Bible Class: The Blessings of Christ Part 2

Before you begin this study read Matthew 18:21-35

Servants who have approached the master with a poor spirit, acknowledging how broken and unrighteous we are without him and mourning over the sins we have committed, will have the master bring them into his kingdom and comfort us.  Only in this state can we with meekness bring our power under his control and crave the righteousness which he has promised to fill us with.   What a joy  for the  servant who is comforted and filled, who possesses a share of the master’s present kingdom  and all things on the earth becomes his.

But the question that has vexed forgiven servants for centuries is this:  What do you do once you are free?  What do you do with this new freedom?  How do you respond to when your master has made you a co-owner in the kingdom?

Jesus not only meets us where we are… he showers us with blessings.    He gives us citizenship in the kingdom and makes us rulers over the earth.  How do we respond to such great mercy?

Jesus’ answer…you extend it to others :

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:7-10 TNIV)

Our bent is to do the opposite.  Because we are heirs to a kingdom and filled with righteousness our temptation is to look down on everyone else, we try to put OUR righteousness on display.   The merciful servant puts HIS righteousness on display.  The first four blessings deal with conditions or how God meets us,  the second four deal with how we meet others, with mercy, a pure heart, extending shalom, and enduring persecution.

Study Notes

Pure in Heart:

1.  The Jews understood purity as an external ritual through written and oral law

2.   The enemy of a pure heart is not impurity but hypocracy (internal vs external)

3.  The measure of a pure heart is not what stays in but what flows out.

Jewish purification:

The Hebrew Bible has many rituals of purification relating to menstruation, childbirth, sexual relations, keri (nocturnal emission), unusual bodily fluids, skin disease, death, and animal sacrifices. Modern mainstream Judaism is based on a combination of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish oral law, which includes the Mishnah and Gemarrah (together comprising the Talmud) in addition to other rabbinic commentaries; this oral law further specifies regulations for ritual purity, including obligations relating to excretory functions, meals, and waking. The regulations of biblical and oral law generally prescribe a form of water-based ritual washing in Judaism for removal of any ritual impurity, sometimes requiring just washing of the hands, and at other times requiring full immersion; the oral law requires the use of living water for any ritual full immersion – either a natural river/stream/spring, or a special bath (a Mikvah) which is directly connected to one. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual_purification

Read Luke 11:37-52

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean [same Greek word used in Mt 5:8 for pure] the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish [j] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. (Luke 11:39 TNIV)

Illustration:  marriage.  Contrast acting like husband and wife with a deeply committed heart.

Other teachings of Jesus on an impure Heart Mark 7:18, Matthew 23:25-26, Luke 11:39 Luke 18

“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?  For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ” Mark7:18-23 TNIV

Augustine– the battle for a pure heart is not against impurity but hypocrisy.   “Only he who has shrugged off human praise and in his life is concerned just to please God.”  Not living your life on the outside.

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