We start our reading with the beginning of Jesus’ inaugural address, the sermon on the mount. The whole of it is found in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7. Everything else Jesus teaches His disciples will find its genesis in this sermon. Additionally, in everything Jesus says and does He does with rabbinic intent and instruction. He is always pointing back to the Text (the OT scriptures). These teachings on what it means to be a disciple are no different. When we answer the call to discipleship, we enter a kingdom that turns human expectations of blessedness upside down. Jesus is teaching His disciples (us) to live differently, to live counter-culturally. Rather than kings and conquerors, expect to be aliens and strangers. Rather than pursue a political agenda, you’re going to pursue a spiritual one. Rather than a kingdom established through the conquest of its ruler - expect a kingdom established through the character of its servants. This wasn’t at all what they were expecting to hear. Additionally, Jesus told parables to underscore this counterintuitive kingdom calling. The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven are two examples. Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a mustard seed - the tiniest of seeds. As Westerners, we look at the size of the seed, as Middle Easterners, they focus on what the seed does. That tiny seed was highly invasive and impossible to uproot. You can not stop the spread of the mustard plant in the garden. Jesus is saying, be a mustard seed - be unstoppable in the spread of the gospel. Nor can you stop the spread of yeast in the dough. Be invasive, unstoppable, and impossible to uproot! Our purpose, as disciples, is to put hearts, heads, hands, and feet to the gospel, to the teachings of Jesus, and encourage others to do the same. It won’t be accomplished by sword or success, by pride or prestige. It will be accomplished through humility, peace, empathy, and perseverance. Just as Jesus intended.
Jesus, give me ears to hear Your words as you spoke them on that hill so many centuries ago.
Help me to live out Your teaching in my generation. Help me to disciple others to do the same - as You instructed.