Summer on the Mount: Week 2
By: Reality SF
Welcome and Opening Prayer:
Welcome one another and open in a quick prayer.
Following Jesus in Kingdom Blessing:
This week focuses on The Beatitudes of Christ from Matthew 5:1-12. These verses repeatedly express the gladness and satisfaction (i.e. blessing) available to Jesus’ followers of all types, from the downtrodden, mourning, and persecuted to the positively merciful and pure in heart. These followers are called to rejoice, because the comfort, satisfaction, and—in a word—blessing of the Kingdom of God is at hand. Therefore, being a follower of Jesus means living in view of this Gospel or “good news” through any life circumstances.
Praying with The Beatitudes:
Read The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 aloud and take 5 minutes for silent, prayerful reflection. Then, invite a few people to share what they experienced.
The Audience on the Mount:
Key to understanding the original point of any given Bible passage is to hear it like it was first heard—as best as we can, given our limitations. For this text, what was it like for a first-century audience to receive this message from Jesus? To explore, we must consider Jesus’ specific audience.
Examine Matthew 4:23-25 and 5:1-2 for context. Who was Jesus speaking to, and how might they have heard The Beatitudes? Discuss, and then read Dallas Willard’s interpretation below:
It will help us to know what to do—and what not to do—with the Beatitudes if we can discover what Jesus himself was doing with them. […] In chapter 4 of Matthew we see Jesus proclaiming his basic message (v.17) and […] as a result, “Sick folk were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. And whatever their illness or pain, or if they were possessed by demons, or were insane, or paralyzed-he healed them all. Enormous crowds followed him wherever he went” (4:23-25).
Having ministered to the needs of the people crowding around him, he desired to teach them and moved to a higher position in the landscape—“up on the hill” (Matt. 5:1)—where they could see and hear him well. But he does not, as is so often suggested, withdraw from the crowd […] rather in the midst of this mass of raw humanity, and with them hanging on every word—note that it is they who respond at the end of the discourse—Jesus teaches his students or apprentices, along with all who hear, about the meaning of the availability of the heavens.
I believe he used the method of “show and tell” to make clear the extent to which the kingdom is “on hand” to us. There were directly before him those who had just received from the heavens through him. The context makes this clear. He could point out in the crowd now this individual, who was “blessed” because the Kingdom Among Us had just reached out and touched them with Jesus’ heart and voice and hands. Perhaps this is why in the Gospels we only find him giving Beatitudes from the midst of a crowd of people he had touched.
– Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 99-100
What did Jesus mean by calling this gathering of people “blessed?” The Greek word translated in these verses comes from makarios, which denotes satisfaction in the favor of God. It’s like a special contentment made available through God’s gracious presence. It is different from the “#blessed” of our day, which tends to equate blessing with getting good results or feeling good in a moment. Instead, the makarios kind of blessing which Jesus proclaims has more to do with the satisfying favor of God available in all circumstances—such that even the poor in spirit and those in mourning may be just as blessed as the one showing mercy or making peace.
Large Group Discussion Questions:
- When is a time you experienced this kind of blessing (the satisfying favor of God) in a circumstance you did not expect?
- Take a minute in silence. Imagine yourself among these people hearing this teaching. Perhaps you imagine yourself as one of the “poor in spirit” or “meek.” Perhaps you see yourself among those healed. What do The Beatitudes communicate to you?
- If you could encapsulate it in 1-2 sentence, what is the central point of The Beatitudes?
Small Group Discussion Questions:
Split your group into smaller groups of 2-4 people, and then answer these questions:
- In light of your discussion about blessing and the meaning of The Beatitudes, how does this message interact with your current life, work, leisure, or relationships?
- What parts of this message from Jesus seem particularly inviting or challenging to you?
Read Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus culminates His Sermon on the Mount with this parable about the importance of practically applying his teaching. Because of this, every week there will be an emphasis on practical application of what we learned as a group. So in smaller groups of 2, discuss, support, and then pray for one another:
- What stood out to you from today’s discussion and from Sunday’s sermon?
- What are one or two practical ways you can apply what you noticed? (For example, is there a conversation to have, a commitment to make, or request for help you need to make?)
The sermon on Sunday, June 18th, will be on Matthew 5:13-16 (Salt & Light). In order to be prepared for Sunday’s sermon and CG next week, try to commit to read these four verses daily and take note on how they resonate with you.