Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Beatitudes: Genuine Righteousness

I was cleaning out my refrigerator the other day. My good refrigerator had some bad food, and even the bad food was disguised on the outside.

I cut open some perfectly good looking avocados, perfect color and texture, but they were black inside.

I sent my husband to work with some plump, firm green grapes, and when he bit into them, just about every one had gone bad.

I opened a bag of what should have been beautiful brown bread and instead it was a brilliant yellow, green and sort of creamy colored fuzz.

Once I got the refrigerator cleaned out, though, I was glad to have all that room for the new groceries I had just brought home.

That’s what the beatitudes are about. When you are empty, then there is room for God to fill you. And for something to be good, it’s not the wrapper that counts, it’s what’s inside that you’re after.

A rabbi was always teaching his students, by example as well as by talking, no matter where they were or what they were doing. But the official times of teaching happened when the rabbi sat down and his disciples gathered in close around him, standing out of respect for him.
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. (Matthew 5:1)
Jesus meant this teaching for His disciples, but we know from Luke that a large crowd had gathered, followed Him up the mountain.
He opened his mouth and taught them, saying...(Matthew 5:2)
The phrase “he opened his mouth” in Greek had a specific meaning: what was about to follow would be something very important, the saying of a prophet. It also meant the speaker was opening up his heart and fully pouring out his mind.

The word “saying” in the Greek means that these were the truths that Jesus always taught, this is the distillation of Christ’s instruction, what He was in the habit of teaching, when He sat down with His disciples.

The main theme in these verses is about true righteousness. The religious leaders of their day, the scribes and Pharisees, were concerned about outward righteousness, based on the scrupulous observance of both God’s law and the Pharisees’ rules, down to the tiniest detail.

But the Pharisees' kind of righteousness was artificial. It neglected what’s in your heart, what’s the real you underneath all that scrupulous obedience. Jesus was talking about real righteousness.

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