Daily Reading: September 28

Read Matt 5:1–20
Mat 5:10-11 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account… 17 “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…20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Oftentimes, well most of the time people read and interpret the Beatitudes as law. Probably because they do not see themselves as being blessed but rather they do not look anything like those being blessed. But the Beatitudes are not law. The law curses. Jesus is blessing here, just as he blessed creation at the beginning. We also probably see them as law because Jesus does follow them with teaching on the law of God.

But these are blessings! Just as Jesus called the Israelites to himself on Mt. Sinai and taught them from the cloud, now he speaks to them from the mount visibly with his mouth. His first words to them are blessing. Jesus continues to speak to us, his people with blessing because we are joined by faith to him and he to us. If we belong to Jesus, we will be doing these things that Jesus blesses. We will be doing them because Jesus did them. In Christ, it is no longer we that live but Christ who lives in us. So as Jesus lives out his life in us, we will be living a life of blessing. You may not be seeing it. We hardly do. But others will see it in our lives. Most importantly Jesus knows.

But Jesus does turn to the law eventually. He tells us he has come to fulfill the law. Until he fulfills the law not one iota of the law will be laid aside. But Jesus has fulfilled the law for us and he nailed it to the cross taking away its accusations at us. The Scribes and Pharisees were pretty meticulous about obeying the law outwardly. But they did it out of obligation and not our of faith. So Jesus tells us our righteousness has to exceed theirs if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. Great! How are we going to do that?

Good news, we aren’t. Jesus’ life did. Jesus offers to us his righteousness. If we believe that he gives us his righteousness freely, it is ours. Jesus gives us his righteousness where he has taken on our iniquity, in baptism. As Jesus was baptized, he identified himself as one of us, a sinner. As we are baptized into Christ, we are identified as Christ and his righteousness. He gives us the Holy Spirit to believe this. His Holy Spirit lives out the Beatitudes in our lives. We are then blessed by Christ.

Lord Jesus Christ, continue always to give us the Holy Spirit and faith, that your righteousness may be our own so we may live out your life of blessedness now in this world and when you usher in your kingdom visibly on the day of your revelation. Amen.

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