The pattern of Jesus’ Sermon

Russell Minick Leave a Comment

Jesus’ baptism was his pledge of allegiance to the kingdom of Heaven (God ruling).  After Jesus went public with his commitment to the kingdom, he was thrust into battle.
Wandering for 40 days in the wilderness, a mini-Exodus, Jesus had the tempter offer him physical, relational and spiritual help.  The only thing Jesus needed to do was to get his needs on his own, without reference to the Father.  Jesus would not.  Then the tempter fled and God provided care; in due season.
Jesus then goes to minister to others.  Matthew chapter 4 has Jesus healing, freeing from demonic craziness and teaching truth.  He then gets where people can hear him and repeats a word 8 times, linking it to what John the baptist, and he himself, had been preaching as good news: God in charge; the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are the poor in spirit – For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
*Blessed are those who mourn – for they shall be comforted.
**Blessed are the meek – for they shall inherit the earth
***Blessed are those who crave righteousness – for they shall be satisfied.
****Be ye “telos” like your Father
***Blessed are the merciful – for they shall receive mercy
**Blessed are the pure in heart – for they shall see God.
*Blessed are the peacemakers – for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness – Fortheirsisthekingdom ofHeaven.

This is an X pattern, a chiasm.  It is a way of helping link things together so you can remember them better. Here is the pattern:

A1 key point
  B1
    C1
      D1
the main point is this 
      D2
    C2
  B2
A2 key point
The first and last key points are Blessed – Theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.  Who?  The poor in spirit and the persecuted for righteousness.  Both are counter-intuitive.  Poor and persecuted sounds bad, not blessed. It is a good way to get our attention.  It is also a good way for us to see what is key.  Blessedness of life is linked to God in charge, the kingdom of Heaven.
The central point is the main point.  It is where everything else is funneling inward.  The blessedness of God in charge comes down to being “perfect/telos” like our heavenly father, not by doing things to impress others.
Be ye perfect is the main point.  It is a problem translation.  τέλειοι is translated perfect.  Robertson’s Word Pictures says:

Mat 5:48

Perfect (teleioi). The word comes from telos, end, goal, limit. Here it is the goal set before us, the absolute standard of our Heavenly Father. The word is used also for relative perfection as of adults compared with children.

Older forms of English used the word perfection differently than how we tend to think of things. Like Robertson notes, it is mature.  An adult is a perfected child.  A dog is a perfected puppy.  A tree is a perfected acorn.  It means to complete.  It is the word that Jesus cries out upon his death: “it is finished”.

So how should we understand Jesus’ central point?  Grow up and be everything you were created to be, a created being in the image of God your father.  What does that look like?  It means loving God first, such that you are motivated by how He perceives you, rather than by worrying about how others perceive you.  It means that God is the life source coming up through your roots which grow you into the Psalm 1 tree that is fruitful, fresh and fulfilled.  By having God in charge, you fully come to life.  But this is against the grain of this world, and doing so is not easy, but still, it is the blessed life.


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