What if the Sermon on the Mount was actually useful for how we are to be living now? It would be really important to learn it and to live it. How could we learn it well enough to live it? There is a key built into it; the beatitudes!
Acronyms – a word from words
Snipers are taught how to focus on the basics of their craft with an acronym (a word where each letter marks a word you are to learn): BRASS
B=breath (the idea is that you need to stay relaxed all the way down to your trigger finger, so keep the oxygen flowing by breathing normally)
R=relax (choose to let your muscles be at rest, not tense)
A=aim (focus on your target and stay focused while you keep breathing in a relaxed manner)
S=squeeze (don’t pull the trigger, that would pull your weapon just slightly enough for a bad shot. Slowly squeeze the trigger while keeping your aim in a relaxed state of normal breathing)
S=score (having done all of the above, you should hit your target consistently)
Every time a sniper aims at his target he needs to apply the training he has been given but must do so without a long lecture or manual. Thus, he says to himself “Brass” and flows through the movements with precision.
Songs – a story in Rhythm
Philippians 2:5-11 is an ancient song telling the story of Jesus’ incarnation, life, death, resurrection and exaltation. We have a modern version of it.
He came from heaven to ______
To show the ______
From the earth to ____________
my _______ to _____
From the cross to ________, from the grave to ______
Lord I lift _________ on high!
Easy to memorize? Pretty much. If you know that song it is relatively easy to memorize Philippians 2:5-11 which is the earlier song and from there to tell the Gospel story quite naturally.
Chiasmus – X marks the spot
Have you ever heard people express concern about “X-mas”? The fear is that Christ has been taken out of Christmas and replaced with an X. Technically that is not the case. Originally it is not an X, it is the Greek letter Chi X which is the first letter in Christ when written in Greek; X=Chi.
CHIasmus is a pattern like an X that is designed to help us memorize something, or at least to see the highlight of what is important. Notice an X-like pattern forming
Main point for main Idea 1
Sub-point A for idea 1
Sub-point B for idea 1
Sub-point C for idea 1
Sub-point C of idea 2
Sub-point B for idea 2
Sub-point A for idea 2
Main point for main idea 2
It forms what kind of reminds one of the left side of X. That is what I see in the Beatitudes. There are two main points, the first and the last. How do we know? Let’s look at Matthew 5:3-10
(3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(4) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
(5) “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
(6) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
(7) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
(8) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(9) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(10) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What stands out?
Notice something in verse 3 and verse 10 that is the same – for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those are like bookends to what is being said. They are the start and end to his main point. Where is the main point? X marks the spot. At the center of this structure will come the MAIN THING Jesus says his apprentices need to know to live the life that is blessed. (We will build up to that).
What else is interesting about these groups?
Which sounds more blessed?
Poor, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty…
- Merciful, pure, peacemaking righteous..
The two groups are not identical in tone, even though they both relate to for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Yet, Jesus says they are both blessed.
That is what we will explore on Sunday!