Sunlight from a cloudless, azure sky shimmered on the Sea of Galilee. In front of me lay fields lush and green with new spring growth. As I sat down to read the words of what we now call “The Sermon on the Mount,” I thought of that first, small band of disciples hanging on every word.

Nine times Jesus began by saying “blessed are” followed by statements and conditions that seemed puzzling at best. “Blessed are the poor in spirit?” What did that mean? “Blessed are those who are persecuted,” was worrisome. “Blessed are you when others revile and persecute you.” That must have been frightening.

Jesus had a message that He wanted to fix deeply into their hearts and minds. What was it? They had written it down for others, like you and me, to read. What was Jesus saying to me?

I think it was this. Success in Jesus’ kingdom is not measured by the world’s standards. His followers are to organize their lives in a very different way. He describes this way as salt and light. The goal? So that those who observe how we live our lives will glorify the Father in heaven.

To those first disciples, and to us now, Jesus teaches that we are to live not for ourselves but for others, and we will be successful not when people honor us but when people give glory to God.

“How am I doing?” I thought. For that matter, how are we all doing?

Help me understand what is in your heart, Jesus, so I can live more by your pattern and judge my success according to your standard. Amen.

Go Deeper — Jesus wants us to live out of grace and forgiveness, not out of guilt. Be encouraged today. Reset your goals, if necessary, and live with freedom and joy.

Tags: Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5
Photo Credit: Boris Baldinger