INSIGHTS FROM BONHOEFFER AND LEWIS ON THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-10)
Part Four

. THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Matt. 5:6)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
for they shall be satisfied
.


Here our Protestant bent normally obscures the true meaning of this passage. When we think about hungering and thirsting after righteousness, we think about the salvation experience in which we are wanting to be forgiven of our sins and made right with God. That is not the experience Jesus is referring to in this verse. In fact, the rest of the Sermon on the Mount is actually explaining the righteousness we should be living out right now, in the here and present time.

Now we cannot achieve this righteousness on our own. What is Paul confident of in Phil. 1:6?

According to Phil. 2:13 who is actually willing and working for His good pleasure?

What kind of life results when a person tries to produce the Christian life on his own (Rom. 7:24)?

"But," you might claim, "many people never hunger and thirst for righteousness, and they are just satisfied." First, remember that this passage is spoken to Jesus' disciples, not to non-Christians. Only the Christian can truly hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Second, you can't hunger for something you've never tasted. If I asked you what you thought about my mom's chocolate pie, you would probably look at me with a glazed look in your eye. Ask the church staff and you will get a much more passionate response. Or ask her grandchildren. They have tasted the pie and hunger for it. You don't hunger for that pie because you've never tasted it.

In the same way, many people don't hunger for Christ's righteousness because they have never tasted the righteousness of the Lord, that it is good. They just don't understand the passion that some Christians have to be with the Lord on a continual basis; they don't understand why those Christians seem to be miserable many times. They are not trying to be super spiritual; they have really tasted the goodness of the Lord and desire with almost a heartbreaking yearning for that goodness to be permanent and complete in their lives.

Again, the promise is restricted strictly to followers of Jesus. Next, Jesus claims that it is to be fulfilled in the future. Yes, Christians today can get a real taste of that goodness, Christ's righteousness; however, ultimate consummation awaits the believer. He will be fully like Christ when (Phil. 3:20-21)?

In what I think is the greatest thing written outside of Scripture, The Weight of Glory, Lewis describes the yearning, the great desire that we have for Christ. The problem many times we settle for less than Christ in getting that desire met. He compares us to children who are content to make mudpies in the slums but who were actually offered a holiday at the beach.

The dominant imagery that the NT uses to describe this promise and fulfillment is that of the young man who is betrothed to his fiancée. By getting betrothed (a very serious legal engagement which can be ended only by divorce in NT times), the young man is beginning to "taste" how wonderful it is to be with his young fiancée. The wedding night, though, the night when the union is sexually consummated, the young groom has now much more than just a mere "taste" of being in a wonderful relationship with her. In the same way, the NT says that right now we are simply betrothed to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). What happens though right at the end of human history which shows that our union with Christ has been consummated (Rev. 19:7)?

According to A.T. Robertson, the word translated "filled" refers to fattening cattle. We are going to be so full of our Father's righteousness that we are going to be like fattened cattle spiritually.

To be righteous means to be right with God, to be right with others, and to be right with oneself. Here is the rub though. Jesus shows me how to be right: it is called keeping the Sermon on the Mount. Simple but difficult.


AND NOW FROM BONHOEFFER: From the Beatitudes

DB: "Not only do the followers of Jesus renounce their rights, they ________________ their own righteousness too. They get no praise for their achievements or sacrifices. They cannot have righteousness except by hungering and thirsting for it (this applies equally to their own righteousness and to the righteousness of God on earth ), always they look forward to the future righteousness of God, but they ___________ establish it for themselves. Those who follow Jesus grow hungry and thirsty on the way. They are longing for the forgiveness of all sin, for complete ________________, for the renewal too of the _____________ and the full establishment of God's law. They are still involved in the world's _______________, and affected by its sin. He whom they follow must die accursed on the cross, with a desperate cry for righteousness on his lips: 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' But the disciple is not _______________ his master, he follows in his steps. . . . They will eat the Bread of Life in the ______________ Feast."


THE MERCIFUL (Matt. 5:7)

Blessed are the merciful
for they shall receive mercy
.


This "beatitude marks a new emphasis in the beatitudes. Whereas the first four find their focus primarily in a state of mind or an attitude (and imply conduct only secondarily), this beatitude refers to the happiness of those who act, namely, those who are merciful towards others . . . What the poor and oppressed have not received from the rich and powerful, they should nevertheless show others. . . . in 18:33; there a servant who had been forgiven a great debt refused to have mercy on his debtor, whereupon his master said, 'Should not you have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?" (WBC:93-94).

According to Matthew, there are two major ways to show mercy. What way(s) should we show mercy in Matt. 25:31-40?

According to Matt. 18:23-35 what is another way we are to show mercy to others?

How serious Jesus is about this we shall see later. Just a preview: He is deadly serious about us showing mercy.

What promise in this Beatitude does Jesus give to those who are merciful?

According to James 2:13 (remember that James is Jesus' half-brother and most definitely heard Jesus address this topic), what will happen to the merciless?

According to James 2:13 the merciful can expect what during the Day of Judgment?


AND NOW FROM BONHOEFFER: From the Beatitudes

DB: "These men without _______________ or power, these _____________ on earth, these ______________, these ________________ of Jesus, have in their life with him renounced their own ____________, for they are merciful. As if their own needs and their own distress were not enough, they take upon themselves the distress and humiliation and sin of others. They have an irresistible love for the down-trodden, the sick, the wretched, the wronged, the outcast and all who are tortured with anxiety. They go out and seek all who are enmeshed in the toils of _______ and ___________. No distress is too great, no _______ too appalling for their pity. If any man falls into disgrace, the merciful will ______________ their own honour to shield him, and take his shame upon themselves. . . . In order that they may be merciful they cast away the most priceless treasure of human life, their personal _______ and _______________. For the only honour and dignity they know is their __________ own mercy, to which alone they owe their very lives. . . . They are glad to incur reproach, for they know that they are blessed. One day God himself will come down and take upon himself their sin and shame. He will cover them with his own ______________ and remove their disgrace. It will be his glory to share the shame of sinners and to clothe them with his honour. Blessed are the merciful, for they have the _____________ for their Lord."


This is wonderful insight from Bonhoeffer. I have found some real gems in some of the most unlikely places. When I was a youth minister at Lake Highlands Baptist Church, all I ever heard about was how great Chip Davis was. Chip this, Chip that, etc., not only from his friends but also from his parents. On the other hand, the only attention his younger brother John got was: "Oh, John, stop that." It was all about Chip.

One day though I was sitting at the piano and John came beside me to sing what I was playing. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was the most beautiful tenor voice, even more impressive in light of the fact that it had never been trained. I challenged John to participate in the annual "Solos of Christmas," a musical festival in our church in which anybody who volunteered could sing a Christmas song of their own choosing. We entered him in to sing The Imperials' song "Immanuel."

John Ward, the music director, placed John right smack in the middle so that he could save the great singers for the last. His dad, Big Jim, and his mom came but sat at the back of the church. When it came time for John to sing, they slumped down in their seats expecting the worse. As the song progressed, they sat up straighter and straigher. At the end of that song--which John belted out masterfully, the congregation shot to its feet and applauded John loudly. It was a thrilling moment.

That's not all. John went on to become the lead singer for the praise band at Lake Pointe Baptist Church in Rockwall, TX...a praise band which performed weekly in front of 10,000 people.

When I went to FBC Lancaster as youth minister, all I heard about was what a pain Paul Gathings was. Big ol' boy for a 7th grader. If he touched it, he either broke it or stole it.

One night we were at Six Flags with the youth. I heard someone from security paging me: "Carey Ford to the front, please." I went to the front and there was Paul and 2 others in the custody of the security guards. They were being accused of stealing Rebel Flags from one of the shops. When I approached Paul, he informed me that an armed robber had forced them to steal the flags. When they came out of the store with the merchandise, the armed robber had fled the scene. Yeah, right.

We go on a mission trip to New England. At one of the youth hostels, Paul "accidentally" set off the fire alarm. It is amazing how the fire alarm will accidentally go off whenever you hit it with a hammer. Amazing! Later we heard a bomb go off in the youth hostel. At least it sounded like a bomb. Paul had swung on one of the pipes, let go of it, it hit the flourescent light bulb...and boom.

I don't know how many times I heard people complain about Paul, but the bottom line was this: Christ loved Paul. Moreover, since Christ has never given up on me, He has never given up on Paul. Paul, now a grown man, just got back from going on a mission trip to Eastern Europe. Other than being a Texas Tech Red Raiders fan, he has developed into an extremely fine young man.

Show mercy. Mix in with the not-so popular. You have no idea with whom you will rub shoulders.