Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ written by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirteen through thirty of the fifth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the gospel which Matthew wrote taking a different turn as we no longer find Jesus at the Jordan being baptized of John, nor do we find Jesus in the wilderness being tempted of the devil. When we come to this particular passage we find Jesus beginning His public ministry of teaching the vas’s crowds and masses which came into Him. In order to understand the full weight and significance of what is taking place in this particular passage of scripture, it is first necessary to understand and recognize what took place in the previous chapter. While the beginning of the fourth chapter of Matthews’ gospel describes Jesus in the wilderness being tempted of the devil, the latter and concluding part of the gospel describes Jesus as beginning His public ministry of healing the sick and casting out devils. It’s actually quite interesting when you consider what is taking place in this chapter and the progression of events which led up to this point. As you begin reading the fourth chapter, and after you read concerning Jesus in the wilderness having a showdown with the devil, you find the first words He spoke publicly—at least according to Matthew—being recorded. At the Jordan river we find Jesus speaking to John the Baptist concerning permitting His baptism in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled. In the wilderness we find Jesus talking back to the devil and resisting his temptations by using and quoting the word of God. Immediately after Jesus we merged from the wilderness we find Him preaching repentance, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Please make note of this, for the people we’re already being prepared for the kingdom of heaven through the preaching of John the Baptist, who not only called them to repentance, but also passed them through the waters of baptism unto repentance.
It’s important to note that immediately upon emerging from the wilderness full of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus began declaring unto men that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Jesus continued the message which His cousin John the Baptist preached and proclaimed by calling men and women to repentance. Thus, what we have is the messenger and the Messiah preparing men and women to receive and experience the kingdom of heaven through and by repentance. What’s more, is that after we read Jesus’ call to repent in preparing to receive and experience the kingdom of heaven, we find Him entering into a region of intense spiritual darkness. Matthew quotes the words of the prophet Isaiah when he writes and speaks of the people who sat in darkness beholding a great light, and upon those who sat beneath the shadow of death, the light has come upon them. The fourth chapter of the gospel of Matthew concludes with Jesus engaging Himself in a powerful display of the glory and power of God, as He healed all those who came unto, and all those who were brought unto Him. In the final verses of the fourth chapter we find Jesus healing the sick, casting out demons, and healing all those with the palsy, and all those that were lunatic. By the time the fourth chapter of the gospel of Matthew draws to a close, it does so with the apostle writing concerning a game beginning to arise in the land concerning Jesus Christ. As the fourth chapter draws to a close, it does so with countless sick being brought unto Him in order that He might heal them of their infirmity. Please don’t the incredible significance of this fact, for what we find here is an additional form of preparation of men for the coming and receiving of the kingdom of heaven. What we find in this particular chapter is a wonderful and powerful picture—not only of heart preparation, but also physical preparation for the receiving of the kingdom of heaven. What we find by the time the fourth chapter of the gospel of Matthew concludes is a wonderful and powerful picture of heart preparation for the arrival and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven through repentance and baptism unto repentance. What’s more, is that we find a physical preparation as well, for we read how Jesus began healing the sick and casting out devils.
When we talk about preparation for receiving the kingdom of heaven, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand the need for heart and inner preparation, as well as physical and external preparation. I am convinced that in order to prepare the earth for the arrival and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, there was not only the need for heart preparation through repentance, but there was also the need for physical preparation as well. I absolutely love how Matthew records how Jesus healed all the sick and cast out devils which tormented and oppressed men and women, for not only did Jesus seek to bring forgiveness to the hearts and souls of men, but Jesus also sought to heal and release them from that which oppressed, and that which tormented them. We cannot, we dare not, we must not miss or lose sight of this wonderful and powerful reality, for to do so would be to miss out on that which the Spirit of the Lord desires to speak unto us. I absolutely love how while it was true that Jesus called men to repentance, He also sought to heal all who were sick, and to cast out the devils which oppressed those who were present in the earth. How absolutely wonderful it is that in addition to preparing men and women for the arrival and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven through repentance and baptism, Jesus also sought to prepare men and women through delivering them from that which oppressed them. This is interesting and worth noting, for during this time period the Roman Empire ruled and reigned over the earth, and controlled everything within Judaea and the surrounding region. This is important, for there were many who were looking for deliverance from the tyrant and oppression of the Romans, and weren’t paying any attention to a different need for deliverance and freedom. During this time period there were countless men and women who were looking for the Messiah to cast of the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Empire, and weren’t paying any attention to an even deeper, and more personal deliverance and freedom that was needed. This is actually quite remarkable and astonishing, for more often than not we think we have need in one area within our lives, and completely miss out on the fact that there is something deeper that is needed. There were many who thought and believed that the greatest need for their lives was to be delivered out from under Roman tyranny and oppression, and they had absolutely no clue or idea that there was something much deeper, and something much more serious at work behind the scenes. What we must recognize is that when Jesus Christ came as the Messiah and Savior of the world, He didn’t come that He might cast off Roman tyranny and oppression, but in order that He might bring an inner deliverance and freedom that plagued the hearts and minds of men and women. What’s more, is that Jesus came in order that He might cast off that which oppressed, and that which plagued and haunted men and women—perhaps for years.
Consider if you will that which is recorded in the fourth chapter of the gospel written by Matthew beginning with the seventeenth verse of the fourth chapter. I am convinced that before we can even get into that which is found and recorded within the fifth chapter of the gospel which Matthew wrote, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the path that led to the proclamation of the kingdom, and kingdom living. What’s more, and in addition to what we find and read in the fourth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, I am convinced that it is worth noting and mentioning the words which John the Baptist preached and proclaimed unto all those who came unto him—including Roman soldiers, Pharisees, and all those from the surrounding regions of the earth. Begin reading with me starting with the seventeenth verse of the fourth chapter of the gospel according to Matthew:
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith u not them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed Him. And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of diseases among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan” (Matthew 4:17-25).
With these words we find the preparation of the people in the surrounding region of Judaea and Samaria for the arrival and emergence of the kingdom of heaven by Jesus Christ Himself. Within this particular passage of Scripture—not only do we find Jesus preparing men and women for the arrival and emergence of the kingdom of heaven by and through repentance, but also through and according to a physical deliverance of that which plagued, that which oppressed, that which tormented them. What I so love about what we find and read in this passage of Scripture is that Jesus wasn’t only concerned with bringing an inner deliverance and freedom, but He was also just as much interested as bringing about a physical healing—and in some cases, a physical transformation. What we find in the final portion of the fourth chapter is a Jesus who recognized that there was a much deeper oppression that tormented and plagued men and women during that time period, and it wasn’t the tyranny and oppression of Rome. I am sure there were a number of men and women who thought and believed that their greatest need was to be delivered out from under the oppression of the Roman Empire, and had absolutely no idea or clue that what they had need of was a much deeper deliverance and oppression. Oh, how many times do we miss the deliverance and freedom that is right in front of us, and right before our eyes because we are too busy looking for and expecting something different? How many times do we expect a deliverance and freedom from something that is entirely different from that which we really and ultimately have need of, and we jeopardize receiving the deliverance and freedom that is necessary? We spend so much time looking for deliverance and freedom in other areas, and yet we aren’t aware of that one thing which we ultimately have need of within our hearts and lives. Jesus recognized and understood that while it was true that Roman tyranny and Roman oppression was present within the land, and that it a dark shadow over the earth—there was something much deeper, and something much more pressing that was required and necessary. I know that there have been countless times in my life when I have looked for deliverance and healing in a certain area of my life, and yet I wasn’t aware of the fact that there was something altogether different—perhaps something that was right before me in front of my eyes—that I have been missing. When you read the words which the apostle Matthew wrote and recorded in this passage of Scripture, you not only find the tremendous need for heart healing and heart deliverance, but you also find the tremendous need for physical deliverance, and physical freedom. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Matthew recorded concerning the ministry of John the Baptist when he emerged onto the scene in preparation for the coming of the Messiah:
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (matthew 3:1-12).
The words which we find spoken by John the Baptist which are found in the third chapter of the gospel according to matthew are mirrored and echoed by the beloved physician Luke in the gospel account of Jesus Christ which he wrote. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found and recorded in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel according to Luke, you will find the beloved physician writing concerning the ministry of John the Baptist, and adding something different that matthew didn’t within his gospel. I seek to include that which Luke wrote within his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, for it shines a tremendous light on the deep preparation that took place for the emergence and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. If we are to truly understand the emergence of the kingdom of heaven within the earth, and that which is found and recorded in the fifth chapter of the gospel written by Matthew, it is absolutely necessary that we understand the wonderful and powerful preparation that took place in Judaea, in Jerusalem, and in the surrounding regions—not only within the hearts and minds of men and women, but also within and upon their physical bodies. Consider if you will the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote and recorded in the third chapter of the gospel of Jesus Christ beginning with the first verse of the third chapter:
“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being Tetrarch of galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea, and of the region of Trachonities, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the starvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be contented with your wages. And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the. Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people” (Luke 3:1-18).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to that which we find, and that which we read in these three passages of Scripture, for these passages bring us face to face with the wonderful and powerful reality that prior to the arrival and emergence of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth, there was a deep and powerful transformation that needed to take place within the hearts and lives of those present at that time. It would be very easy to get caught up in the fact that Rome was the dominant superpower at this time, and controlled much—if not all—of the known world. There were many who could not get past the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Empire during that time, and there were even zealots who emerged during that time who incited riots and rebellions against the Roman Empire. There were those during that time who sought to strike at the heart of the Roman Empire within Judaea and the surrounding region by inciting men and women to engage themselves in violence against the Roman soldiers and regiments present within the land. There were different groups of individuals present during that time who sought to incite rebellion and rioting among the masses in order that through violence, rioting and rebellion they might cast and throw off Roman oppression, and Roman tyranny. It is worth noting that such individuals were completely unaware of the deep need that was found to be present within their hearts and lives—one that was completely separate and independent from the oppression of the Roman Empire. It might be said that there were men and women present within this time who cried out under the tremendous oppression of the Roman Empire—much like the children of Israel did several centuries earlier when they were enslaved by the Egyptians, and as taskmasters were appointed over them to further oppress them. There is not a doubt in my mind that there were countless men and women who were present during that time who thought that the greatest need they had was to be delivered out from under the government of Rome, and even expected the Messiah to arrive and to cast off such authority, such dominion, and such power within the earth. I can’t get over and escape the fact that there were during that time a group of individuals known as zealots who sought to engage themselves in violence against the Roman Empire by inciting massive riots and rebellions within the land. Little did these individuals know, nor were they aware of the fact that the type of freedom and deliverance they needed was not a freedom and deliverance from the government of Rome, but rather a freedom of their heart, and a freedom of their mind, and a freedom of that which oppressed their physical bodies. Consider how many came unto Jesus, and how many were brought unto Jesus who were utterly and completely tormented by evil spirits and demonic forces that oppressed them continually day after day and night after night. I would present unto the question of what is the greater need—to be delivered out from under the oppression and tyranny of the Roman Empire, or being delivered out from under the oppression and tyranny of the forces of darkness that were so pervasive during that time.
I am utterly and completely convinced that when we come to the fifth chapter of the gospel according to Matthew, what we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful teaching concerning the kingdom of heaven, and what it looks and sounds like when it is manifested within the earth. ESTABLISHING A KINGDOM WITHIN AN EMPIRE! If I were to ask you right now whether or not you thought it was possible for a kingdom to be established within an empire, would you respond by emphatically declaring that such a reality would and could be possible? In your natural mind, do you think and even believe that it is possible for a kingdom to be established within an empire—particularly and especially within and under the authority and dominion of an empire as large as Rome was during that time? Would you believe for one moment that it was humanly possible for a secondary kingdom to be stablished within an empire—and not only be established within and under the umbrella of that empire, but also rise to eclipse that empire? When I read the words which our Lord spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount, I can’t help but be confronted with the tremendous and wonderful reality that what He was seeking to do with and through this teaching was establish the kingdom of heaven within the earth. What’s more, is that not only was Jesus Christ seeking to establish the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth, but Jesus was establishing the kingdom of heaven directly within and in the midst of the Roman Empire. In fact, this is what is so unique about Herod’s attempt to strike dead the young child Jesus, for the wise men came unto him speaking of Him who was born king of the Jews. For Herod, the emergence of one who was called the King of the Jews threatened the system, and threatened the government and authority that was found present within the earth during that time. One thing we must recognize and understand is that when Jesus came to the earth, He came to bring with Him the kingdom of heaven in order that it might be manifested within the earth. What I so love, and what I so appreciate when reading the words which our Lord spoke in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel is how Jesus is beginning to establish a kingdom that would emerge and rise up in the midst of, and in spite of the empire that was the dominant and controlling authority and government during that time. When Jesus came to the earth, he came preaching and bringing with Him a completely different authority, and a completely different government than that which was exercised by the Roman Empire. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the interpretation of the dream which Nebuchadnezzar had in Babylon, and how the interpretation of that dream directly applies to what we find during the times of Jesus Christ within the earth. Consider if you will the interpretation of the dream as it was presented and unveiled to Nebuchadnezzar by Daniel:
“This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O k ing, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and these, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the towers of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure” (Daniel 2:36-45).
AND IN THE DAYS OF THESE KINGS SHALL THE GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM! Pay close attention to these words, for in the fourth chapter of Matthew’s gospel concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ we find Jesus beginning to announce and speak of the kingdom fo heaven—a declaration which had already begun through and with the ministry of John the Baptist. I have to admit that I am absolutely and utterly amazed that no one questioned the kingdom which both John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ spoke about. Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ spoke of the arrival and emergence of the kingdom of heaven, and I am amazed that Rome itself was not set on fire at that time wondering what this kingdom was about, and wondering what this kingdom would be like. Rome appears to be silent during this time concerning this kingdom which both John and Jesus spoke about—despite the fact that there were zealots during this time who thought that the answer was rising up and inciting riots and rebellions within the land. There were men and women who were present during that time who believed the words which Jesus and John spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven, and lived their lives in light of the reality of the kingdom of heaven—a kingdom that was not only present within and manifested upon the earth, but one that was present within their very beings. When we come to the fifth chapter of the gospel of Matthew and begin reading with “the Beattitudes,” we begin to see a picture forming surrounding this kingdom of heaven. If we are going to truly understand what this kingdom of heaven looks like—not only must we understand that it is one that is completely different from any other kingdom that was set up and established in the earth, but also that it took the law and flipped it on its head and turned it upside down. The fifth chapter of the gospel written by Matthew begins with the same multitudes which began following Him in the previous chapter continuing to follow Him. Upon seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain, and upon being set, His disciples came unto Him. It was at this point where He began to open His mouth and teach them concerning the kingdom of heaven. I believe with all my heart that what we find, and what we read in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the gospel according to Matthew is a wonderful and powerful picture of what the kingdom of heaven would like—this kingdom which would rise up and emerge within the land during the time of the Roman Empire. Oh, I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped and amazed by the fact that Jesus came to the earth and set up and established a kingdom within the Roman Empire, and right underneath the nose of Rome. I am convinced that perhaps the biggest reason why many during that time had absolutely no clue about the kingdom being established within the Roman Empire is because it looked so radically different from the Roman Empire. If you read the words which Jesus spoke in these three chapters, you will find that He began preaching and teaching concerning a kingdom that was altogether different from what men and women were expecting.
That which we find in the fifth chapter of the gospel written by Matthew is a wonderful and powerful picture of the kingdom of heaven, and what that kingdom would look like within the earth. The first twelve verses of the fifth chapter describe for us what would be known as “the Beattitudes,” which is a compilation of statements made by Jesus which describe the attitude and mindset of those who not only have this kingdom dwelling and present within their lives, but also those who exercise the principles of this kingdom. I am convinced that what we find, and what we read in this passage of Scripture is a wonderful and powerful picture of the core principles and foundation of the kingdom of heaven—one that would be characterized by these different “be-attitudes,”—these “attitudes of the kingdom.” I am firmly convinced that what is found within the opening portion of the fifth chapter is a description of the attitudes of the kingdom as displayed by Jesus’ words which each begin with the wonderful word “blessed.” Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in this passage of Scripture beginning with the third verse, and continuing through to the twelfth verse of the same chapter:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revolve you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).
If we are to truly and properly understand what was written concerning this kingdom of heaven, we must understand that it begins with these core attitudes of the kingdom, which stand as the basis and foundation of the kingdom itself. What we find in the opening twelve verses of the fifth chapter is the core manifestation of the kingdom which surrounds the very mindset of those who would seek to walk in the fulness and reality of this kingdom. As you continue reading the words which Jesus spoke in this Sermon on the Mount, you will find that the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven didn’t merely confront the government of Rome with the manifestation and reality of heaven, but it also directly confronted the Law which was given several centuries earlier to Moses. What we must recognize and must understand concerning the kingdom of heaven is that not only did it directly challenge the Roman Empire through a specific set of core attitudes which included being poor in spirit, mourning, meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful, being pure in heart, being peacemakers, and even being persecuted and reviled, but we also find it directly challenging it with light which sines in the darkness. Jesus—this one who emerged as a great light to those who sat in darkness—not commanded and instructed us to walk upon the earth as the salt of the earth, and as the light which shines in the darkness. Jesus instructed us to “let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven.” Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this message, for it wonderfully and powerfully brings us face to face with the fact that the kingdom of heaven—although it directly challenged the government and authority of Rome—did not do so according to earthly or natural means, but through a very specific set of attitudes and core mindsets that radically changed and transformed men and women from the inside out.