Session #025 Mount Makarios
Scripture Matthew 5:1-2
Summary Although familiar and often quoted, the Sermon on the Mount is not easily understood or applied. This introduction provides the foundation needed before one attempts to fully appropriate the teachings of Jesus. In this teaching, Henson makes four key observations of Matt 5:1-2, welcomes one and all to Mount Makarios (the Mountain of Blessedness, Matt 5:3-12), and then provides a broad structure of Jesus’ Kingdom Manifesto. Listen, and then dive deep with us in the next sessions.
And seeing the multitudes (ochlos), He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: Matthew 5:1-2
Four Key Points
Jesus taught ‘them’: Who did Jesus teach?
Definitely, His disciples and the multitudes were also present. Both groups followed, but not all believed (Matthew 7:28–8:1).
“He went up on a mountain” which is significant. Mountains are high places and places of worship. Just as Moses had received the Law from God at Mt Sinai, Jesus gave the Law as God and King.
The reception of the Law is known as The Torah or Pentateuch which consists of the first five books of the Old Testament. Jesus had also given Five Discourses that were recorded in Matthew,
Matthew 5-7: Sermon on the Mount (Moses/Law)
Matthew 10: Commissioning of the Twelve (Joshua/Conquest)
Matthew 13: Parables of the kingdom (Solomon/Wisdom)
Matthew 18: Community of the King (Elijah/Church)
Matthew 23-25: Olivet Discourse (Jeremiah and Prophets/Temple)
Jesus is the one greater than Moses. Jesus is leading the people out in a New Exodus, giving the people a New Covenant. Jesus is going to constitute a New People, and for the Law, there will be a New Enablement.
“When He Was Seated” points to a Rabbinic custom to sit when speaking with authority. All rabbis sat when they taught (Luke 4:20 and John 19:13). Today Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of the Father. Here as Jesus is up at the Mountain and sits down, He assumes a posture and position of authority, not just as a rabbi, but as Messiah.
“He opened His mouth and taught them.” This appears to be obvious and redundant and modern translations omit this phrase (except in KJV, ESV, NASB). Many scholars realized that this is a Jewish idiom which is not a redundant phrase, but one that indicates the solemnity and seriousness of what is being said. Examples can be found in Acts 8:35, Acts 10:34, Job 3:1 and Daniel 10:16.
Sermon On The Mount: Kingdom Manifesto
A Manifesto is a statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.
John Stott describes the Sermon on the Mount as “… the nearest thing to a manifesto that [Jesus] ever uttered, for it is His own description of what He wanted His followers to be and to do.”
David Platt says that it “…teaches us what it means to be a citizen of Christ’s kingdom.”
The Sermon on the Mount is not a list of things to do that we may be accepted by God. We are already accepted because of what Jesus did. It is not about salvation but about the character and conduct of those who have been saved by Christ. It is not the gospel but the ways (law) of the kingdom. It is not achieved by self-effort but by the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).
Welcome to MOUNT MAKARIOS (the Mountain of Blessedness)
The origin of the word is “beatus”>“beatitudo”> “beatitude” which is a state of utmost bliss (blessedness). Blessed is not necessarily “happy” or “fortunate” or “lucky” which many think.
In Greek, “makarios” is used to refer to the gods which are higher-order, to the dead (humans who have gone into the other world, become gods), to the elite, powerful and wealthy. In the Old Testament, it referred to right living which results in the good life and material possessions.
As Jesus the King, He invites all to kingdom Blessedness, but not in the way the world defines it. “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36)
Andre Chouraqui, Jewish New Testament Translator, would describe ‘ashrei” (blessedness in Hebrew) to be “the thrill of the traveller who’s about to reach his goal. He’s been on a long, hard journey, but he’s on the right path and he’s almost home.”. This sounds like “a race” to me, with the start that is: Most Exhilarating, the end that is: Most Exciting and the middle that is: Most Exasperating. which require Endurance.
One can conclude that the best translation for Makarios can mean – Congratulations. You are on the right road. You are going to make it. It is a word of affirmation and approval by God.
“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 hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:3–12).
We want to get up this mountain of blessedness, we enter the lift, and the only buttons available are those that take us to the basement levels – B1 to B8. Yes, the way up Mount Makarios is down, Jesus’ culture is counter to what we know.
This seems to make no sense because we have always been told to believe in ourselves, to maximize our strengths, to realize our potential, to not let anyone get the better of us, to never settle for anything but the best. And many of the churches’ messages sound like that too.
We will try and try and try, and then fail and fail and fail. It is not about trying harder, doing more, gaining power and control; but absolute surrender. It starts with being poor in spirit, or spiritual bankruptcy, an acknowledgement that we cannot save ourselves, that we desperately need the rule of the reign of God (the kingdom of God).
We talk about possessing the kingdom but it begins when we are first possessed by the King. That is what the kingdom of God is, the rule and reign of God. To possess the kingdom, be possessed by the King.
Example of Jesus: The Kenosis (self-emptying) of the Christ
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5–11).
The Now-and-not-yet of the Kingdom
The basement levels B1 and B8 represent the present tense; B2 to B7 represents the future tense.
We look to the fullness of the kingdom, and that keeps us going. In the example of Jesus, He endured the cross, scorning its shame before being seated down at the right hand of God, (Hebrews 12:2) and to be exalted over all (Philippians 2:9-11).
The Beatitudes: Foundational Text of the Sermon
Jesus then proceeds to unpack this text. Hence, the need to understand these well and fully. If not, the rest of the sermon on the Mount will make no sense at all.
Identity: Salt and Light
Law and Prophets: Righteousness
1. Therefore (5:19) whoever breaks/teaches the commandments
Interpretation: But I say to you
2. Therefore (5:48) be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect
Hiddenness: Deeds, Prayer and Fasting
3a. Therefore (6:2) do not be like the hypocrites
3b. Therefore (6:8) do not be like the hypocrites and heathens
Treasures: Distractions and Worry
4a. Therefore (6:25), do not worry
4b. Therefore (6:31), do not worry
4c. Therefore (6:34), do not worry
Law and Prophets: Justice and Mercy
5. Therefore (7:12), whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them
Choice: Deception and Consequences
6. Therefore (7:20), by their fruits you will know them
Father’s Will: Obedience
7. Therefore (7:24) whoever hears and does is like a wise man
Welcome to Mount Makarios. The King is serious: very serious when He taught the Sermon of the Mount which is the kingdom Manifesto, a public declaration, made obvious to all disciples. Jesus shows the way and sets the example, calling all to Follow Jesus. This can be viewed and understood through the cross where Jesus was the Sacrifice, so freely we have received, freely we give. A life enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit begins with surrender to the rule and reign of the King.