Monday, January 30, 2017

Epiphany 4A

Matthew 5:1-12

1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Some features of Matthew's gospel include Jesus as the New Moses; Jesus as the new King David; an emphasis on the righteousness and justice of God that we find throughout the Hebrew Bible.

Today we'll look at the famous sermon (discourse, talk, homily) Jesus gave after he called his first four disciples.


• All four gospels include an account of Jesus' baptism by his cousin John the Baptist; Jesus' baptism was a public event that prepared him for public ministry.

• Our baptism in the context of worship is public and prepares us for the public witness to Jesus' death and resurrection.

Jesus' IPOs – Initial Public Offerings after his baptism:

• Matthew: calling four disciples and then preaching Sermon on the Mount as an example of Jesus as the new Moses

• Mark: casting out a demon /incubus

• Luke: reading Isaiah in synagogue and announcing he is the fulfillment of the Year of Jubilee; the people reject him, and almost throw him over a cliff

• John: Changing water into wine at the Wedding Ceremony at Cana, "grace upon grace upon grace"

Matthew and Luke both bring us this talk that includes characteristics or attributes of disciples or people who follow him. Matthew and Luke definitely tell about the same event that was passed along in the oral tradition with differing details, and recorded by each to make their own theological point.

We studied a printed handout of The Message version of this passage in Matthew, who brings us Jesus on the mountain or hill as a parallel to Moses receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai, and in Luke, who places Jesus on a level place, reflecting Mary's Magnificat/Hannah's song that promises God will raise up the lowly and bring down the mighty to create a world, or "lifestyle" of distributive justice, where no one has too much, no one has too little.

"Blessed, Happy" is not the deep well of joy we often reference and sometimes experience as Christians; blessed is a state of participation in the reign of heaven, lifestyle of God, of being fortunate, well-regarded by God. Blessed, happy is not consumer happiness as in "if I buy this tablet or take this trip I'll be happier;" "If I buy that tablet, take this trip, and buy those new dishes I'll be the happiest."

Luke's "trouble" in The Message, "woe" in some translations is the opposite of blessed / happy: sorrow, sadness, grief, oy veh.

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