The King & His Kingdom: Walking With the Multitudes & Aligning Yourself With Authority

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ which was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first thirty verses 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 THERE FOLLOWED HIM GREAT MULTITUDES OF PEOPLE! When you come to the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative you will find the beginning of what is and has commonly been known as “The Sermon on the Mount.” It is within chapters five through seven of this New Testament book we are brought face to face with perhaps one of Jesus’ greatest teachings which was given within the four gospel narratives. If and as you read and study the four gospel narratives you will find certain teachings which Jesus gave which spanned and covered multiple chapters—teachings which were meant to instruct His disciples and followers. In the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters we encounter the Sermon on the Mount—a portion of teaching which is and has been described as the teaching of the kingdom. It is this Sermon on the Mount that has been described as Jesus’ instruction unto His disciples concerning the attitudes of the kingdom—and not only the attitudes of the kingdom, but also the righteousness of the king. You cannot read these chapters without and apart from encountering and coming face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that when delivering this particular and powerful sermon and discourse Jesus was setting the tone and the stage for the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth.

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the awesome and powerful truth that is found within these chapters—particularly and especially when you consider the words which Jesus emphatically and powerfully proclaimed after He returned in the power of the Spirit from the wilderness where He was tempted of the devil. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus being led into the wilderness where He would be tempted of the devil. It would be there in the wilderness where Jesus would be tempted three times of the devil, and each time Jesus would overcome the temptation and resist the devil according to that which was written in the divine Word of God. In the eleventh verse of the fourth chapter of this gospel narrative we find how after the devil had finished and completed the temptation of Jesus there in the wilderness he left him, and angels came and ministered unto Him. Immediately after the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness had been completed He would return in the power of the Holy Spirit which had led Him into the wilderness in the first place. After the apostle Matthew wrote and recorded concerning the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness we find how when Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been cast into prison He departed into Galilee. Upon returning to Galilee Jesus would leave Nazareth and would come and dwell in the city of Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast. What we find in verses twelve through sixteen of the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is yet another instance and example of the events of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ fulfilling and bringing about that which was and had been prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophets. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly important this truly is, for it helps set the stage for what we find in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the twelfth verse of the fourth chapter:

            “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:12-16).

            It is within these verses we find Jesus abiding and dwelling in the region of Galilee—and not only dwelling in the region of Galilee, but dwelling Caparnaum which was by the sea coast there in the midst of the land. The ultimate and underlying reason Jesus came and dwelt in this particular area was that the words which the prophet Isaiah had spoken concerning this region might indeed and might in fact come to pass. It would be after Jesus emerged from the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit and would return unto Galilee in the same power of that Spirit that the people which sat in darkness would see a great light, and those which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. This is absolutely necessary, for when you come to the seventeenth verse of the fourth chapter you will find the apostle Matthew writing how from that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Please do not miss and lose sight of that which is found within the seventeenth verse of this chapter, for at that time when Jesus would enter into Galilee He would emphatically proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and was about to be manifested unto and among them in their midst. What we find immediately after and following this invitation to repentance and declaration concerning the kingdom of heaven is Jesus calling and inviting certain men to come after, walk with and follow Him as He would teach and preach among those who were present within that generation. It is interesting to read and consider how after Jesus invited men and women to repent and openly declare that the kingdom of heaven was at hand Jesus would immediately set out to invite men to walk with and follow Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely and incredibly significant and important this is, for one almost gets the sense that one of the manifestations of the kingdom of heaven in the earth is learning how to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. In fact, one might emphatically and powerfully declare that where the kingdom of heaven is there also will be men and women who are walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel beginning to read with and from the seventeenth verse:

            “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 unto 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” (Matthew 4:17-22).

            Please do not miss and lose sight of the significance of what is found within these verses, for there are essentially two distinct manifestations and expressions of the kingdom of heaven that are found within them. It would be very easy to read these verses and focus solely on Jesus coming to Simon and his brother Andrew by the sea of Galilee and calling them to follow Him. It would be very easy to read the words found in these verses and also focus on Jesus calling John and James—the sons of Zebedee—to walk with and follow Him. While it is indeed true that there is an element of being invited to walk with and follow Jesus in this particular passage of Scripture we must also recognize and understand that as certainly and as much as there was an invitation to walk with and follow Jesus there was also an invitation to walk with those whom Jesus had called and invited to walk with and follow Him. We must needs recognize and understand that one of the manifestations of the kingdom of heaven during those days was Jesus calling and inviting twelve men unto Himself that they might walk with and follow Him. If and as you read the words which are found within these verses, however, you will find that while Jesus did indeed and did in fact invite twelve specific men to walk with and follow Him, there were also others who would walk with and follow Him. We dare not think and believe for one single moment that it was only the twelve disciples who walked with and followed Jesus the Christ during and throughout the three and a half years He walked upon the earth in public ministry. As you read the four gospel narratives—even that which is found written and recorded within this particular chapter—you will find that Jesus invited four men to walk with and follow Him, however, there were also others who would walk with and follow Him who weren’t necessarily invited by Him personally and individually. If there is one thing we must needs realize and recognize when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that in verses seventeen through twenty-two we find Jesus inviting certain men to walk with and follow Him, while there were others who would be drawn unto Him because of the words which He taught, and the miracles, the signs, the wonders, and the healing He performed among them in the midst of the earth.

            I read the words which are found within the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and I can’t help but be absolutely captivated and drawn into the awesome and powerful truth that there were certain and distinct manifestations of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth. When and as you read the words found in this chapter you will be brought face to face with the fact that after Jesus invited men and women to repent, and to declare unto them the kingdom of heaven was at hand He would immediately invite certain men to walk with and follow Him. There would be four specific men whom Jesus would invite to walk with and follow Him within this life—the brothers Simon and Andrew, as well as the brothers James and John. In all reality, we must needs acknowledge and understand that the kingdom of heaven is indeed manifested in our making the conscious and deliberate decision to abandon and forsake all that we might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that in addition to us making the decision to walk with and follow Jesus we also make the conscious and deliberate decision to walk and fellowship with those whom Jesus has called just like us. Not only this, but we also make the decision to walk with and fellowship with those who would be drawn unto Jesus upon hearing the words which He spoke and taught, and after beholding the great wonders and signs He performed in the midst of the earth. It’s actually quite remarkable to read the words found within the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for on the one hand we find Jesus inviting two sets of brothers to walk with and follow Him, and by very nature of walking with and following Him they would walk and fellowship with each other. With this being said—and on the other hand—we find that walking with and following Jesus would also involve and include our walking with and fellowshipping with those who would make the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and follow Him.

            AND THERE FOLLOWED HIM GREAT MULTITUDES OF PEOPLE! It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading the words found within these verses that not only would walking with and following Jesus mean walking and fellowshipping with those whom He called, but it would also involve walking and fellowshipping with those from the cities, towns and regions all around us. In all reality we must needs recognize and acknowledge when reading the words found in this passage that there would follow Jesus great multitudes of people—and not only from Galilee, but also from Decapolis, and from Judaea, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. We have great need of paying close and careful attention to the words written and recorded in this passage of Scripture, for when the fourth chapter draws to a close it does so with four disciples making the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and follow Jesus, as well as walking and fellowshipping with each other. What’s more, is that we also find great multitudes of people walking with and following the Lord Jesus—and not only men and women from Galilee itself, but men and women from the surrounding regions. When Simon and his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John made the decision to walk with and follow Jesus they would make the decision to do more than simply walk with Jesus but also walk with each other. As they walked with and followed Jesus they would witness and observe all He would do among men as He would teach in the synagogues, as He would preach the gospel of the kingdom, and as He would heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. These four men would walk with and follow Jesus as He taught, as He preached, and as He healed, and it would be those manifestations of the kingdom of heaven that would compel others to begin walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh I absolutely love how when you come to the final verses of the fourth chapter you not only find these four men walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ, but you will find great multitudes following Jesus.

            THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WOULD NOT INCLUDE JESUS WALKING ALONE AMONG MEN IN THE MIDST OF THE EARTH! Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the four gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that He did not choose to walk alone in this life. Nowhere in Scripture will you find Jesus making the decision to walk alone, and even when He was forced to carry His cross there would be one named Simon who would help Him carry that cross. Even when Jesus the Christ was nailed to the cross and crucified at Golgotha He would not be crucified alone, but would be crucified together with and in the midst of two thieves. When Jesus carried His cross He would walk with Simon, and when Jesus was crucified in “the place of the skull” He would be crucified together and along with two thieves—one on His right hand and one at His left hand. Even as I am sitting here thinking about and considering the words which are found in the fourth chapter of this gospel narrative I can’t help but be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful and incredible truth that what would begin with four men walking with and following Jesus would eventually and ultimately blossom and mushroom into great multitudes following Jesus the Christ. Oh I can’t help but wonder what that sight must have looked like as Jesus would move to and fro throughout Galilee with great multitudes of men and women walking with and following Him. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the original four disciples—Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John—to walk with and follow Jesus, and by very nature of walking with and following Jesus the Christ would also walk with and fellowship with all those who would experience His teaching and healing within their lives. Those who would walk with and follow Jesus would initially make up and comprise those whom Jesus called by the sea of Galilee, and yet as time would progress the number of those which would walk with and follow Jesus would increase exponentially as Jesus began teaching in the synagogues, as Jesus began preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom, and as Jesus began healing all manner of disease and sickness.

            I am absolutely and utterly captivated with and by the fact that walking with and following Jesus not only meant that we walked with Him, but also that we walked with each other. In fact, I would dare say that the more we walk with and the more we learn how to walk with Jesus the more we learn how to walk with others. We cannot follow Jesus the Christ and not at the same time fellowship with those whom Jesus has indeed called and those whom Jesus has healed, those whom Jesus has delivered, those whom Jesus has set free, and those whom Jesus has released from all manner of bondage and oppression. If there is one thing that is absolutely remarkable and astounding when you think about and consider those who walked with and followed Jesus it’s that some of those whom Jesus called were fishermen, while another was a tax collector whom Jesus had indeed called while he was sitting at the receipt of custom collecting and exacting taxes from the people of Judaea, Galilee and Jerusalem. What I find to be absolutely remarkable and astounding about those who walked with and followed Jesus is that the testimonies, narratives, stories and accounts were altogether and entirely unique. There were those walking with and following Jesus whom He had opened their blinded eyes and caused them to see. There were those walking with and following Jesus whom He had opened their deaf ears and caused them to hear. There would be those who walked with and followed Jesus whom He had caused their bodies to be made whole as they had spent perhaps their entire life being lame. There would be others who would walk with and follow Jesus whom He would make clean from leprosy which had caused them to be unclean in the sight of both God and men. There would be those whom Jesus would deliver and set free from the bondage and oppression of demonic oppression and those evil and foul spirits which cruelly oppressed them. I cannot escape the absolutely awesome and powerful truth that what we find in the midst of those who would walk with and follow Jesus is the various narratives and stories they had to share and tell with each other. Oh I absolutely love and find it absolutely astonishing and remarkable when reading the narrative of those who walked with and followed Jesus the Christ is that their testimonies and their stories would be different from those whom they walked with, and still they would make up a company and fellowship of those whom Jesus had divinely and miraculously touched and healed according to the divine power of the Holy Spirit.

            Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like to be one of the disciples and apostles who walked with and followed Jesus who perhaps never had the testimony and experience of those whom Jesus would heal, deliver, set free, cleanse and make whole. I can’t help but wonder what it was like as the disciples would begin to walk with and fellowship with those whose blinded eyes and dear ears Jesus had opened—perhaps even for the first time. We know that there were certain of those whom Jesus touched and healed who had been in their infirmity and affliction for a better portion of their lives—such as the woman whom Jesus declared Satan had bound for eighteen years, the woman who had the issue of blood for twelve years, the lame and cripple at the pool of Bethesda who was in his condition for thirty and eight years, and the man who had been born blind. These are but five examples of those who had spent a good portion of their lives in cruel bondage and oppression whom Jesus had entered into their world and brought healing and deliverance for and unto them. It is truly something remarkable to think about and consider what it would have been like to walk with and follow Jesus knowing that you were walking with others who perhaps had the same testimony you yourself had, or with those whose testimony and narrative was entirely and altogether different from yours. Oh stop and think about just how diverse the narratives, accounts and stories of those who walked with and followed Jesus truly was, as there would be those who would walk with Jesus whom He would heal, cleanse, deliver, make whole and make new.

            WALKING WITH THE BLIND WHO RECEIVED SIGHT! WALKING WITH THE DEAF WHO RECEIVED THEIR HEARING! WALKING WITH THE LAME WHO WERE CAUSED TO WALK ONCE MORE! WALKING WITH THE LEPERS WHO WERE CLEANSED! WALKING WITH THOSE WHO WERE ONCE OPPRESSED WITH AND BY UNCLEAN AND FOUL SPIRITS! Oh stop and think about the tremendous fellowship of those who walked with and followed Jesus—particularly and especially those who had received and experienced some form of healing and miracle within their hearts and lives. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that there were twelve disciples and men who walked with and followed Jesus because they were called and chosen to do so, and yet nowhere in any of the gospels do you read of any of them being healed of any sickness, nor any of them once being blind, deaf, lame or crippled. The only thing we know about those whom Jesus called is that four of them were fishermen and one was a tax collector. We know nothing of the other disciples other than Judas the son of Iscariot betrayed Jesus, and Thomas doubted the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no mention of how or where Jesus found the other seven disciples, and such a reality is left as a mystery before and unto us. What makes this even more incredible is when you think about and consider the fact that the disciples walked with and followed one who caused blinded eyes to see and deaf ears to hear while also at the same time walking with those whose eyes had been opened, and those whose ears had been opened. To our knowledge there weren’t any of the twelve disciples whom Jesus had cast out unclean and foul spirits, and yet the disciples themselves watched Jesus cast forth and drive out unclean spirits while also at the same time walking with those who had experience such deliverance from bondage and oppression. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the disciples to watch Jesus engage in ministry during those days and then walk with the very people whom Jesus had touched—this despite the fact that they themselves would not experience such deliverance, healing, cleansing, and the like.

            WALKING WITH JESUS MEANS WALKING WITH LIVING TESTIMONIES! When we think about and consider the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven we must needs understand that it involves us walking with and following Jesus—and as a direct result of walking with and following Jesus we walk with those whom Jesus had healed, cleansed, delivered and made whole. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it draws us into the absolutely awesome and powerful truth that the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within our hearts and lives involves us walking with fellowshipping with those whom Jesus has called and chosen, as well as those whom Jesus has healed, cleansed and delivered. We have great need of recognizing and understanding that walking with and following Jesus requires us to walk with those whom He has called and chosen just as much as those whom He has cleansed, healed, restored, made whole, delivered, set free, and essentially given them a portion—if not all of their lives back. Though the disciples themselves would never experience their blinded eyes being opened—at least in the natural and physical sense—and although they would never experience their deaf ears being opened and caused to hear they would nonetheless walk with those whom Jesus had healed and made whole. Oh how absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to think and consider the fact that the fellowship of those who walked with and followed Jesus was not only those whom Jesus had called and chosen, but also those whom Jesus had healed, those whom Jesus had cleansed, and those whom Jesus had delivered and set free from their bondage and oppression.

            In order for us to truly understand the words which Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount we must needs recognize and understand that the words found and contained therein are directly and intrinsically linked to our walking in fellowship and our walking in community with others. If you want to truly understand the words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount you must acknowledge and recognize that it is essentially centered upon two distinct elements of fellowship and community. On the one hand the Sermon on the Mount is about fellowship and community with those whom we walk with in this natural life, while on the other hand the Sermon on the Mount is about fellowship and community with the living God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as Christ Himself. While the Sermon on the Mount can be summarized as the kingdom of heaven being manifested in both attitudes and actions, so also the Sermon on the Mount can be understood and interpreted in terms of teaching men how to walk and fellowship with those who have been called and chosen to follow Jesus, as well as those who have made the conscious decision to follow Jesus because of what they have experienced as a direct result of His work in their lives. We have great need of understanding that the disciples walked with and followed Jesus because they were called, and they abandoned and forsook everything they knew and everything they had that they might walk with and follow Him. There were others, however, whom the gospel narratives never describe an invitation given unto them to walk with and follow Jesus. We know that unto the rich young ruler Jesus emphatically declared unto him that if he wanted to inherit eternal life he needed to sell all his possession, distribute to the poor, and then come and follow after Jesus. We must pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this narrative, for the rich young ruler is a distinct example of Jesus specifically, deliberately and intentionally inviting one to walk with and follow Him. With this being said, it is absolutely necessary that we understand how this invitation to walk with and follow Jesus would require something of this man. In order for this man to walk with and follow Jesus he needed to sell everything that he had, and then distribute and give to the poor. Only after he had sold all he had and given unto the poor would he have treasure in heaven and would be able to come after and follow the Lord Jesus the Christ.

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face with the truth and reality that at the very heart and center of this Sermon is the righteousness of the kingdom which can be summarized with and by the two great commandments—namely, loving the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. It is virtually impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not be brought face to face with a powerful invitation Jesus gave unto His disciples and those who walked with and followed Him to completely and radically alternative life than what they were used to. In fact, as you read the words which are found within this passage you will find Jesus emphatically and boldly declaring unto His hearers and His audience that unless their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. In all reality we must needs recognize and understand that it wasn’t enough to merely walk with and follow Jesus, for there was also the additional element of inheriting eternal and everlasting life. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is whether or not it was possible to have walked with and followed Jesus in this life and yet missed out on inheriting eternal life and enjoying fellowship and communion with Him in the kingdom and house of His Father. We know there is at least one example of one who walked with and followed Jesus who did not and would not inherit eternal life, for each of the four gospels brings us face to face with Judas who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and would later commit suicide because of the tremendous guilt that plagued his heart and soul.

            WALKING WITH JESUS WASN’T ENOUGH! FOLLOWING JESUS WASN’T ENOUGH! FELLOWSHIPPING WITH JESUS WASN’T ENOUGH! When we read the Sermon on the Mount we are brought face to face with the absolutely awesome and powerful truth that Jesus was speaking unto those multitudes who had been healed, cleansed, made whole, delivered and set free, as well as to those who walked with and followed Him, and yet in addition to walking with and following Jesus He would go on to declare that unless their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Please do not quickly miss and lose sight of what is found within this passage of Scripture, for it highlights and underscores absolutely everything we find within the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. For us to understand the Sermon on the Mount we must understand that it is an invitation to experience and enjoy fellowship with others as we collectively and corporately walk together with and follow Jesus, as well as fellowship with the eternal Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words found within this passage of Scripture that we are brought face to face with a wonderful and powerful invitation given unto those who walked with and followed Jesus to experience and enjoy fellowship with each other. We must needs understand that when reading the Sermon on the Mount that there is not only an invitation to walk with and follow Jesus in this life, but also a statement and declaration of what walking with and following Him is truly like. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words found within this sermon were just as much for the disciples as it was to those who had walked with and followed Jesus after He taught in their synagogues, preached the gospel concerning the kingdom to them, and healed all manner of disease. The words found within this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that walking with and following Jesus requires and demands of us a completely different way of thinking and way of living—perhaps entirely and altogether different from what we have been used to in times past.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words found within this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth that walking with and following Jesus not only requires of us leaving and forsaking those things which we perhaps held near and dear to us, but it also requires a complete and total change of our heart and our mind. What we find within the Sermon on the Mount is essentially an invitation to completely and entirely reprogram the way that you as one who walked with and followed Jesus thought, felt, spoke and acted. It is as you read the opening words of the fifth chapter that you are immediately captured with and captivated by a series of statements which has commonly become known as “the Beatitudes.” In all reality, I would dare say that what we find in the opening verses of the fifth chapter is not necessarily “beatitudes” as we know them, but rather “be-attitudes.” In other words, what we find in the opening verses of the fifth chapter is an invitation into an entirely and altogether different state of being. Essentially we might very well say that everything spoken and found within the Sermon on the Mount is built upon the foundation of these attitudes and these states of being. It is what we find within these opening verses that we are brought face to face with a tremendous and powerful invitation given by Jesus to enter into and engage in an entirely different state of being—one that is entirely and altogether different from how we used to live our lives and conduct ourselves. The fourth chapter concludes with great multitudes of people following Jesus from the surrounding regions, and the fifth chapter begins and opens with the apostle Matthew describing how when Jesus saw the multitudes He went up into a mountain. The purpose for Jesus going up into the mountain, and the purpose for His disciples coming unto Him was that He might open His mouth, begin speaking and teaching the people.

            The more you read the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew the more you will encounter and come face to face with the fact that not only did Jesus walk and fellowship with the twelve disciples whom He had called and chosen, but Jesus also walked with those who would follow Him after hearing Him teach in the synagogues, after hearing Him preach concerning the kingdom of heaven, and after being healed of all manner of diseases and infirmities. You cannot read the words which are found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and not find Jesus at the very center of crowds who either gathered around Him, or walked with and followed Him as a direct result of the words He spoke and the works He wrought among them. Twice within this narrative you find Jesus finding a great multitude with loaves and fish, once you find Jesus looking upon the multitude and having compassion on them seeing them as sheep without a shepherd, and here within this passage we find Jesus seeing the multitudes which followed Him and opening His mouth to teach them. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this, for walking with and following Jesus was about more than simply being healed of whatever disease, infirmity, sickness and illness wracked and plagued your body. To walk with and follow Jesus would mean that you were committing yourself to the kingdom of heaven—and with giving yourself to the kingdom of heaven you were giving yourself to that which the kingdom required and demanded of you. This was even more true of and for the disciples, for not only were they called and chosen by the Lord Jesus to walk with and follow Him, but they were to be the first ones who would exercise and exhibit the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven. It wasn’t even enough for the twelve disciples to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus the Christ, for they needed be among those who committed and gave themselves to exercising the righteousness of the kingdom within and upon the earth. Oh if there is one thing we must needs understand it’s that walking with and following Jesus isn’t enough, for there is also the invitation to enter into that which the kingdom of heaven requires of us. What’s more, is that when we think and speak about the kingdom of heaven we must needs understand that with every kingdom there is a King, and with every King there is a throne, and with every throne is authority, dominion and government.

            WOULD YOU BRING YOURSELF UNDER THE DOMINION OF THE KINGDOM? WOULD YOU BRING YOURSELF UNDER THE DOMINION OF THE THRONE? WOULD YOU BRING YOURSELF UNDER THE DOMINION OF THE KING? In all reality, I would dare say the Sermon on the Mount is a tremendous invitation—not only to enter into the kingdom of heaven, but also how to live as one who is controlled and governed by the dominion, authority and government of that kingdom. We cannot speak about the kingdom of heaven and not at the same time recognize and understand that at the very heart of that kingdom is a King who is seated upon the throne, and with that throne is a divine order of government, dominion and authority. The words which we find present within this Sermon on the Mount is essentially a powerful invitation and blueprint for how to bring ourselves in alignment with and under the authority, the government, the dominion and the righteousness of the kingdom. Essentially the way Jesus described bringing ourselves under the government, the authority and the dominion of the kingdom of heaven is that righteousness which is entirely and altogether different from the righteousness which the scribes and the Pharisees professed within their own hearts and lives. The words which are present before us in this passage are entirely and altogether powerful when you take the time to think about and consider them, for within these words we encounter and come face to face with Jesus presenting and showing us how we bring ourselves under the government and authority of the kingdom of heaven, and how at the very heart of that is righteousness—and not only righteousness, but that righteousness which exceeds that righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the opening verses of the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel:

            “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. 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).

            AN INVITATION TO BRING YOURSELF UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM! AN INVITATION TO BRING YOURSELF IN ALIGNMENT WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF THE KINGDOM! UNDERSTANDING THE ORDER OF THE KINGDOM! UNDERSTANDING THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM! UNDERSTANDING WHAT THE KING REQUIRES AND ASKS OF THOSE WHO WOULD SEEK TO ENTER IN! THE POOR IN SPIRIT! THEY THAT MOURN! THE MEEK! THEY WHICH DO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS! THE MERCIFUL! THE PURE IN HEART! THE PEACEMAKERS! THEY WHICH ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE! Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within this passage, for the words contained therein are truly remarkable and astounding when you take the time to think about and consider them. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with a series of statements our Lord made concerning those who were blessed in the kingdom of heaven. Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must needs realize and recognize that Jesus was doing more than simply describing a specific group of people, but rather a condition of the heart that is found within those who would walk with and follow Him. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words which are found within this Sermon on the Mount is a powerful invitation given to those who walk with and follow Jesus to bring themselves under the government, the authority and the dominion of the kingdom of heaven. It would be in the fourth chapter we find the Lord Jesus beginning to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and then He followed that statement and declaration up with an invitation to two sets of brothers to walk with and follow Him, as well as beginning to teach in the synagogues, preach the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and healing all manner of diseases. As a direct result of the words which He spoke and the works which He wrought among men we find great multitudes beginning to follow Jesus. Oh what a strong and powerful contrast exists within the fourth chapter as on the one hand we find those whom Jesus deliberately and intentionally invited to walk with and follow Him, and those who would follow Jesus because they heard the words which He spoke and they witnessed and partook of the works which He wrought among men—perhaps even within their own lives.

            YOU’RE WALKING WITH ME, BUT NOW YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S REQUIRED OF YOU! YOU’RE FOLLOWING ME, BUT NOW YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S ASKED OF YOU! YOU WANT TO WALK WITH AND FOLLOW ME, HOWEVER YOU HAVE GREAT NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS GOING TO ASK OF YOU! Oh when we think about the kingdom of heaven we think about it in terms of the supernatural and the miraculous, however, very rarely do we think about the kingdom of heaven in direct relation to and connection with our need to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ, as well as walk with and fellowship with those whom Jesus has called together with us, and those who begin to walk with and follow Jesus because of what He has done within their hearts and lives. The kingdom of heaven is not merely about our walking with and following Jesus alone, but it is also about walking with and fellowshipping with those whom Jesus has called together with us to walk with and follow Him. The kingdom of heaven is about walking and fellowshipping with those who make the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and follow Jesus because of what He has done within their lives. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly important this truly is, for this reality brings us face to face with just what the living and eternal God demands and requires of us. The more we think about the kingdom of heaven the more we must needs recognize and acknowledge the fact that with that kingdom comes demands and requirements that must be adhered to and followed for us to truly enter into and experience it. Oh there was indeed the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth as a direct result of the signs, wonders, healing and miracles which were performed among men, however, there is another manifestation of the kingdom of heaven as is evidenced in our walking and fellowshipping with the brethren, and our understanding that which the kingdom of heaven asks, demands and requires of us. Oh there are those who would like to speak concerning the kingdom of heaven and would like to speak of it in terms of the supernatural and the miraculous without at all speaking of it in terms of stewardship and responsibility. THE RESPONSBILITY OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand just how incredibly powerful the words which are found within the Sermon on the Mount truly are, for they are essentially a blueprint and an invitation given unto us to bring ourselves in alignment with the authority of the kingdom of heaven and to the King who is at the very heart of that kingdom.

            THERE CAN BE NO KINGDOM WITHOUT A KING! THERE CAN BE NO KINGDOM APART FROM A KING! The more I think about and consider just how absolutely incredible and astounding the words are which are presented before us in this passage the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that with the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was teaching those who began walking with and following Him concerning the kingdom of heaven—and not only concerning the kingdom of heaven, but also concerning that which the kingdom of heaven required and demanded of them if they sought to walk with and follow Him. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that walking with and following Jesus was about so much more than simply making the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and follow Jesus, but it was about completely and radically altering how you lived your life and how you conducted yourself in this life. Essentially the Sermon on the Mount was an emphatic declaration to those who began walking with and following Jesus to recognize that they’re decision to walking with and following Him would indeed require and make demands of them. Oh it was indeed true they could walk with and follow Jesus, it was indeed true they could walk with and follow Jesus because of what He had done within their lives, it was indeed true that they could walk with and follow Jesus because of what He had done within the hearts and lives of others, however, with all of this being said it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that the decision to walk with and follow Jesus was intrinsically and directly linked to the kingdom of heaven. As such—any decision to walk with and follow Jesus would also require men and women to bring themselves into alignment with the authority that is at the very heart of the kingdom of heaven. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for we would like to speak of the authority Jesus exercises over sickness, disease, illness, and over unclean and foul spirits, and yet we have absolutely no desire nor any interest in speaking about the authority Jesus has within our own hearts and lives.

            As I write these words I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are a great number of men and women who would like to speak concerning the authority Jesus the Christ has over all manner of disease, all manner of sickness, and all manner of illness, and yet they fail to and want nothing to do with the authority Jesus has within their lives. There are men and women who would like to speak of the authority Jesus has over unclean and foul spirits, and how Jesus’ authority over those unclean and foul spirits is a mighty and powerful demonstration of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth. Would it shock and surprise you to consider how the greatest demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven has absolutely nothing to do with any disease or sickness that might be within and upon your body, nor over any unclean and foul spirit? Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the fact that as much as Jesus healed all manner of sickness, disease and illness, and as much as Jesus cast out evil and foul spirits from those whom they oppressed, and as much as Jesus raised the dead to life again, and as much as Jesus healed those who were lame and cleansed those who were lepers—this wasn’t the greatest demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. If the kingdom of heaven was simply and solely about the demonstration of power and authority over sickness and disease, over blindness and deafness, over leprosy, over demons and unclean spirits, and even over death itself, then there would be absolutely no need for the words which are found and contained within the Sermon on the Mount. If the kingdom of heaven was simply and solely about the demonstration and manifestation of power within the earth over sickness, over illness, over disease, over death, over demons, and over anything and everything else that sought to oppress and keep men and women in bondage then there would be absolutely no need for the words which we find in this passage of Scripture. The simple fact that we have three chapters almost at the very outset and beginning of Jesus’ public ministry providing teaching to those who walk with and follow Jesus suggests the awesome and powerful truth there is a great need for us to realize and recognize that the kingdom of heaven is about more than simply the demonstration of power and authority in the earth over disease, death and devils.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that at the very heart of the kingdom of heaven is the presence of the King, and that King who is at the very heart of the kingdom has and is seated upon a throne. As a direct result of that King sitting upon the throne there is a supernatural and spiritual order within that kingdom, and as such there is that which the King demands and asks of those who wish to walk with and follow His Son Jesus Christ. The words which we find within this passage of Scripture are a powerful invitation given unto us as those who would make the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and follow Jesus to bring ourselves under the authority, the dominion and the government of the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus came preaching the kingdom of heaven, and when Jesus came to set up and establish the kingdom of heaven in the earth and in the midst of the Roman Empire He was doing more than setting up a kingdom that was present in the earth in supernatural power over disease, death and devils. Oh we must needs realize and understand that the kingdom of heaven is about so much more than simply this authority over disease, death and devils, for there is the greater element of the authority of the King over the hearts, the minds, and the lives of those who seek to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. There is at the very heart of the kingdom of heaven—and in all reality at the very heart of the Sermon on the Mount—a powerful invitation given unto those who begin walking with and following Jesus to bring themselves under and bring themselves into alignment with that which the King and the kingdom require, demand and ask of them. We dare not, we cannot and must not think and believe for one moment that walking with and following Jesus cannot and will not demand and require of us something that will bring us into alignment with the principles and the order of the kingdom.

            Upon reading the words which are found in verses three through twelve of this particular chapter we find what I would describe as “the attitudes of the kingdom”—that which we must needs exercise and exhibit within our hearts and lives if we seek to be more than simply those who walked with and followed Jesus. Oh even as I am sitting here this morning I can’t help but think about and consider the tremendous reality that there were those who walked with and followed Jesus and never entered into the kingdom of heaven, and those who walked with and followed Jesus the Christ and did in fact enter into the kingdom of heaven. I would dare say that how we respond to and how we interact with the kingdom of heaven here within and here upon the earth can and will directly impact and determine how we will interact with the kingdom of heaven in the Father’s house—and quite possibly if we even see and enter into that kingdom. As you will find and discover within this Sermon on the Mount Jesus would emphatically and boldly declare unto His audience that not everyone who said, “Lord, Lord” would enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who did the will of His Father who was in heaven. Pause for a moment and consider that within this Sermon on the Mount we not only find Jesus declaring that unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees we would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven, but we also find Jesus emphatically declaring that not everyone who says to Him, “Lord, Lord” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. At the very heart of these two statements is not only the call to personal righteousness which is according to the principles of the kingdom of heaven, but also a deliberate and intentional adherence to the divine will of the Father. Jesus made it very clear that if we desired to enter into the kingdom of heaven our righteousness needed to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, and we needed to do the will of the Father. Essentially this was at the very heart of the prayer which Jesus taught His disciples to pray, for He taught them to pray and declare “thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Oh dear reader we must needs recognize and understand that there is a manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth, and how we interact with that kingdom within and upon the earth can and will directly impact whether or not we see the fulfillment of the kingdom in the Father’s house.

            When Jesus came to the earth He did indeed and did in fact come to establish the kingdom of God within and upon the earth, and it was that kingdom which would be set up and established directly in the midst of the Roman Empire. While it is true that there would indeed be a demonstration of that kingdom in power and in authority over disease, death and devils, there was also an even greater element and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven—namely, the attitudes of the kingdom and the blessings associated with them, as well as the righteousness which the King and the kingdom demanded and required. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly important and necessary these realities truly are, for they bring us face to face with just how necessary the words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount truly are. As Jesus began teaching and speaking unto the people, He began speaking to them concerning a certain group of people in the earth—the poor in spirit, those that mourned, the meek, those which did hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and even the persecuted. Oh that we would realize and understand that what Jesus did with these particular words and declarations was speak to and reveal unto His audience of those who walked with and followed Him concerning what the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven was like in the midst of the earth. At the very heart and center of the kingdom of heaven would indeed be the King who would sit upon His throne, however, there would also be those who would faithfully serve the King in the midst of the earth—those who would be poor in spirit, those who would be pure in heart, those who would be peacemakers, those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake. PURE IN HEART, PEACEMAKERS, POOR IN SPIRIT, PERSECUTED! MOURN, MEEK, MERCIFUL! HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS!

            I have to admit that the more I read the words which are found within this particular passage of Scripture the more I am absolutely and completely captivated with and by the words which Jesus spoke, for the words which Jesus spoke unto those who would walk with and follow Him was indeed and was in fact what their lives needed to be like, and what their lives needed to look like as they were living, dwelling and abiding within and upon the earth. The kingdom of heaven was indeed at hand, and when the kingdom began to be established within and upon the earth it would be established with the meek, with the merciful, and with those who mourned. What’s more, is that when the kingdom of heaven began to be established within and upon the earth it would be established with the poor in spirit, with the pure in heart, with the peacemakers, and with the persecuted. Not only this, but the kingdom of heaven would indeed and would in fact be established with those who did hunger and thirst after righteousness. Moreover, we must needs recognize and understand that when the kingdom of heaven was established in the midst of the earth it would be established with those who would be the salt of the earth and those who would be the light of the world. As the kingdom of heaven was being established within and upon the earth it would be established with salt and light, for it would be the salt that would not only season and savor the meat of the Word of God, but would also bring healing unto those who desperately needed healing. The kingdom of heaven would indeed and would in fact be manifested in the midst of the earth with those who would be the light of the world whose lamps would be placed upon a lampstand that they might give light before and all around them. What’s more, is that with this reality and concept of the light of the world comes the invitation and instruction to let our light so shine before men that they might see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven. One of the greatest demonstrations and manifestations of the kingdom of heaven is indeed and is in fact our letting our lights so shine before men that they might see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven. Oh that we would truly take the time to realize and recognize just how incredibly important and necessary this is, for it calls and invites us into a place where we are among men as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When and as we speak of the kingdom of heaven we must needs recognize and understand that it is a kingdom that was indeed set up and established with salt and light, and that those who sought to be a part of this kingdom of heaven upon the earth were called to let their light so shine before men that they might see their good works and glorify their Father who is in heaven.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to point out and draw your attention to the tremendous truth and reality that when we speak about the kingdom of heaven we must needs recognize and understand that the kingdom of heaven is about more than the demonstration of power and authority over disease, death and devils, but it is about authority and dominion within the hearts and minds of men. The greatest demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth is found within the heart of those who would seek to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ—a reality that would be found in the final two sections of this particular passage. It is when you come to verses twenty-one through thirty where you find Jesus speaking concerning the heart, and how that which we previously thought of in terms of external actions is actually a heart issue. You cannot read the words found within these two portions of Scripture and not be directly confronted with the awesome and powerful truth that the greatest demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven is within the human heart, for Jesus would emphatically declare how both adultery and murder would begin in the heart before they were ever exercised in the physical and natural realm. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that both murder and adultery are a heart issue and a condition of the heart more than simply an external demonstration and manifestation of anger and lust. At the very heart of murder is anger, and at the very heart of anger is a condition within the heart. At the very heart of adultery is lust, and lust is indeed and is in fact a condition of the human heart. It is with these words Jesus brings us face to face with the fact that to truly experience and enter into the kingdom of heaven we must needs come face to face with the condition of our hearts and recognize that if we wish to walk with and follow Jesus we must needs understand and acknowledge that the kingdom of heaven requires a complete and total transformation of our heart—and not only our heart, but also of how we think and how we act. Oh the question I would like to leave you with is not merely whether or not you are one who is willing to walk with and follow Jesus in this life, but whether or not you are willing to accept the invitation to bring yourself in alignment with the kingdom of heaven and that which it requires and asks of you within this life.

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