Friday, February 1, 2008
For Sunday, February 3 - The Ways of the Kingdom
Matthew 5; Isaiah 53
On the surface, these two passages don't have a lot to do with each other. But I consider it a spiritual gift to be able to bend and twist disparate passages and ideas into something that will preach as one - or maybye it's heresy, who knows?
Matthew 5, what we normally call "The Sermon on the Mount" is Jesus' inaugural speech about the Kingdom of God/Heaven that he brings. Most believers, even non-Christians, stand in awe of Jesus' words here. Though he re-states many of the ideas of the prophets and sages of Jewish Old Testament history, he does so with perfect clarity, simplicity and beauty. One can't help but read through the Sermon and simply think, "Yes, if only the world and people were like this..."
Which is exactly the problem. It isn't and we aren't. Instead we find that, at our best, we consider Jesus' words impossible ideals. But we don't really think there's any way things can be as he describes.
Here's a thought: What if he really meant what he said? On both the individual level (inner me stuff), and on the social level of how we treat each other - and (gasp) - how tribes and nations treat each other? What would it mean to turn the other cheek and bless those who persecute us? How do we possibly do that? If we get ticked off when someone cuts us off in traffic, who we don't even know, then how do we ever forgive someone who has injured our soul? And yet here we are with these words about a very different kingdom.
That's where I think Isaiah 53, the passage of the Suffering Servant comes in. I don't know how far I'll get towards tying all of this together in the sermon - maybe it will be more than one. We'll see...