The Campus House Podcast is our collection of Sunday teachings, meant to encourage and equip you in your relationship with Jesus. Campus House invites you to listen, dive deeper into the Word, and catch a glimpse of God’s ongoing work in your life and in our ministry.
These four verses are a bridge in the Sermon on the Mount between the Blessings and the Commands. In them Jesus makes two statements that would have sent a collective gasp through the original audience and still reverberates in how we view Jesus, Scripture, identity, and how we are to live a life of discipleship. The first mic drop is ”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.” Jesus was not anti-OT. He actually came to fill it full - to recapture the original intent and purpose of the Law, to reinterpret it through the lens of the cross, to strip away the layers of religion to get to the heart of the Gospel. Jesus completes the picture.
The second statement is this: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus is calling us to what is impossible to accomplish in our own strength and ability. This statement of Jesus looks backward toward the Beatitudes and forward toward the Cross. The Beatitudes describe the upside-down nature of the Kingdom where the poor and powerless, the grieving and desperate get the keys to the Kingdom and its justice, comfort, and blessing. The Cross encapsulates the reality that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Pascal wrote: “The law demands what it cannot give; grace gives all it demands. No longer are we governed externally by a list of moral duties; we’re now compelled internally to a lifestyle of radical, holy love because of the Person who’s taken up residence within.”
Live out what is already true.
You are righteous. Be righteous.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed them and shows us what the lives of his followers look like in their everyday world. In Matthew 5:10-16 in particular, Jesus tells his disciples about the kind of influence they are in the world. He says, “You are salt” and “You are light.” Through this imagery, he demonstrates how Christians are those who prevent decay, preserve life, and enhance the flavor of their local communities (salt) and who also expose the darkness of sin and reveal the truth, hope and love of God. Though Christians are distinct from the rest of the world, and it may be fearful to engage in our societies, Jesus confirms that believers are significant parts of their local communities. We must not become isolated from or indifferent to our society, but rather invested and involved for the good of others and the glory of God.
The Sermon on the Mount has been called Jesus’s “manifesto,” describing the in-breaking Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus begins, not with commands, but with blessings or “congratulations” on the poor and powerless, on those grieving and desperate for justice and righteousness. In His promises, Jesus is inviting them (and us) to LOOK UP and receive the fullness, comfort, and satisfaction of the Kingdom. The “Need Beatitudes” flow into the “Help Beatitudes” and an invitation to LOOK BACK at God’s track record of mercy; to LOOK IN and assess the motivations and affections of our heart; and to LOOK OUT as we step into the brokenness and chaos all around us and become agents of reconciliation and peace. We are called to be a “Conduit of Blessing” as the blessings of His mercy and peace take root in our lives, transform us from the inside out, and then overflow into a life of ministry and mission as we extend His grace and reconciliation in every context.
Questions for Reflections & Discussion
What does this passage say about God’s character and nature?
What does it mean to be “pure in heart,” to be singularly devoted to Christ?
Where have you seen mercy, peacemaking, focused devotion on display?
What are each of these countering in the world?
What is a tangible way you can be source of mercy and reconciliation this week?
“We never lay hold of our nothingness before God and, consequently, we never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with him. But when we accept ownership of our powerlessness and helplessness, when we acknowledge that we are paupers at the door of God’s mercy, then God can make something beautiful out of us.” - Brennan Manning
“What do I mean when I use the word ‘authentic.’ I mean that which is genuine, and sincere, and honest, and thorough. I mean that which is not inferior, and hollow, and formal, and false, and counterfeit, and sham, and nominal. ‘Authentic’ is not mere show, and pretense, and skin-deep feeling, and temporary profession, and works only on the outside. It is something inward, solid, substantial, intrinsic, living, lasting. If you want to know whether your religion is authentic, test it by ‘the place it occupies,’ in the depths of who you are. It is not enough that it is in your head. It is not enough that it is on your lips. It is not enough that it is in your feelings. It must be in your heart. It must hold the reins. It must sway the affections. It must lead the will. It must direct the tastes. It must influence the choices and decisions. It must fill the deepest, inmost place in your soul throughout your journey from grace to glory.” - J. C. Ryle
Hebrews 4:16; Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 1:3; Titus 3:4; Luke 6:36; Ephesians 4:32; Luke 6:45; Romans 15:13; Romans 5:6,11; Ephesians 2:16,17
Chapter 4 of Matthew’s gospel not only sets the context for our upcoming series on the Sermon on the Mount, but paints a portrait of the earthly ministry of Jesus and the essence of his invitation, his calling, on all would receive it. Verse 23 states, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” The Good News being proclaimed was that the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived and the healing of sickness and disease was a “foretaste,” a preview of the Kingdom promise - the restoration of all things. Jesus first calls people to repentance (to turn from sin and self-made “kingdoms”) and then to follow him(to receive His salvation and be his apprentice). The call to repentance, discipleship, and Kingdom restoration encapsulates the “calling” Jesus is still extending to the world, to us. John adds in his gospel that for all who receive (Jesus), who call on his name, he gives the right to become children of God.
In the beginning chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus began His ministry with the earth-shaking announcement that the long-awaited Kingdom of Heaven was near. What follows in chapters 5-9 is a myriad of show and tell moments; miracles of healing and provision as well as descriptive stories and examples of what the Kingdom is like including the Sermon on the Mount. The first 12 verses of this sermon are called the beatitudes, a Latin word for “blessed” or (more accurately) “congratulations.”
In the first four blessings, Jesus is stating what already is true about the Kingdom of God and it is shocking. These are descriptions of sheer grace for people who lack, who are broken, who are empty and desperate, who know and feel the need for peace and hope and joy. Jesus is announcing congratulations, not because of their ability to get it right, but in light of their inability to even come close. To the dependent poor, He gives the Kingdom. To the grief-stricken, He gives comfort. To the powerless, He gives the earth. To those desperate for justice, He gives satisfaction. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is the blessing on the Broken. This is grace.
“The good news means that we can stop lying to ourselves. This grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this, I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.” - Brennan Manning
What does this say about God’s love for the world? About God’s love for you?
Which of these beatitudes do you, personally, relate to the most?
Who are the spiritually bankrupt, the grieving, the left out, the justice deprived in your context?
What are the promises attached to these blessings? How do you feel about those promises?
In what ways can you tangibly reflect and demonstrate God’s “blessings” to those around you?
Psalm 46 uses powerful imagery to depict why Christians can have great confidence and great courage even in times of great chaos and crisis and insecurity. When we face the insecurities of this life, we have a source of security that will not fail. The Psalm depicts God as both a powerful defender and powerful protector. He is with his people, defending and protecting, even in the worst of times. He is “God with us,” Immanuel. We especially talk about Immanuel at Christmas time as we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus. Psalm 46 applies Immanuel, God with us, to our greatest insecurities. And it therefore shows us how the incarnation of Christ is our protection against the insecurities of this life.
Psalm 46 Exodus 14:13 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 Matthew 27:51, 54 Mark 15:30-32, 34 2 Corinthians 5:20 Romans 8:28
As Jesus followers, we are in process with Him; constantly being changed (transformed, set apart, sanctified) through His grace and as He fills more and more of our periphery, everything (motivation, purpose, work, relationships) gets reoriented to the stunning reality of His love. This ongoing “reframing” happens in each of us, but also in all of us collectively: “Like living stones, you are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).
For the last 3 months, Acts has been our case study. As we wrap up the series, some verses from chapters 11 and 13 offer a portrait of a Jesus follower (via a snapshot of Barnabas), and adds to the picture of the early church. In the life of Barnabas we see grace in its various forms: generosity, advocacy, encouragement, exhortation, teaching, shepherding, and faith. And in the church in Antioch we see the church as an “outpost of the Kingdom”: empowered by the Spirit, extending the boundaries lines of the Kingdom, proclaiming the good news of Jesus to all people, teaching, nurturing, discipling, sharing life and possessions to meet felt needs in the larger church body.
In Antioch, as the church was praying and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” In a very real sense, we, too, have been “set apart’. We have been called by Jesus to trust and follow. We, too, have each been commissioned and “sent” by the Spirit for the work of the Kingdom. As a church, we, too, are called to be an outpost of the Kingdom.
This is our calling, each of us and all of us:
“A life built on Jesus, in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of Christ and His Kingdom as we move in mission with one another.”