John Ortberg framed the perfect question in his book ‘Who Is This Man?’
There’s no mystery to the question, the historical evidence alone answers the obvious, his name is Jesus. But this simply only scratches the surface. To explore this question is to know the person and that is a life journey that offers the greatest of joy.
But Ortberg is right to frame it in a question, since the question frames the pursuit, the endeavour, the ambition, which is to know Him.
The Apostle Paul said it well, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” To know Him is to relentlessly pursue the question, who is this man? The searching never stops, to know that we will never fully realise His magnificence, His majesty and grace this side of eternity only establishes the significance of the One we call Christ.
As I write this blog our worship team rehearse for our morning service, ‘Oh praise the name of the Lord our God, Oh praise His name forever more.’ In this series ‘Messages From The Hill’ we will explore the biblical passages found in Matthew chapter five, referred to as the Sermon On The Mount. This message is a preacher’s bread and butter. I’ve heard it taught countless times from a child’s perspective in kids church to the greats of Christian literature, from Matthew Henry to John Stott. I don’t feel qualified to add to their words but only hope to share my journey. Ready, set, go!
It all begins with a whisper, a chatter, a question; who is this man?
Chronologically in this Gospel account, the man they call ‘the baptist’ is shouting in the Judean wilderness ‘the One is coming’, but this John seems crazy. There are reports of a man from Nazareth who took a dip, where apparently God spoke, though maybe that’s just a story. This little known carpenter’s son has now built a following of twelve ragged followers, a band of brothers, they call them disciples. They think he is the messiah.
The people heard about his trip to Galilee, he preached ‘good news’ and the sick were healed and now he is up there on the hill talking. Let’s go listen and find out who is this man? Scripture tells ‘One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.’ Right there in a moment of time the whispers of a messiah became life.
His words were revolutionary and for the first time in a long time this religious leader actually echoed the heart of God. The people had become accustomed to empty words from pious men pretending to be godly. But this was different. Jesus sat down to talk, it wasn’t a hate filled tirade and then a quick escape. His words gave life, he spoke like he actually cared. With every word there was an echo of mercy filled with the substance of grace. And then the message that today gives us a charter, a code to live by. Qualities that we aim to demonstrate daily. Attributes that can be seen from a distance. Ethics that would shine a light in the darkness, the Beatitudes.
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Pause and Selah.
Till next time,