genesis 15:1-6; Matthew 5:6 From the Bible we can think of “righteousness” in these terms: – the goodness of God. – the blessed life in action. – setting the world to rights. When seen in its true light, righteousness is incredibly attractive.  And incredibly elusive. From its first mention in the Bible, “righteousness” is a […]

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

Psalm 37; Matthew 5:5 In The Life of Brian we join the outskirts of Christ’s audience for the sermon on the mount.  “The meek shall inherit the earth” filters through to one listener: “Oh that’s nice innit, I’m glad they get something cos they have a hell of a time.” It’s a brilliant line.  But Jesus […]

Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted

Psalm 55; Matthew 5:4 What could be more nonsensical than this?  Or insensitive?  “Blessed are they that mourn”? In my Greek lexicons the word that invariably appears next to “Blessed” is “Happy”.  It’s a word denoting a prosperous and favourable condition.  Some dictionaries list “blissful” as a synonym!  So how on earth can Jesus call […]

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Isaiah 61; Matthew 5:3 According to Matthew, Jesus comes as King to bring the true end to exile (Matthew 1:1-17).   He is named as “Saviour” and “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25).  He is the desire of all nations (Matthew 2:1-12) who is also the true Israel – going down into Egypt and rising back up […]

Verily, verily I say unto thee

John 1:35-51 It’s a phrase that sounds quintessentially “King James” – quintessentially 17th century.  But, as with so many “King James” phrases, it originates with Tyndale in the 16th century. “Verily” (meaning truly) translates the word “Amen” which is a Hebrew word left untranslated in the Greek New Testament.  So, most literally, Jesus says “Amen, […]