Intentional Investment: People Gravitate Toward Those Who Give of Themselves to Invest In Others

Today’s selected passage continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ which was written by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this New Testament book. As you come to this particular section of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find the account of what has become known as Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. Chapters five through seven of this New Testament gospel would be that Sermon and those words Jesus would deliver fairly early on during His public life and ministry in the land of Judaea. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is one that has long fascinated and has long been of interest to biblical scholars, students, historians, teachers and authors throughout the years, as the words and language which is found and contained within it is a tremendous and powerful call to righteousness within the earth—and not only a righteousness that is earthly, carnal and natural, but rather is a righteousness that proceeds from heaven itself, and is a righteousness of the Father who is seated upon the throne. You cannot read the words found within these chapters and not encounter and come face to face with a powerful call that was being issued by Jesus the Christ to those who would seek to follow and walk with Him—a call and invitation to pursue a greater righteousness than that which they had previously known and perhaps even had devoted and committed themselves to. The Sermon on the Mount is such a powerful message which was proclaimed and spoken by Jesus the Christ, for within it we find Jesus addressing a number of issues within the life of those within that generation—and not only those within that generation, but also those who would be present within each and every generation that would come forth and be manifested in the earth from that time onward. In fact, what we must understand concerning the Sermon on the Mount is that it has tremendous implications and applications unto us within our generation, and we must needs seek to not only read the words which are contained therein, but to also put the words which are found within this message into practice within our own hearts and lives. The Sermon on the Mount is a truly wonderful invitation into a righteousness that has not originated and does not originate within the earth, but is a righteousness that proceeds forth and comes from heaven itself—a righteousness which is desired and demanded by the living and eternal God of heaven and earth.

            Before you delve into the words which are found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount it is absolutely necessary that you consider the words which were written in the gospel narrative presented by the apostle Matthew. I am convinced that you cannot understand the Sermon on the Mount without looking at and examining the words which conclude the fourth chapter, for the words found in those verses help set the stage for what we find in chapters five through seven of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find that after Jesus returned unto Judaea after being tempted of the devil in the wilderness He would being preaching in the hearing of men during those days calling to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Immediately following Matthew’s declaration that Jesus began inviting and calling men to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, Jesus would call the first of His twelve disciples, as He would call Simon also called Peter and his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John. Within the fourth chapter of this gospel narrative we find Jesus inviting and calling these four fishermen to leave everything behind, and to follow Him that He might make them fishers of men. In fact, Scripture records how Simon and is brother Andrew straightway left their nets and followed Jesus, and how James and his brother John immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Jesus the Christ. By the time we come to the twenty-third verse of the gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus having been baptized of John the Baptist in the Jordan River, we find Jesus having been tempted of the devil in the wilderness, we find Jesus beginning to preach and call men to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and we find Jesus calling the first of those disciples which would follow Him.

            It is with all this in mind and before we get into the words found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that we must needs look at how the fourth chapter of this gospel narrative concludes, as I am convinced the words which are found in the final verses of the fourth chapter help set the stage for that which is found in chapters five through seven of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In fact, if you read the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew—specifically the interaction of Jesus with those during that generation—you will find a great amount of language concerning Jesus and His interaction with the multitudes, with the crowds, and with the masses. Time and time again within and throughout the gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus ministering unto the crowds, the mases, and the multitudes who would gather themselves unto Him that they might not only listen to the words which He would teach and speak, but also that they might be healed of their sicknesses, their diseases, and their illnesses. Upon reading the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew one might even say that Jesus was perhaps most comfortable and most at home among the crowds and among the multitudes. More often than not within the gospel narrative written by this apostle of Christ we find Jesus continually and constantly among the crowds and among the multitudes, as He would regularly be surrounded and sought out by all those who were in need. This reality of Jesus being manifested in the midst of crowds and multitudes would be found in the final verses of the fourth chapter, and would help set the stage for what is found in the fifth chapter. Within the final verses of the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus’ ministry among the crowds and among the multitudes, while in the fifth chapter we essentially find a different element and aspect of Jesus’ movement in the midst of, and His interaction with the crowds and the masses. With this in mind, consider if you will the following words which are found in the final three verses of the fourth chapter, as well as the words which are found in the opening verse of the fifth chapter:

            “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 disease 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 lunatic, 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 4:23-25).

            “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them” (Matthew 5:1).

            INTRODUCING THE MULTITUDES! INTRODUCING THE CROWDS! ENTER THE MASSES! THE MANIFESTATION OF THE MULTITUDES! THE MANFIESTATION OF THE CROWDS! THE CROWDS BEGIN TO GATHER! As you come to the final verses of the fourth chapter you will find a transition taking place from it being just Jesus calling and inviting men to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand to Jesus and four disciples who would leave everything to begin walking with and following Him. By the time we come to the final verses of the fourth chapter, however, we find this taking on an entirely different level as it would metastasize beyond simply Jesus and these two sets of brothers to now great multitudes walking with and following Jesus. In the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus crying out inviting men to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand” to now teaching in the synagogues within Galilee, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. What’s more, is that not only do we find Jesus teaching in the synagogues of Galilee, and not only do we find Him preaching the gospel of the kingdom, but we find Him actively being involved in the lives of those whom He would encounter, and those who would seek to come unto Him. In the final verses of the fourth chapter we find it written how Jesus would heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. As a direct result of His teaching in the synagogues, as a direct result of His preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and now healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease a fame would go out concerning Jesus. Eventually reports would begin circulating in the region of Judaea, in the region of Galilee, in the Decaoplis, in Jerusalem, and even in Samaria, and men and women would seek out Jesus that they might be healed of whatever sickness and illness was plaguing them. If we are to understand the concept of great multitudes which is found repeatedly and consistently within the gospel narrative of the apostle Matthew it is necessary for us to understand that more than likely that which fueled the desire to enter into the presence of Jesus was this fame that would spread throughout the region concerning Him. The more He healed sickness, the more He healed disease, the more He drove out demons and cast out evil spirits, the more He invested Himself in the lives of those within the region, the more men and women would gravitate toward Him.

            PEOPLE GRAVITATE TOWARD THOSE WHO INVEST IN THEM! INVESTMENT IN OTHERS IS ONE OF THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL REALITIES WITHIN OUR LIVES IN THIS GENERATION! I have to admit that when I read the final verses of the fourth chapter I see two distinct principles at work in the midst of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. On the one hand, the first principle I see at work in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is how men and women tend to gravitate toward those who show interest in them and in their lives, and those who take the time to invest in them. More of ten than not, and very rarely will you find men and women gravitating toward those who show absolutely zero interest in them, and how aren’t willing to take the time to invest in them, in their needs, and in what is taking place within their lives. What’s more, is that men and women tend to appreciate and value those who are willing to come to where they are, and/or even be available during those times of need and crisis within their lives. One of the most astounding realities found within the gospel narratives written by these four authors is that not only did Jesus make Himself available to those who came unto Him in desperation, but Jesus would also make a conscious and deliberate effort and attempt to go to the place of need within the lives of others. There were times when men and women came unto Jesus in the place of need and desperation, or to voice the need and desperation within their lives, and yet there were other times when Jesus Himself would go unto those places of desperation, or would go with them to their place of desperation and need. There is not a doubt in my mind that what caused the fame of Jesus being spread throughout the region was more than simply His willingness and ability to heal the sick and to heal all manner of disease. I am convinced that what men and women were drawn to the most was Jesus’ willingness to be available to them in their moment of need. The question I can’t help but ask myself as I am writing this, as well as those who might be reading these words is whether or not you are available to those who are in need. Is your life an open invitation to and for those who find themselves in desperate need within their lives, or are you closed off and reserved as you are unwilling to allow others in? Are you willing to take the time to invest in the lives of others and in the place of their need, in the place of their crisis, in the place of their desperation? Are you willing to live beyond yourself and go beyond your own needs that you might actually be able to minister unto the needs of others within their lives?

            I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found in the final verses of the fourth chapter, and I not only see Jesus going to where the people were, and going to where the needs were, but I also see Jesus willing to give of Himself that He might invest in the lives of others. You do not teach in synagogues, you do not preach the gospel of the kingdom, and you do not heal all manner of sickness and disease unless you are actively willing to be involved and invested in the lives of those around you. One of the greatest truths surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus is not only that Jesus did not come to be served but to serve, but also that Jesus came unto the earth to live selflessly and sacrificially as He devoted Himself to serving and ministering to those who were in need. You cannot read the gospel narratives found within the New Testament and not encounter a Jesus who was willing to give every part of Himself—and in many cases every last part of Himself—that He might minister to the needs of those who would make their way unto Him, or those whom He would encounter as He would journey within and throughout the region. When we talk and speak about being a servant—particularly and especially being a servant in the kingdom of heaven—we must realize that being a servant in the kingdom means actively giving every part of us for the needs of others. Being a servant in the kingdom of heaven means living beyond ourselves and being open to the needs of others when they present themselves within our lives. More often than not the needs of the masses and the needs of the multitude would present themselves to Jesus in various places—regardless of whether or not He was actively seeking it, or simply resting, or teaching, or preaching, or enjoying fellowship with His disciples. This actually leads me to an incredibly important question regarding interruptions within your life and whether or not you are willing to allow interruptions to take place within your life. Are you truly willing to open yourself up—or at least be open—to the interruption of your life by the needs of others? Important to note is that the needs of others aren’t based around your schedule, nor are they based around your time frame, and they can and will more often than not present themselves within your life at what might be the least opportune time.

            The further and deeper you delve into the gospel narratives surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ the more you will be brought face to face with the tremendous reality that Jesus was not one who was so stuck in His own world, in His own agenda, and in serving His own needs that He could not be approached by those around Him who were in need. What I so absolutely love about Jesus the Christ is that He was one who was readily available to those in the Judaea, those in Galilee, those in Jerusalem, and those in the surrounding region. There is not a doubt in my mind that those which were present during those days either knew that Jesus was available for and unto them—or were at least willing to take the chance that Jesus would be available. What’s more, is that as you read the gospel narratives you will find that even if Jesus wasn’t “available” He would make Himself available to those before and all around Him. You will never find a single time within the gospel narratives when Jesus was closed off to the needs of those which were before and all around Him, and He was already ready, willing and able to help those who were in need. There was at least one time when we read of Jesus being tired and weary, and that was when He was journeying from Judaea unto Galilee and needed to go through Samaria. When He sat down at that well in the town of Sychar in the region of Samaria, the apostle John writes how He was tired and weary from the journey, how He sat down at the well, and how He still managed to be available for that woman who would come to the well. What’s more, is there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus needed to go through Samaria in order to fulfill a divine appointment—first with this Samaritan woman, and secondly with all those in the town of Sychar. Although Jesus was tired and weary from the journey—not only did He take the time to invest in this Samaritan woman, but Scripture also reveals how He stayed in Sychar for two days. Undoubtedly Jesus would teach and preach the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven during those two days, and those in the city would not longer believe that He was the Messiah based on the witness and testimony of the woman alone, but now because they had witnessed and experienced the Messiah firsthand for themselves.

            When I read the words found in the final verses of the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew I can’t help but find myself being utterly and completely captivated by the awesome reality that a fame began to go out throughout the surrounding regions concerning Jesus the Christ—undoubtedly based on hearing Him teach in the synagogues and preach concerning the kingdom of heaven, as well as healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. It’s worth noting within these three verses that this fame concerning Jesus would spread throughout the Judaea and the surrounding regions as a direct result of His teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. It would be as a direct result of those who heard the words Jesus taught and spoke, and a direct result of those whose lives had been touched by Jesus that reports would begin circulating and swirling within and throughout the regions of the land during those days as men and women began bringing unto Jesus all sick people that were taken with various diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy. Four of the most powerful words found within these three verses are found in the twenty-fourth verse as the apostle Matthew writes concerning Jesus, saying, “…and He healed them.” Pause for a moment and think about the tremendous and awesome significance of those words, for within these verses we read of all manner of sickness and all manner of disease, as well as all sick people which were taken with divers diseases and torments, and yet Jesus healed them. Although Scripture doesn’t specifically use the word “all” when describing how Jesus healed those who came unto Him, I would dare say that if Jesus did not heal all those who came unto Him, He certainly healed many—if not most of those who had come unto Him. When Jesus walked among us as the Word which became flesh He did more than just teach and preach, but He also healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease which came unto Him. Jesus would actively be involved in the lives of all those who came unto Him, and all those who came into Him in their place of desperation, crisis and need.

            Oh I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the final verses of the fourth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words found in the opening verse of the fifth chapter, and I am absolutely and completely gripped with and by the fact that Jesus Himself would be completely and utterly available to all those who came unto Him—regardless of the need that was present within their lives. JESUS WASN’T SELECTIVE WITH THOSE NEEDS WHICH WERE PRESENTED BEFORE AND UNTO HIM! The more you read the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ the more you will find that Jesus didn’t welcome and embrace certain and specific needs which came unto and were presented unto Him, but welcomed and embraced all manner of needs which were  brought before Him into His presence. You will not find a single instance within any of the four gospel narratives when Jesus worked exclusively and specifically with a certain manner of disease, and a certain manner of illness, but rather you will find Jesus ministering in the midst of all manner of disease and sickness. I absolutely love how in the final verses of the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew he writes how Jesus healed “all” manner of sickness,” and “all manner of disease” among the people, for it suggests and speaks to the reality that Jesus was willing to bring healing in all those places within the lives of the men and women who came unto and before Him. Although in the twenty-fourth verse of the fourth chapter we simply read how Jesus “healed them,” that which we find in the twenty-third verse of the chapter reveals how Jesus healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease, thus indicating the incredible and beautiful truth that Jesus was never selective with the needs He ministered to, and He was never selective concerning those whom He would choose to minister to. We do know that there was the case with the Syrophonecian woman when she came unto him concerning her daughter, and although Jesus initially declared unto her that He could not take what was given unto the children and give it unto them, He would ultimately respond to her faith and would bring healing and deliverance within the life of her child. In fact, the only things you will find within Scripture that prevented Jesus from bringing healing to those who were in need was unbelief and doubt, and religion and hypocrisy. You won’t find anywhere in Scripture Jesus healing a single scribe, a single Pharisee, a single Sadducee, nor a single elder of Israel, and you will find it written concerning Nazareth that Jesus could do no mighty miracle there because of their unbelief and their familiarity with Him.

            If you wish to understand the words and language which is found within the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you must needs take a look at and examine the words which are found in the final verses of the fourth chapter. It is in the final verses of the fourth chapter we are introduced to the multitudes which would be a continual and constant reality within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. It would be in the final verses of the fourth chapter of this gospel narrative where we find the multitudes beginning to form, and the multitudes beginning to gather before, around and unto Jesus. What’s more, is there seems to be an apparent link and connection between the multitudes which would gather themselves unto and around Jesus, His healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease, and His willingness to teach them. In the final verses of the fourth chapter we find the apostle Matthew speaking to the fact that Jesus would teach in the synagogues within the region of Galilee, and how Jesus would preach the gospel of the kingdom, and it’s in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of this same gospel we actually get a truly wonderful and powerful view of what Jesus might have taught in the midst of the synagogues, and what Jesus would have preached concerning the kingdom of heaven. In the fifth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew, however, we do not find Jesus in the synagogues, but rather going up into a mountain having seen the crowds and the multitudes which were before Him. The final verses of the fourth chapter seems to set the stage—not only for the emergence of the crowds and multitudes, but also concerning Jesus teaching and preaching concerning the kingdom of heaven. The apostle Matthew makes it quite clear that after Jesus emerged from the wilderness having been tempted of the devil He began inviting men to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and he points out how Jesus taught in the synagogues and preached the gospel of the kingdom, and it is in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters we actually get a full picture of that which Jesus would preach concerning the kingdom. Absolutely everything we find in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is a powerful treatise and declaration concerning the kingdom of heaven, and the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within the earth. Jesus would indeed and would in fact proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was near and at hand, and the words found in the Sermon on the Mount powerfully demonstrates how that kingdom would be manifested in the midst of the earth.

            Worth noting and taking a look at are the words which Jesus proclaimed after emerging from the wilderness, for Jesus would declare that the kingdom of heaven was at hand—a declaration which John the Baptist would himself make in the hearing of all those who would come unto him to hear him speak and be baptized by him. What’s more, is that when we think about and when we speak of the kingdom of heaven being manifested in the earth we must recognize that it was about more than simply the manifestation of signs, wonders and miracles. When we think about and when we consider the reality and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven we tend to think of it solely in terms of Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons and unclean spirits, and the like. The truth of the matter, however, is that the kingdom of heaven was about so much more than that which Jesus did in healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons. When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven being at hand there was something much greater and much larger at work than merely the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, and the casting out of evil and unclean spirits. The kingdom of heaven being at hand and being manifested in the midst of the earth would be directly linked and intrinsically tied to the words which Jesus would speak in this Sermon on the Mount. What I feel compelled to ask you right now is whether it would shock you to think about and consider how the greatest demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven is not necessarily in signs, in wonders, and in miracles, but in how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves in the midst of the world, and in the generation in which we are living. Stop and think about how incredibly provocative and dangerous such a statement as “the kingdom of heaven” could have been during those days, as Rome would be the dominant kingdom and empire in the midst of the earth. We know how troubled and disturbed Herod was when wise men from the east showed up asking where this One who was born King of the Jews could be found, and how when Herod realized he had been “betrayed” by the wise men, he proceeded to commit mass genocide in the land of Judaea and within the city of Jerusalem. With that in mind, and with that being we must think about what such a statement as a new kingdom being manifested in the midst of the earth could have meant for the ears of Roman soldiers who were assigned and stationed within Judaea, Jerusalem, and the surrounding regions.

            It is important to note that when Jesus the Christ was publicly manifested in the midst of the earth He would proclaim the kingdom of heaven was at hand, thus introducing a new kingdom in the midst of the Roman Empire that would control most of the known world during that time. In the fourth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and we also find the apostle Matthew writing how Jesus would preach in the synagogues the gospel of the kingdom. We must pay close and careful attention to those words—“the gospel of the kingdom”—for as surely as there is “the power of the kingdom,” there is also “the gospel of the kingdom.” This “gospel of the kingdom” is not so much about a demonstration of power, of signs, of wonders, and miracles in the midst of the earth, but is about a demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom within the hearts and lives of men. There is a demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the earth that touches the realm of signs, wonders and miracles, however, when you read the words found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will read Jesus delivering a powerful statement concerning the manifestation of the kingdom within us as individuals who were created in the image and after the likeness of the living God. The kingdom of heaven which was at hand which both Jesus and John the Baptist spoke about would be more than simply a kingdom that would be manifested in the realm of healing, signs, wonders and miracles. The direct manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth would touch the realm of a righteousness that far exceeded and far surpassed the righteousness of the Pharisees. Moreover, as you read the words found within these chapters you will discover what I would like to refer to as “the attitudes of the kingdom,” as well as “the righteousness of the kingdom.”

            As you begin reading the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find a series of statements and declarations which have throughout the years been considered as “The Beattitudes.” I have read the words found within the opening verses of the fifth chapter countless times, and the more I read and the more I consider them the more I am brought face to face with the awesome reality that while these might very well be considered “The Beattitudes,” I would dare say that they must be considered as “The Be-Attitudes” or as “The attitude of being.” There is not a doubt in my mind that what you find in these opening verses is a powerful statement and declaration of those attitudes which are a direct manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth. What’s more, is that when we think and speak about the kingdom of heaven it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that it is about more than simply a demonstration of power but a demonstration of character, a demonstration of holiness, and a demonstration of righteousness in the midst of the earth. When the Father in heaven sought to set up and establish His kingdom within and upon the earth He not only sought to set it up in the midst of the most powerful kingdom and empire that had ruled the earth up to that time, but He also did so by placing it in the midst of the hearts and lives of His people. This kingdom which the eternal Father would set up and establish in the midst of the earth would not be as much about power as it was about transformation—transformation of character, transformation of one’s entire nature, and producing a righteousness that was far beyond that of the scribes and Pharisees. At the very heart, at the very foundation, and at the very outset of the Sermon on the Mount are these statements Jesus would make that help reveal how His disciples and how His followers should act in the midst of the earth, and how they would truly demonstrate and manifest the kingdom in the midst of the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that the kingdom of heaven is as much about character and righteousness as it is about power—if not more so about character and righteousness. In all reality, there are two distinct statements made within this Sermon on the Mount that seem to suggest that the kingdom of heaven is all about producing a righteousness that is greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees, and one that is developed within the heart as opposed to external and outward displays and manifestations.

            If you wish to truly understand the words which are found within the Sermon on the Mount—particularly and especially concerning the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven—it is absolutely necessary that you understand the truest and ultimate manifestation of the kingdom of heaven is not necessarily in power, but is in righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, and an obedience to the will of the Father. The more I read and study the words found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount the more I am brought face to face with the overwhelming truth that the kingdom of heaven can be summarized in two commandments—Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength, and Love your neighbor as yourself. With that being said, I am convinced that the kingdom of heaven can be summarized in two external demonstrations and manifestations within the earth—the first being that of a righteousness of heaven which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, and the second being that of obedience to the divine will of the Father. Above and beyond the demonstration of signs, wonders and miracles in the midst of the earth, the kingdom of heaven is such that must needs be manifested and demonstrated in a righteousness and obedience in the sight of the living God, and in the company of those we interact with on a day to day basis. As I prepare to call and draw your attention to the words found within this Sermon on the Mount I would first like to invite you to consider Jesus’ statement concerning the righteousness of the kingdom as opposed to the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, as well as Jesus’ statement concerning the many who would come to Him in the day of judgment and profess Him as Lord while at the same time proceeding to speak of all they had accomplished in the midst of the earth. Consider if you will the following words within this New Testament gospel narrative beginning in the fifth chapter, as well as that which is found in the seventh chapter:

            “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, THAT EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, YE SHALL IN NO CASE ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” (Matthew 5:17-19).

            “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Now every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:15-23).

            It is quite clear from the words which are found in these two passages of Scripture that the foundation of the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth is a righteousness of heaven which exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, as well as an obedience to the will of the Father who is in heaven. Jesus made it very clear that He did not come to abolish the Law or the prophets, but to fulfill them both. Immediately after Jesus declared that He came to fulfill both the Law and the prophets—a reality which is expressed in the opening chapters with Matthew describing the fulfillment of the prophets, as well as Jesus’ own words to John the Baptist concerning “fulfilling all righteousness”—He would then declare unto those who had gathered before and around Him on this particular day that unless their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees they would in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to these words which are mentioned in this passage of Scripture, for what we find within them is a powerful statement and declaration that what Jesus presented in the ears and hearing of those who listened to the words He spoke today was a righteousness that was manifested and produced within the heart rather than an external righteousness that touched the outward appearance of man but never touched, nor ever transformed the heart, soul and mind of a man. In order to understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture it is necessary that we recognize the fundamental difference between that righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees which touches the external appearance and outward man and that righteousness of the kingdom of heaven—a righteousness which goes beyond external appearances and touches the heart of an individual. You cannot read the words found in these chapters and not come face to face with the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth—a manifestation that would touch more than what men and women see with their eyes, and what men and women hear with their ears, but that which the Father sees in secret.

            Before I present unto you the “Beatitudes” which are found in the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative I feel it is absolutely necessary to draw and call your attention to the words found in the sixth chapter, for it is what we find in the sixth chapter that calls our attention to that which is seen in secret, and that which is not visible or manifested in the midst of the eyes and ears of men. There is a righteousness that is designed to be seen and heard of men within the earth, however, there is an even greater and an even deeper righteousness that is found within the hearts of those who walk with and follow Jesus. What we must understand when reading the words found and contained within these chapters is that when we are speaking concerning the righteousness of the kingdom we are speaking of a righteousness that cannot be seen, nor heard, nor even experienced in the outward realm of time and space. The righteousness which is truly pleasing in the sight of the living God is one that is unseen to the natural eye and one that does not seek the spotlight, nor the attention of others. One of the most dangerous truths surrounding the scribes and the Pharisees is that anything and everything they would do was to be seen and to gain the attention of those before and around them. The scribes and the Pharisees cared absolutely nothing for the pleasure, the delight and the approval of God, and themselves took delight and pleasure in that which brought approval, accolades, respect and honor of men. In fact, as you read the words found in these chapters you will find Jesus describing the righteousness of the Law which only touched the outer part of a man while leaving the inner part of the man untouched and not affected. Moreover, you will find within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount His describing how the scribes and Pharisees performed all their “duties” and all their “religious practices” in the sight of men that they might receive honor from them. It would be Jesus who would emphatically declare concerning the scribes and the Pharisees that they have indeed and have in fact received their reward here on the earth, but would have absolutely no reward in heaven with the Father. There were a number of times within these chapters where Jesus would speak of that which His audience and hearers had heard it spoken, however, that which Jesus was asking, demanding and requiring of them was something beyond what they were asked to do within the Law of Moses. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that what Jesus asked of His disciples and followers would be more than that which would simply satisfy and fulfill the Law of Moses, but would actually completely and utterly transform the heart of an individual.

            I have to admit that I am absolutely and incredibly challenged when reading the words found and contained within these chapters, for what we find within them is a comparison of a righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees which was based solely on the Law of Moses and the righteousness of heaven which transcended even that required in the Law of Moses. It would be Jesus who would time and time again in the Sermon on the Mount remind His disciples, those who would walk with and follow Him, and even the great multitude that gathered themselves unto Him what they had heard it said in the Law—and even by the scribes and Pharisees—and yet how what He was asking was beyond what the Law, and beyond what the scribes and the Pharisees asked or demanded. It is something truly astonishing to think about and consider the words which are found in these chapters in asking, demanding and requiring His disciples and followers to have a righteousness that exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees He would not only compare and contrast what they heard to what He was speaking unto them, but also what they would see on the earth and what the Father sees in heaven. It is in the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative that we find Jesus speaking and referencing that which His disciples and followers had heard in that generation—whether taught from the Law, or taught by the scribes and Pharisees—while it is in the fifth chapter of this gospel we find Jesus speaking of that which His disciples and followers saw performed by the scribes and the Pharisees. Oh how absolutely necessary it is to think about and consider the awesome truth that there is a righteousness that is seen in the earth by men and yet ignored in heaven, and there is a righteousness that is seen in heaven and yet perhaps not recognized by men. What’s more, is there is a righteousness that is heard and has been heard in the earth, and yet is a righteousness that is earthly, carnal and natural, and is something that is far beneath that which Jesus the Christ has demanded and required within the kingdom of heaven. We cannot afford to miss this, for what you will find in the Sermon on the Mount is a striking and powerful comparison between the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees which was based on what was heard within the Law of Moses, and what was taught and passed down as the traditions of men, what was seen among men in the earth—even in the courts of the house of the LORD—and that which is seen and heard in heaven. It is with this in mind that you must consider in the fifth chapter the powerful truth and reality of a righteousness which is heard in the hearing of men and a righteousness which is spoken by Jesus. Moreover, we must also consider the words recorded in the sixth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as Jesus would speak about a righteousness that was designed to be seen by men. Consider if you will the following words which are found in both the fifth and sixth chapters of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew concerning that righteousness which is heard and taught of men, and that righteousness which is seen and observed by men as compared to the righteousness which is spoken and revealed by Jesus, and what is seen in heaven of the Father:

            “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I sat unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:21-26).

            “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee: For it is porifitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:26-30).

            “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32).

            “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the LORD thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all/ neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:33-37).

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:38-42).

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the judst and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

            Before you get into the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew it is necessary to draw your attention to the words which you see in the final verses of the fifth chapter. If you read the words found at the conclusion of the fifth chapter you will find Jesus asking a very pointed and powerful question of His hearers and audience—namely, “if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?” Please do not miss this question which Jesus asked—and not only the question Jesus asked, but the concept Jesus spoke concerning what reward men would have if they only loved those who loved them. This concept of reward is something which must be recognized and understood—particularly and especially when you consider the words which are found in the sixth chapter—for in the sixth chapter you will find Jesus not only speaking of that which is done in public compared to that which is seen in private, but He also speaks of a reward which is given in heaven. We dare not and must not miss that which is found in the final verses of the fifth chapter, for what we find in these verses is the concept of a reward which either is or isn’t received in heaven, and that which we do that is actually distinct and separate from those around us. When Jesus spoke of loving those who loved us, and saluting our brethren only He asked His hearers and audience if the publicans, the sinners or tax collectors did not do the same thing. It is with these words Jesus draws a clear and present distinction between that which separates and sets us apart from those around us—whether publicans and sinners, or the scribes and Pharisees. Pause for a moment and consider the awesome and incredible fact that not only did Jesus call us to be different and set apart from the scribes and the Pharisees, but He also called us to be different and set apart from publicans and sinners alike. I am completely and utterly fascinated by the fact that not only did Jesus instruct and demand that our righteousness exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees, but He also demanded and required of us that we act differently, that we think differently, and that we do differently than publicans and sinners. That which Jesus presented before and unto us in the fifth chapter is a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, as well as that which separates us from even the publicans and sinners.

            As I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the fifth chapter—especially the distinction between the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees which is of the Law and the righteousness of the kingdom which is found in Jesus, as well as the distinction and separation between the disciples and followers of Jesus from publicans and sinners—I can’t help but be absolutely and completely captivated with the fact that the call and invitation Jesus gave to His followers and hearers was one that called them to pursue the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven that was entirely and altogether different both the publicans and the scribes and Pharisees. I read and consider the words found in the fifth chapter—as well as the words which are found in the sixth chapter—I can’t help but see Jesus calling His disciples and followers to a righteousness that is not something that is readily and easily seen by those around us, nor even heard by others. What you read in the fifth chapter is a righteousness of the Law that was heard throughout one’s life as the standard of righteousness which needed to be attained and obtained by those who wanted to please God. Perhaps the greatest question I find myself asking when considering the words which Jesus spoke—both in the fifth and sixth chapters—is when it comes to our righteousness are we seeking to please man or are we seeking to please the living and eternal God. There is this clear distinction between what has been heard and passed down through the generations leading up to the days and times in which Jesus was manifested, as well as that which the scribes and Pharisees sought to put in display before those whom they sought to impress and please. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what is found in these chapters concerning the scribes and the Pharisees is a righteousness that seeks to be seen in the eyes of man while completely ignoring that which is seen by the Father in heaven in the secret place. Would it shock and surprise you to hear and consider the fact that there is a righteousness that is unseen by any natural eye and yet is beheld by the Father in heaven and pleases Him? Would it surprise you to think about and consider the reality that there is a righteousness that only the Father sees—one that might never be seen by the eyes of men—a righteousness that is found in the secret place?

            This secret and hidden righteousness is not necessarily that which we seek to hide from the eyes of men, but is centered upon the underlying truth that what we seek within our lives is that which pleases the Father—regardless of whether another soul within and upon this earth ever sees or observes it. The scribes and the Pharisees pursued a righteousness which was by the Law of Moses and according to their own traditions, and they sought to put it on display for all those before and around them to say. For the scribes and Pharisees righteousness was more of a production which they put on before and in the eyes of man with very little consideration for what pleased the Father in heaven. Consider how long the scribes and Pharisees would heave been in existence by the time Jesus emerged on to the scene, and how when He finally did emerge on to the scene He began preaching a new righteousness that was not concerned with what man said or thought, but what pleased and honored the Father. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” is about so much more than a demonstration of signs, wonders and miracles, but is about a demonstration and manifestation of a righteousness that is found within the inner part of a man, and a righteousness which seeks to glorify and honor the Father rather than man. It is when you come to the sixth chapter of this gospel narrative that you encounter a stark and strong comparison between that which the scribes and Pharisees would seek to put on display in the eyes of those before and around them and that which only seeks to please and honor the Father. We cannot read the words which are found in the sixth chapter of this gospel narrative and not encounter the tremendous truth that what Jesus sought to produce within the hearts of His followers and those who would walk with Him was a righteousness that is not as much about a production and appearance that is put on display before man, but is one that is done for an audience of One. Permit me to ask you a very pointed and powerful question, and that question is simply whether or not your righteousness is for an audience of One, or whether it is performed for an audience of many.

            It is with all of this in mind that we must turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the sixth chapter, for it is what we find in the sixth chapter that brings us face to face with a hidden righteousness that is not seen or observed by man, but is most certainly seen by the Father in heaven. If in the fifth chapter Jesus sought to take what we have heard and flip the script, thus calling us to an even greater level of righteousness in the sight of God—that which we find in the sixth chapter builds upon this even further and draws and calls our attention to a righteousness that is not seen by man, but is something that is seen and observed in secret by the Father alone. In all reality, I would dare say that if you are performing your righteousness to be seen and heard by others you might not possess a righteousness that is pleasing in the sight of the living God. If you are pursuing a righteousness that seeks to please those before and around you, and to gain honor by those whom you interact with while caring absolutely nothing about the divine pleasure of the Father your righteousness most certainly does not exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. What’s more, is that Jesus would build on this reality and concept of the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees in the twenty-third chapter of the gospel narrative written by Matthew, however, Jesus would not call it righteousness, but would call it something else—hypocrisy. Even more than this, we find Jesus warning His disciples and followers to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which He would also go on to describe this leaven as being the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. How incredibly challenging it is to think about and consider how what the scribes and Pharisees thought was righteousness in their own eyes was actually hypocrisy and legalism in the eyes of Jesus. If Jesus labeled and described it as legalism and hypocrisy then we can be absolutely certain that the Father in heaven would consider it as such. What you find in the sixth chapter of the gospel narrative of the apostle Matthew is a powerful declaration concerning that righteousness which was pursued by the scribes and Pharisees—that which they wanted to be seen and observed by those in the Temple, those in the synagogues, and those in the streets. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixth chapter beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

            “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).

            “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which seeth in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not yet therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you” (Matthew 6:5-15).

            “Moreover, when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:16-18).

            As I bring this writing to a close, I realize there is so much more to these chapters than what has been presented here. I fully realize that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is incredibly powerful, and is such that warrants strong consideration and observance within our hearts and our lives. We cannot and must not read the words of our Lord and Master and not be immediately challenged and convicted within our hearts and lives as Jesus directly challenges our concept and pursuit of righteousness that we might pursue and produce that which pleases, honors and glorifies the living and eternal God rather than man. It is with this in mind I leave you with the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew beginning to read with and from the third verse:

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 revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:3-11).

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