Apostle and disciple Matthew paints a beautiful picture at the beginning of chapter five of his personal memories of Yahshua. As usual, crowds of people were beginning to gather around, so Yahshua went up on a mountainside and settled Himself down to teach them. Where was this mountain? Beside the Lake, maybe? My imagination gives me the green of the grass, the blue of the sky, the warmth of the sun, and the rise and fall of an authoritative voice teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew has gathered it all together for us, packing it into chapters five, six and seven. Here Yahshua depicts a quality of life that is altogether superior to anything we can imagine, something which is beyond the natural capacity of humanity, and yet He urges us to move into it. The sermon is, in fact, Yahshua’s own trustworthy interpretation of Yahweh’s Law.
The first twelve verses of chapter five have become known as the Beatitudes, and they are the essence of the sermon. They describe a perfect state of blessedness which may be experienced, here on earth, by those who follow Yahshua. They don’t describe natural tendencies or qualities, but as they unfold we see an awe-inspiring picture of a life of moral and inner bliss that is both challenging and desirable. “…there is a poignant and exquisite sense of continuity in these sayings” writes John Metcalfe, “carrying the soul step by step through the spiritual portals of the kingdom.”
The Kingdom of Heaven is certainly a place, but it is also an inner state of being. “…the kingdom of [heaven] is within you…” cried Yahshua, during another sermon [Luke 17:21, italics mine]. I believe that it’s possible, in this life, to move forward into such a state of inner, spiritual blessedness that we enjoy the kingdom of heaven now, within, as an amazing foretaste of eternal bliss. I encourage you to take another look at the beatitudes and see how they describe a progressive rate of spiritual growth as we reach out to know more of Yahweh. “All believers” declares Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “are meant to manifest all of these characteristics.”