Content related to the previous Sunday service for reading, listening and reflection.

Jesus Heals the Sick

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

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Songs to sing and reflect with:

Alexander Maclaren Daily Snippets:

All of Alexander Maclaren’s resources can be found for free at:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/2330

That is the source of the daily snippets below but first who is Alexander Maclaren?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Maclaren
https://thereaganreview.com/2012/03/06/alexander-maclaren/

This is “one who is aware of the condition, and seeks relief.”

It is to have “a lowly and just estimate of ourselves, our character, our achievements, based upon a clear recognition of our own necessities, weaknesses, and sins.”

“To be poor in spirit is to be in inmost reality conscious of need, of emptiness, of dependence on God, of demerit; the true estimate of self, as blind, evil, weak”

“Christ begins His portraiture of a citizen of the kingdom with the consciousness of want and sin. All the rest of the morality of the Sermon is founded on this.”


“This teaching is dead against the modern… doctrine of self-reliance”

“Our proud self-confidence must be broken down before God can do any good with us, or we can enter His kingdom.”

“I believe, dear friends, for my part, that the main reason why so many of us are not out-and-out Christian men and women, having entered really into that Kingdom which is obedience to God in Christ, is because we have a superficial knowledge, or no knowledge at all, of our own sinful condition, and of the gravity of that fact. Intellectually, I take it that an under-estimate of the universality and of the awfulness of sin has a great deal to do in shaping all the maimed, imperfect, partial views of Christ, His character and nature, which afflict the world. It is the mother of most of our heresies. And, practically, if you do not feel any burden, you do not care to hear about One who will carry it. If you have no sense of need, the message that there is a supply will fall perfectly ineffectual upon your ears. If you have not realised the truth that whatever else you may be, of which you might be proud—wise, clever, beautiful, accomplished, rich, prosperous—you have this to take all the self-conceit out of you, that you are a sinful man—if you have not realised that, it will be no gospel to you that Jesus Christ has died, the just for the unjust, and lives to cleanse us.”

“The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is the rule of God through Christ. It is present wherever wills bow to Him; it is future, as to complete realisation, in the heaven from which it comes, and to which, like its King, it belongs even while on earth.”

“Its subjects can only be those who feel their dependence, and in poverty of spirit have cast off self-will and self-reliance. ‘Theirs is the kingdom’ does not mean ‘they shall rule,’ but ‘of them shall be its subjects.’”

About those who mourn:

They who take “the true measure of themself cannot but sorrow over the frightful gulf between what he should and might be and what he is, for he knows that there is more than misfortune or unavoidable creatural weakness at work. The grim reality of sin has to be reckoned in. Personal responsibility and guilt are facts. The soul that has once seen its own past as it is, and looked steadily down into the depths of its own being, cannot choose but ‘mourn.’ Such contrition underlies all moral progress.”

“The comfort is filtered to us in drops here; it pours in a flood hereafter.”

“’God Himself shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ The hope of that consolation is itself consolation.”
…..
About the Meek:


“Social life among us is in flagrant contradiction of this Beatitude; and as for national life, all ‘Christian nations’ agree that to apply Christ’s precept to it would be absurd and suicidal.”

“Notice that this meekness naturally follows the preceding dispositions. He who knows himself and has learned the depth of his own evil will not be swift to blaze up at slights or wrongs. The true meekness is not mere natural disposition, but the direct outcome of poverty of spirit and the consequent sorrow. So, it is a test of their reality. Many a man will indulge in confessions of sin, and crackle up in sputtering heat of indignation at some slight or offence. If he does, his lowly words have had little meaning”

“If I have found out anything of my own sin, if my eyes have been filled with tears and my heart with conscious unworthiness before Him, oh, then, surely I shall not kick or murmur against discipline of which the main purpose is to rid me of the evil which is slaying me; but rather I shall recognise in the sorrows that do fall upon me, in the losses and disappointments and empty places in my life and heart, one way of God’s fulfilling His great promise, ‘From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, I will cleanse you.’”

“The truly meek heart remains unprovoked amidst all provocation. Most men are like dogs that answer bark for bark, and only make night hideous and themselves hoarse thereby. But it is our business to meet evil with good; and the more we are depreciated, the more we are harmed, the more we are circled about by malice and by scorn, the more patiently and persistently to love on.”

“Meekness makes no claims upon others. Plenty of people are sore all over with the irritation caused by not getting what they consider due respect. They howl and whine because they are not appreciated. Do not expect much of men. Make no demands, if for no better reason than because the more you demand the less you will get; and the less you seem to think to be your due, the more likely you are to receive what you desire.”


“Gentleness is the strongest force in the world, and the soldiers of Christ are to be priests, and to fight the battles of the Kingdom, robed, not in jingling, shining armour or with sharp swords, nor with fierce and eager bitterness of controversy, but in the meekness which overcomes.”

“Christ’s meek men do live and thrive, and are blessed in a true possession of earthly good, even though their outward portion of it may be very small.”

Those “who are meekly recipient, meekly enduring, meekly obedient, shall have in their hearts, even here, a quiet fountain of peace which shall make the wilderness rejoice and blossom as the rose, and hereafter shall be crowned with the lordship of all. Meekness overcomes, ‘and he that overcometh shall inherit all things.’”

“In the future the kingdom of heaven will be a kingdom of the earth, and the meek saints shall reign with the King who is meek and lowly of heart.”

There are hungers which are all unblessed, greedy appetites… which are misery when unsatisfied, and disgust when satiated. But we are meant to be righteous.”

This beatitude describes the “divine hunger of the soul, and its satisfaction which is sure.”

The production of such a character, the aiming after the perfection of spirit and of conduct, is the highest aim that a man can set before him. There are plenty of other hungers of the soul that are legitimate. There are many of them that are bracing and ennobling and elevating. It is impossible not to hunger for the supply of physical necessities. It is good to long for love, for wisdom. It is better to long most to be good men and women. For what are we here for? To enjoy? To work? To know? Yes! But it is not conduct, and it is still less thought, and it is least of all enjoyment, in any of its forms, which is the purpose of life, and ought to be our aim here upon earth. We are here to learn to be; and the cultivation and production of characters that lie parallel with the will of God is the Omega of all our life in the flesh. All these other things, even the highest of them, the yearning desire… ought to be subordinate to this further purpose of being good men and women. All these are scaffolding; the building is a character conformed to God’s will and assimilated to Christ’s likeness.”


“When thus a man’s self-conceit is beaten out of him, and he knows how far he is from the possession of any real, deep righteousness of his own; and when, further, his heart has glowed with the consciousness of forgiveness; and when, further, his will has bowed itself before the Father in heaven, then there will spring in his heart a hungering and thirsting, deeper far and far more certain of fruition, than ever can be realised in another heart, a stranger to such experiences. Brethren, if we are ever to possess the righteousness which is itself blessed, it must be because we have the hunger and the thirst which are sharpened and accentuated by profound discovery of our own evil, lowly penitence before God, and glad assurance of free and full forgiveness.
Then note, still further, how that which is pronounced blessed is not the realisation of a desire, but the desire itself. And that is so, not only because, as I said, all noble aspiration is good, fulfilled or unfulfilled, and aim is of more importance than achievement, and what a man strongly wishes is often the revelation of his deepest self, and the prophecy of what he will be; but Christ puts the desire for a certain quality here as in line with the possession of a number of other qualities attained, because He would hint to us that such a righteousness as shall satisfy the immortal hunger and thirst of our souls is one to be received in answer to longing, and not to be manufactured by our own efforts.”

“Think of the picture that it suggests—the ravenous desire of a starving man, the almost fierce longing of a parched throat. Is that a picture of the intensity, of the depth, of our desires to be good? Do we professing Christian men and women long to be delivered from our evils and to be clothed in righteousness, with an honesty and an earnestness and a continuity of longing.”

“The progressive fulfilment here points to completeness in heaven, when we shall behold His face in righteousness, and be satisfied when we awake in His likeness.”

About those “who show mercy”:

“A life of selfishness is hell; a life of mercy is sweet with some savour of heaven.”

“We have not done what the worst men and our most malicious enemies have a right to receive from us when we say, with the cowardly insincerity of the world, ‘I can forgive but I cannot forget.’ That is no forgiveness, and that is no mercifulness It is not enough to stand still, unresisting. There must be a hand of helpfulness stretched out, and a gush of pity and mercifulness in the heart, if we are to do what our Master has done for us all, and what our Master requires us to do for one another. Mercifulness is the active side of the passive meekness.”

True, lasting, reliable, conquering mercifulness has a double source. The consciousness of our own weakness, the sadness that creeps over the heart when it makes the discovery of its own sin, the bowed submission primarily to the will of God, and secondarily to the antagonisms which, in subservience to that will, we may meet in life, and the yearning desire for a fuller righteousness and a more lustrous purity in our own lives and characters—these are the experiences which will make a man gentle in his judgment of his brother, and full of melting charity in all his dealings with him. If I know how dark my own nature is, how prone to uncommitted evils, how little I have to thank myself for the virtues that I have practised, which are largely due to my exemption from temptation and to my opportunities, and how little I have in my own self that I can venture to bring to the stern judgment which I am tempted to apply to other people, then the words of censure will falter on my tongue, and the bitter construction of my brother’s conduct and character will be muffled in silence.”


“shall I not have learned how divine a thing it is to give to the unworthy, and so be impelled to communicate what I have already received? ‘Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us.’ They only are deeply, through and through, universally and always merciful who have received mercy. The light is reflected at the same angle as it falls, and the only way by which there can come from our faces and lives a glory that shall lighten many dark hearts, and make sunshine in many a shady place, is that these hearts shall have turned full to the very fountain itself of heavenly radiance, and so ‘have received of the Lord that which also’ they ‘deliver’ unto men.”

“Now, it is a wretched weakening of that great thought to suppose that it means that if A. is merciful to B., B. will be merciful to A. That is sometimes true, and sometimes it is not. It does not so very much matter whether it is true or not; that is not what Jesus Christ means. All these Beatitudes are God’s gifts, and this is God’s gift too. It is His mercy which the merciful man obtains.”

“No man who, having received the mercy of God, lives harsh, hard, self-absorbed, implacable, and uncommunicative.”


…..

About the “Pure in Heart”:

“Is there one of us that can imagine himself possessed of a character fitting him for the vision of God, or such as to make him bear with delight that dazzling blaze? ‘They shall see God,’ whom ‘no man hath seen at any time, nor can see.’ Surely the requirement is impossible, and the promise not less so. But does Jesus Christ mock us with demands that cannot be satisfied, and dangle before us hopes that can never be realised?”

“These words, lofty and remote as they seem, are in truth amongst the most hopeful and radiant that ever came from even His lips. For they offer the realisation of an apparently impossible character, they promise the possession of an apparently impossible vision; and they soothe fears, and tell us that the sight from which, were it possible, we should sometimes fain shrink, is the source of our purest gladness.”
“A very, very little grain of dye stuff will darken miles of a river, and make it incapable of reflecting the blue sky and the sparkling stars. The least evil done and loved blurs and blots, if it does not eclipse, for us the doers the very Sun of Righteousness Himself. No sinful men can walk in the midst of that fiery furnace and not be consumed. ‘The pure in heart’—and only they—’shall see God.’”


“The vision of God, even in that incipient and imperfect form which is possible upon earth, is the one thing that will calm our distractions, that will supply our needs, that will lift our lives to a level of serene power and blessedness, unattainable by any other way. Such a sight will dim all the dazzling illusions of earth, as, when the sun leaps into the heavens, the stars hide their faces and faint into invisibility. It will make us lords of ourselves, masters of the world, kings over time and sense and the universe. Everything will be different when ‘earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.’ That is what is possible for a Christian holding fast by Jesus Christ, and in Him having communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit.”

“purity is plainly progressive, and as it increases, so does the vision of God grow. The more the glasses of the telescope are cleansed, the brighter does the great star shine to the gazer.”

“The sight makes us pure, and purity makes us see. Thus, heaven will be a state of ever-increasing, reciprocally acting sight and holiness. Like Him because we see Him, we shall see Him more because we have assimilated what we see, as the sunshine opens the petals, and tints the flower with its own colours the more deeply, the wider it opens.”

About the “Peacemakers”:

“Christ’s peacemaker must be something more than a mere composer of men’s quarrels.”

“The Christian peacemaker is first to seek to bring about peace between men and God, by beseeching them to be reconciled to Him, and then afterwards, as a consequence of this, is to seek to diffuse through all human relations the blessed unity and amity which flow most surely from the common possession of the peace of God.”

“If we consider the Scriptural usage of this great word ‘peace,’ and all the ground that it covers in human experience; if we remember that it enters as an element into Christ’s own name, the ‘Peace-Bringer,’ the ‘Prince of Peace’; we shall be obliged to look for some far deeper meaning before we can understand the sweep of our Lord’s intention here.” “I do not think that I am going one inch too far, or forcing meanings into His words which they are not intended to bear, when I say that the first characteristic of the peace, which His disciples have been passed through their apprenticeship in order to fit them to bring, is the peace of reconciliation with God. The cause of all the other fightings in the world is that men’s relation to the Father in heaven is disturbed, and that, whilst there flow out from Him only amity and love, these are met by us with antagonism often, with opposition of will often, with alienation of heart often, and with indifference and forgetfulness almost uniformly. So the first thing to be done to make men at peace with one another and with themselves is to rectify their relation to God, and bring peace there.”


“The Christian who moves thus among men seeking to diffuse everywhere the peace with God which fills his own soul, and the peace with all men which they only who have the higher peace can preserve unbroken in their quiet, meek hearts, will be more or less recognised as God-like by men, and will have in his own heart the witness that he is called by God His child. He will bear visibly the image of his Father, and will hear the voice that speaks to him too as unto a son.”
…..


About the Persecuted:

“Jesus is not summoning men to dominion, honour, and victory; but to scorn and suffering. His own crown, He knew, was first to be twisted of thorns, and copies of it were to wound His followers’ brows. Yet even that fate was blessed; for to suffer for righteousness, which is to suffer for Him, brings elevation of spirit, a solemn joy, secret supplies of strength, and sweet intimacies of communion else unknown. The noble army of martyrs rose before His thoughts as He spoke”

FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SUPPORT:

Domestic Violence Statistics

https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/understand-domestic-violence/facts-violence-women/domestic-violence-statistics/

http://www.dvconnect.org/about/domestic-violence-statistics/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_Australia

https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/domestic-and-family-violence-statistics

Extra Resources:

The reason Jesus sat down to deliver the Sermon on the Mount was because a Rabbi commonly sat down when he taught. If someone spoke while standing or walking, it was considered to be a bit more informal or unofficial. But as soon as he sat down, the words were understood to be authoritative and official. Its not something we see as much in our culture, and its totally foreign to me personally. If I have something important to say, I feel much more comfortable upright and mobile.

John Macarthur:

“When Jesus sat down and delivered the Sermon on the Mount, He spoke from His divine chair with absolute authority as the sovereign King.”

Matthew is so keen to set the stage of this sermon that there is a Jewish idiom hidden to a lot of our English translations. It literally says: “and opening his mouth, he began to teach them.” As Bill Mounce says: “If you were in a sarcastic mood you might respond, “How else would he teach? With a closed mouth?” This is why the NIV skips it entirely: “he began to teach them,” as well as most other translations (HCSB, NRSV, NET, NLT). They see it as unnecessarily redundant. The ESV, NASB, and KJV keep the phrase.”

As John Macarthur explains: “Matthew’s speaking of Jesus ‘opening His mouth’ as ‘He began to teach them’ was not a superfluous statement of the obvious, but was a common colloquialism used to introduce a message that was especially solemn and important. It was used also to indicate intimate, heartfelt testimony or sharing. Jesus sermon was both authoritative and intimate; it was of the utmost importance and was delivered with the utmost concern.”

Mounce concludes: “I think that there is enough of a pattern (In the OT) to show that it was a way of adding solemnity to what was to be said”. Carson comments that it reflects OT roots and “is used in solemn or revelatory contexts.” It is not that Jesus just started saying the Sermon on the Mount. He looked around at the audience and solemnly began his most memorable sermon. We should be very careful at dropping out entire phrases in translation, even if there is not an easy counterpart in English.

https://bibleproject.com/blog/sermon-mount-jesus-new-moses/

Hyatt Moore’s Art can be found at:
http://www.hyattmoore.com/egallery/2018/01/26/the-beatitudes/

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-does-it-really-mean-to-be-blessed