The Proclamation of the King

- And Our Response -


John Hoole – August 16, 2015




We are early in our series on the Sermon on the Mount – recorded in Matthew, chapters 5-7.  Up to this place in his Gospel, the early ministry of Jesus Christ was given by Matthew only in general statements.  Christ’s words are said to be about the Kingdom of Heaven, but not in detail up to now.


Leading up to the fifth chapter, Matthew tells us of these events.


         •  Genealogy from Abraham to Christ – Chapter 1:1-17

         •  Birth of Christ – Chapter 1:18-25

         •  Christ’s early childhood, including Magi from the East, their flight into Egypt – Chapter 2

         •  Ministry of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus – Chapter 3.

         •  Christ’s temptations in the wilderness – Chapter 4:1-11

         •  He moves from Nazareth to Capernaum (4:12-16).

         •  The beginning of His ministry is stated in verse 17.


Matthew 4:17 NKJV


17     From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."


Let’s open our lens more widely today.  Then in next week’s lesson we will narrow it down to each individual Beatitude.


Staying in Matthew 4, let’s look at verse 23.


Matthew 4:23 NKJV


23     And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.


One way to restate that verse would be to say that Jesus made it his ministry to preach the coming kingdom, teach the way of the kingdom, and demonstrate the purpose and power of the kingdom.


Matthew 9:35 is almost verbatim of what we just read in chapter 4.


35     Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.


When we look at what is sandwiched between these two summary descriptions of Jesus’ ministry, what we see are two major section.  These two passages are like bookends that help us know and understand the chapters in between,


         Chapters 5 – 7 are a collection of Jesus’ teaching called the Sermon on the Mount.


         Chapters 8 and 9 are a collection of stories mainly about his healing ministry.


So what we have is a five chapter unit designed by Matthew to present us first with teaching about living in the Kingdom.  Then we are shown some healings and miracles to demonstrate the power of the Kingdom.  I think the Holy Spirit through Matthew is telling us that we cannot have the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount without the Jesus who cleansed the leper and healed the centurions servant, and stilled the storm and cast out demons.  I do not agree with some modern theologians who accept and admire the moral teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, but do not want to get involved with the supernatural Jesus.  The King who proclaims what is in the Sermon on the Mount is the same Lord who calls us to follow him through life and depend on His power.  His personal work and power are inseparable from His teaching.  The teaching of our Lord in chapters 5,6,7 cannot be accomplished without His power.


Allow me to repeat something I mentioned in our first lesson in this series.


         Genesis 5:1 (NKJV) tells us:


1       This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.


         Matthew 1:1 (NKJV) reads similarly


1      The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:


The Old Testament is the book of Adam, whose story is tragic.  He was given dominion over the entire earth (Genesis 1:28), so not only was he the first man, but also earth’s first king.  But the first monarch fell soon after he began to rule.  And his fall brought a curse – a curse with which the Old Testament both begins and ends.


Take a look at the last verse of the Old Testament.


Malachi 4:6 NKJV


6       And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." 


What a relief it is to turn to the gospel of Matthew and enter a new book, “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”  Unlike the first Adam, Jesus Christ, who in 1 Corinthians 15:45 is called the “last Adam”, obeyed God and was therefore able to exercise dominion over His kingdom.


By contrast to the curse of the old, the first great sermon in the New Testament begins with a series of blessings.  And the New Testament, in its last chapter removes any vestige of the curse.


Revelation 22:3 NKJV


3       And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,…


The Old Testament was characterized by Mount Sinai, with its law, its thunder and lightning and its warnings of judgment and cursing.  The New Testament is characterized by Mount Zion, with its grace, its salvation and healing, and its promises of peace and blessing.


Why do I state it this way?  I believe the writer of the book of Hebrews states it this way.  Let’s turn to that passage.


Hebrews 12:18-24 NKJV


18     For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,

19     and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.

20     (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow."

21     And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.")

22     But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,

23     to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24     to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.


The Old Testament law demonstrates man’s need of salvation.  The message of the New Testament offers the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The New Testament begins with the presentation of the New Sovereign Man, the Second Adam.  He is One who will not fall and One who brings blessing rather than cursing.  The Second Adam is also the Last Adam.  After Him will come no other ruler, no other sovereign.  The first king sinned and left a curse.  The second King was sinless and leaves a blessing.


The new King of the earth came to reverse the terrible curse of the first king.  And, as I have stated in earlier lessons, the Sermon on the Mount is the manifesto or proclamation on how He wants us, His subjects, to live.  And in chapter 8 & 9, He shows us the power by which we are to live that life.


The thrust of the Sermon on the Mount is that the King’s proclamation are first and most importantly internal and not external, and spiritual and moral rather than physical and political.  His concern is what we are, because what we are dictates what we will do.  The internal characteristics in this sermon are being humble, compassionate, meek, yearning for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted for the sake of the very righteousness they practice.


In the eyes of the world, those characteristics are the marks of losers.  The world says, “Assert yourself, stand up for yourself, be proud of yourself, elevate yourself, defend yourself, avenge yourself, serve yourself.”


As mentioned in an earlier lesson, there were four religious groups that were a part of the society Jesus lived and preached in.  They were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots.  In essence, the Pharisees said, “Go Back;” the Sadducees said, “Go Ahead;” the Essenes said, “Go Away;” and the Zealots said, “Go Against.”  The Pharisees were the traditionalists; the Sadducees were modernists; the Essenes were separatists; and the Zealots were activists.  They represent the same primary types of religious factions that are common today.  Then there were also the Scribes, who most often sided with the Pharisees.  They were the educated, the Doctors of Divinity group.


But Jesus was not any of those things.  To the Pharisees, Jesus said that true spirituality is internal, not external.  To the Sadducees, He said that it is God’s way, not man’s way.  To the Essenes, He said that it is a matter of the heart, not the body.  To the Zealots, He said that it is a matter of worship, not revolution.


True religion in the Sermon on the Mount focuses on the heart, the soul, the internal.  It is not a question of the Pharisees’ ritual or the Sadducees’ philosophy, or the Essenes’ location, or the Zealots’ military might. Rather, it is a right attitude toward God and toward other people.  Our King summarizes these thought, when He said in Matthew 5:20, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”


In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ is speaking of a blessing that remains regardless of the circumstances.  The Christian’s blessedness is completely untouchable and unassailable.  John 16:22 says:  “No one will take your joy from you.”


Matthew 5:3-10  (KJV)


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

4       Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5       Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

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

7       Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8       Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

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

10     Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


There are several additional things to note about the beatitudes as a whole before considering them individually.


There are eight beatitudes, and all of them are worded in a similar fashion.  The 8 begin with qualities which constitute each Christian’s responsibilities and character traits.  The 8 promises of blessings are the privilege of each and every citizen of God’s kingdom.  And these blessings describe what the enjoyment of God’s rule really means.


The second half of each beatitude elucidates the blessing.  They range from possessing the kingdom of Heaven to inheriting the earth.  The mourners are promised to be comforted and the hungry are satisfied.  Those having these qualities are promised to receive mercy, they shall see God and they are called the children of God.  It is proclaimed that their heavenly reward is, indeed, great.


It is true that each particular blessing is tied to a specific quality.  But at the same time it is not possible to be comforted, without also being satisfied -- Nor is it possible to see God without also receiving his mercy and being called his children.


Some might include verse 11 as the ninth beatitude because it starts with the word, Blessed.


Matthew 5:10-11  (NKJV)


10     Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11     Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake.


Verse 11 does not follow the same form as the previous 8 verse.  It does not present a quality followed by a promise.  Most take verses 11 & 12 as an expansion of verse 10.


Another item to note is that in the original Greek text, there are no verbs with each of the 8 qualities.  For instance, the first beatitude says, Blessed are the poor in spirit…”  There is no “are” in the original Greek.  This will not change the message of each beatitude, but something to note,  Let me show you this by using my Bible software (in this case, PC Study Bible).  This is true of all 8 beatitudes.  There are, However, verbs in the second half of each beatitude.


So, how could the wording be given without the verb.  The first beatitude reads, “Blessed are the pure in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  They should be read as an exclamation or a proclamation.  The first beatitude could sound like this:  “Oh the blessedness of the poor in spirit.”  That is also in keeping as to how the Hebrew ASHREI, which in our last lesson, I mentioned was often the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek, MAKARIOS, which is the word translated blessed in the beatitudes.




The Beatitudes set forth the well balanced and multi-faceted character and life of the followers of Christ.  These are not eight separate and distinct groups of disciples of Christ, some of whom are meek, while others are merciful and yet others become peacemakers.  They are, rather, eight qualities of the same group who at one and the same time are meek and merciful, poor is spirit and pure in heart, mourning and hungry, peacemakers and persecuted.


The Beatitudes are a collection of eight characteristics – qualities of life – that separate children of God from the rest of the world.  The eight beatitudes describe the blessed state of those who humbly submit themselves to God’s will.  Jesus was not just asking men to change a few of their behaviors.  He was asking them to radically change their entire lives and worldview.


In addition, the group of people exhibiting these marks is not an elitist group.  They are not a small spiritual aristocracy remote from the common run of the mill Christian.  On the contrary, what we find in the beatitudes are Christ’s own specification of what every Christian ought to be.  All these qualities are to characterize all his followers.


Just as the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit, listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23, are each to mature and become evident in every Christian character, so the eight beatitudes of which Christ speaks describe his ideal for every citizen of God’s kingdom.


The beatitudes paint a comprehensive portrait of a disciple of Christ.  And as you proceed through the eight beatitudes, you will undoubtedly notice that some of them focus mainly on your relationship with God.  Some are very pointed in their reference to our relationships with others.


The first four Beatitudes speak to our vertical relationship with God  and the final four speak of our horizontal relationship with others.  The first 4 speak with our “being” and the last four speak about our “doing.”


We are told here that the first step in living like a child of the King is admitting our spiritual bankruptcy and having a humble, honest attitude toward myself.


“Blessed are the poor in spirit” applies the ax to the very root of pharisaical pride and hypocrisy.  The first beatitude sees the Christian on his knees before God, humbly acknowledging his spiritual poverty.  Being “poor in spirit” means coming to the realization that before the holy God of the universe, we are absolutely bankrupt spiritually, with nothing in ourselves that will please Him.


“Blessed are they that mourn” deals with my attitude toward my sin.  Instead of criticizing the other person, I judge myself.  The child of God truly mourns over his sins.  He is speaking of weeping, lamenting, groaning and sorrowing over that which keeps a person from God.  Mourning is not hating yourself, but hating that which hinders an open relationship with God.


“Blessed are the meek” deals with my attitude toward God, where I am submissive to Him and do not try to impress Him with who I am or what I have done.  Meekness is NOT weakness.  Rather it is power under control.  Meekness is not passive.  It is a response based on the strength and confidence derived from a relationship with God.


The fourth Beatitude shifts gears somewhat and tells us what to do in order to fill up what we lack.  When I “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” then God provides that righteousness in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He promises we will be filled (or satisfied).  Psalm 42:1, says: “As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul panteth after thee.”  That is this beatitude – hungering and thirsting for God.


In the remaining Beatitudes, we see the child of the King with others, out in the human community.  His close relationship with God does not cause him to withdraw from society nor does he allow himself to be insulated from the world’s pain.  On the contrary, he is in the thick of it, and, having received the righteousness of God, he begins to manifest the very character of the King Himself.


The follower of Christ becomes “merciful” instead of condemning.  Showing mercy grows out of empathy for others who are going through a difficulty or have a need.  It may be shown by providing a listening ear when someone just needs to talk.  It may be comforting a person during a time of sorrow.  It may be sharing what you have (money, possessions, yourself) with someone who needs just that.


“Pure in Heart” means he maintains integrity in his dealings both with God and man.  At first glance “pure in heart” might seem to belong to the vertical focus.  But a study of this phrase throughout Scripture will show that it refers to the horizontal.  One example is found in 1 Peter 1:22, where Peter encourages the believers to “…..fervently love one another from a pure heart.”


The “peacemakers” are not those who carry the signs “Make love – not war.”  Peacemakers are those who make peace where there is no peace.  The peacemaker seeks to play a constructive role as a peacemaker, instead of being a troublemaker.


Yet for all these things, he is not thanked for his efforts, but rather opposed, slandered, insulted and persecuted.  As you and I exhibit the qualities of the Beatitudes – becoming more like Christ we will be “persecuted” on account of the righteousness for which we stands.


But through it all, God wants to bless his people.  He delights in giving good things to His children.  The Sermon on the Mount shows the way of blessing for a Christian.  We do not find happiness in the same way the world does.  That is because our standards are not theirs.


The Sermon on the Mount tells us that it is the poor – not the haughty, the meek- not the proud, the merciful – not the cruel, the peacemakers – not the agitators, who are blessed by God.


What should we take from the whole of the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount?  First, Jesus was not just asking men to change a few of their behaviors.  He was asking them to radically change their entire lives and worldview.  Jesus challenges people – you and me – to a standard of living that is radically different from anything the world had ever heard before.  This sermon does not say, “Live like this and you will be a Christian.”  Rather, He says, “Because you are a Christian, live like this.”


The Beatitudes do not describe different types of Christians.  Rather, all Christians are to manifest all of these characteristics.  Christians are different in what we seek after and long for.  Everyone will “hunger and thirst” after something – what is it with you and me?  Is it Wealth? Status? Political power? – Or, the righteousness of God?


It is not enough to hear the words of Jesus, we must obey Him (Matthew 7:24-27),