by Kathy Matuschka
Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them (Matthew 5:1,2).
Have you spent time with a Rubik’s Cube? You can so easily make a movement that moves one side of the cube closer to your goal while messing up some clever work you did on another side. Sometimes that’s how it feels to follow Jesus: it’s hard to know when to act and when to stop acting, when to accept and trust that God will sort it, and when to challenge the status quo.
When I read today’s ‘blesseds’, I feel that following them all can be puzzling. It seems that some of these are things we can work towards, like being a peacemaker. Some are things that happen to us whether we like it or not, like mourning. And others can be a bit of both, like when taking a stand for the gospel leads to persecution.
Some of the outcomes we can expect as we follow Jesus seem to be cases of cause and effect (do this and then this will happen), while others are reversals – or paradoxes – in relation to how the world usually works.
When I hear the Beatitudes, I wonder: ‘Is there a single key I can use to unlock these?’ In looking for a key, I’m after:
- something that will help me feel less uncomfortable about Jesus’ words (like when he says we are blessed to be meek!)
- something that will give me confidence that the decisions I make throughout each day give glory to Jesus, my teacher.
But as much as I (and perhaps also you) would like to homogenise Jesus’ teachings, they simply don’t let us. We live in that intersection between Jesus’ first and second comings, the ‘now’ and the ‘not-yet’, and these times are not for the faint-hearted. That’s why Karoline Lewis said (on the Working Preacher website): preachers should not preach about the Sermon on the Mount but let it preach itself. Therefore, I invite you to sit with the text and notice which of Jesus’ teaching niggles you today and which parts comfort you.
Dear Jesus, thank you that you began to teach your disciples while you were on earth and that you continue to teach us in many ways today. May your comforting and challenging words speak to my heart today through your Holy Spirit. Amen.
For most of her life, Kathy Matuschka has preferred to give witness to her Christian faith using her ears and her hands. As a person for whom writing has not come easily, she now delights in learning to share her gospel hope using words as well. Kathy serves within the LCA Queensland District as Assistant Director for Ministry & Mission.