Today I’m starting to look at some of the things that Jesus taught and spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount, and I was reading chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel.
I’ve always thought that during his ministry Jesus had two manifestos- one in Luke 4 (the prophecy from Isaiah), which was addressed to the religious Jewish folk: ‘the stuff you’ve been waiting for starts now’, and the other in Matthew 5, which was addressed to the folk who were too busy to come to the synagogue on the Sabbath… its much more : ‘life needs to change, and here are some examples of what it might look like’. In Matthew 5 Jesus doesn’t talk about prophecies from the scriptures, he doesn’t talk about healing the lame, instead a lot of it is about being generous, gracious and merciful to those around us, having integrity and recognising our own faults. And the name Jesus gives this?
He calls it the Kingdom of heaven (also referred to in the other gospels as the kingdom of God.
Its a funny phrase, because kingdoms traditionally have boundaries, capitals, roads, economies and political systems etc… and the kingdom of heaven doesn’t seem to fit with that definition. Kingdoms can usually be found on maps… nope, its not there either. Do you need a visa to get there, is there duty free? Irrelevant questions.
There is a ruler- thats pretty clear, and there is a populace… those who know they are spiritually needy, those who are persecuted for seeking God… those who follow this risky manifesto and follow this risky leader are the people of that kingdom… its not far from any of us, though at times it seems a million miles from where we find ourselves.
What are you doing? I’m following Jesus
Where are you going? to the kingdom of heaven
Where is that? Here, in my heart
How do I get there? Just take one step.