A Jesus follower is different inside. Farai Mbirimi looks at four marks of a disciple in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: this is where the Christian life starts.
Different Inside: Topics & Timestamps
00:00 – Called To Be Different Inside
01:08 – What Is Unique About You?
02:16 – Summary: The Sermon On The Mount
03:30 – The Context of Jesus’s Sermon
06:35 – Jesus’s Radical Message
08:45 – What Do We Mean by Blessed?
09:40 – Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
12:50 – This Is The Christian’s Starting Point
14:43 – Theirs Will Be The Kingdom of Heaven
16:13 – Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
20:14 – For They Will Be Comforted
23:04 – Blessed Are The Meek
23:18 – The Meaning of Meekness
26:35 – They Will Inherit The Earth
27:23 – Blessed Are Those Who Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness
29:12 – They Will Be Filled
30:40 – What If I’m Missing These Marks?
33:00 – Different Inside: He Is Making Us New In Him
“Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty? What kind of a kingdom is this!?”
“Jesus says you are a blessed person when you recognise who you are and who God is.”
“The true follower of Jesus falls on their knees and asks him, “Would you help me?”
More TGC Africa Content On This Topic
Text: Matthew 5:1-6
Date Preached: 21 February 2021
Location: C4 Cross Centered Community Church, Bryanston, South Africa
#Different #JesusFollower #Beatitudes
Good morning C4! Can I just tell you that this morning we’re starting a brand new series called ‘Different’. It’s a series based in Matthew 5, Matthew 6 and Matthew 7, which is known as the sermon on the mount – the most famous sermon preached by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Called To Be Different
So here’s my desire: my prayer for us as individuals and as a church, is that we will be different as Jesus calls us to be different. Jesus really wants you and I to be transformed and changed and live different lives from the lives that everybody lives in our communities and in our society. And so this series is going to stretch our love for him, it’s going to stretch our obedience, and stretch our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.
You are going to grow. You’re gonna grow if you listen and take seriously the things that Jesus has to say in the Sermon on the Mount.
What Is Unique About You?
So, as we get into our brand new series, let me set things up for us this way. I want you to think about this. For the next five seconds I want you to take some time out and think about this. Are you ready? Here’s the question: what do you think marks you out as different? What makes you different? What are the things that make you different from everybody else around you? And if you are a marketing person, maybe you would like to use this phrase: what is your USP – your unique selling point?
What is it that sets you apart? What is it about you that sets you apart from everybody else around you?
Jesus says those who follow him ought to be different from everybody else around them.
Now I want you to think about that. And as you think about that let me remind you that in this series that we are going into Jesus says those who follow him – those who are his disciples – ought to be different from everybody else around them.
So what is it that you think makes you different? And when Jesus calls us to be different, it’s not an optional extra other – for the most spiritual – those are the ones who ought to be different. He says all who say they follow him, those who call themselves his disciples, he is saying, “You need to be different.”
A Summary of The Sermon On The Mount
So in this section, called the sermon on the mount, the summary statement; the summary words that Jesus gives us about him in Matthew 6-8, the summary of what Jesus is preaching, is found in Matthew 6:8. And listen to what Jesus is trying to put across here for those who are listening to him. He says, “Do not be like them.”
So, if you are not going to be like them, says Jesus, you ought to be different. For those who are followers of Jesus you ought to be different.
So I just simply love the spot the difference pictures. You know those pictures? They give you two pictures that look identical, but they are not quite identical, and they invite you to say can you spot the difference. I simply love those! Sometimes it takes me longer, sometimes I can spot the difference quite quickly.
Here’s what Jesus is saying: as a follower, as a disciple, what is it that makes you different? Can you spot the difference for yourself? Can other people spot the difference within you when they look at you? What is it that makes you different?
What’s The Context of Jesus’s Sermon?
So this morning let’s just have a look at the context. Why is Jesus teaching and preaching this sermon to his disciples and those who are around him? What has happened? So here’s the context. It’s found in Matthew 4:23-25. And in those verses we are told that Jesus has been preaching and teaching. He has been doing all sorts of miracles. He has been healing all sorts of sicknesses and diseases, and lots of people are following him. The crowds are following him. He has become famous.
The word about Jesus is spreading, and people are coming in large numbers.
And friends, don’t forget, this is the days before Facebook, these are the days before WhatsApp, these are days before Twitter. These are days before newspapers and news channels. And yet we are told, even in these days, that the word about Jesus is spreading, and people are coming in large numbers to listen to him.
Jesus Is Becoming Famous
Listen to this in Matthew 4:25. “Large crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan”. This is good news! This is great PR for Jesus one would say! The crowds love him, the media love him, crowd are celebrating him! They are welcoming him, they rejoice – wherever it is that he goes – there is only praise awaiting him.
So what will he do next?
Here’s the thing that you and I need to remember. Jesus is calling people to come into a kingdom to come and join into this kingdom that he’s teaching. Listen to this, in Matthew 4:23: “Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every sickness among the people”.
So he’s calling people to some sort of kingdom. And now the crowds are coming.
So What Next?
What do you think he ought to do next? What do you think he ought to say next as he’s growing in popularity – as he’s becoming a celebrity preacher. What do you think Jesus out to say?
Well, if it was up to me I would say, “Jesus, keep doing miracles. Keep doing these healings. Keep doing these supernatural things. So that the crowds will grow bigger and bigger. And while you are teaching them, tell them things that will keep them coming. Tell them things that they want to hear”.
Is that what Jesus will do?
Well Jesus when he sees the crowds did this. Notice there in Matthew 5:1-2: “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them”.
Jesus is into disciples: those who sit at his feet and learn from him.
So Jesus is not in the crowds is he? Clearly from Matthew 5:1-2, Jesus is not into the crowds. Jesus would not have people follow him because they want to see something or want to hear a certain type of message. Jesus is into disciples: those who sit at his feet and learn from him. Jesus is about commitment: those who put their faith and trust in him.
Jesus’s Radical Message
And he says, “If that is you, I want to tell you what makes you different, because you ought to be different from everybody else. I want to tell you the marks of the true Jesus follower. I want to tell you the marks of the true disciple, the one who enters into the kingdom that he is preaching.”
And so he says eight totally shocking things. Eight radically different things. He says what you and I have come to know as the beatitudes. He says eight things that are counter-culture, eight things that are very radically different from how people around us would live. And he says, “These are the marks of the true disciple; a true Jesus follower.
Isn’t This a Bad Growth Strategy?
So listen, we are going to be looking at the first four this morning, and then the second four next Sunday.
So listen to the first four things he says (Matthew 5:3-6): He says “Blessed are the poor”, “Blessed are those who mourn”, “Blessed are the meek”, and then he says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst”.
Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty? What kind of a kingdom is this!?
Who in their right mind, who wants to build a kingdom, who wants to continue building a crowd of followers, would say such things? This is a bad growth strategy! Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, those who are the meek, those who are hungry and thirsty? What kind of a kingdom is this?
And so this morning I want to look at these first four things, the first four marks of a disciple. And they are totally mind-blowing because you and I don’t live like this. We don’t actually see any of these things as being blessed in our culture.
So lets have a look at the first one, I hope that you’re there with me. Matthew 5:3-6.
So the first thing, the first mark of a Jesus-follower or disciple is? Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. So, we need to sit and define what the word ‘blessed’ actually means.
What Do We Mean by Blessed?
The word blessed can mean happy. The truly happy person, says Jesus, is one who comes to a realisation. The truly happy person has come to a realisation that spiritually, before a holy God, a God who’s created and given me life, a God who had a plan and a purpose for my life, I am spiritually poor. I am bankrupt before that God who is holy, pure and perfect.
The word blessed can mean happy or approved by God.
The word blessed can also mean approved by God.
Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
So, Jesus says the person – the man the woman – who is approved by God – because that’s what my heart is looking for: somewhere where I can be approved where I’m accepted. Jesus says, “Listen. What your heart is looking for is approval from God. The happiness that you are looking for in your life is when you come to realise that before God, your attitude, your focus, is one of being poor in spirit. That you have nothing, nothing within you spiritually, that will commend you before God. Nothing within you that will bring about God’s grace and mercy as you are. Nothing within you that draws the favour of God. You are spiritually bankrupt before God.”
We have said no to God and yes to ourselves.
And those who come to realise that: those who know that they can’t perform, those who know their words and thoughts and deeds are only against God and contrary to God – they go against the word of God and the plans and purposes and wishes of God. Those who come to that place, Jesus says, those are the truly happy people. Those are the ones who are approved by God.
A perfect God, let’s not forget that, that God is perfect, that he’s holy and that he demands perfection and holiness from you and I. He created us to live for him and to live by him. And what have we done? We have said no to God and yes to ourselves. We have said, “We know better. Thank you Lord for all the gifts that you give. Thank you for all the blessings that you give me, but I am going to take all these good things that you have given and I’m going to own them, and I’m going to use them to my own advantage”. And when you do that my dear friends, the Bible calls it sin and transgression and wickedness in God’s eyes.
So the person who is approved by God comes to realise their condition before God, that I am spiritually bankrupt, that I am a beggar, I have nothing to offer before a holy God: I have nothing to show.
Who Is Blessed In Our Culture?
But C4, this morning, listen to this. What would Jozi, how would Jozi describe the blessed man and the blessed woman? Because we all want to be blessed! We all want to be happy, we all want to be approved. What does Jozi say a blessed man looks like?
We would say blessed are the rich.
We would say blessed are the rich – materially rich; rich financially – for they will enjoy every good thing. They will enjoy the good life. They will be happy, they will be approved, because they are rich.
But notice what Jesus says: he says the truly happy man, the truly happy woman, has come to a place where they realise that they are spiritually bankrupt. They go to the spiritual ATM, they put in their card, they punch in the pin and it says on the screen: “Insufficient funds”. Perhaps that’s what will happen to you if you go to your bank right now to try and withdraw some money. It will say “Insufficient funds”. You are bankrupt; you are poor in the eyes of God spiritually. You cannot get approval from God the way things stand.
This Is The Christian’s Starting Point
And so because I know who I am and what my condition is, I cry before God. It brings me to my knees, it brings me before God and I say “Lord, won’t you do something that I cannot do for myself?” And so the truly blessed person, approved by God, comes to a point where they say, “Lord, you need to do this for me. You need to change this situation, to change my circumstances my standing before you. You need to take away the wrath and the judgement that I deserve because I turned my back against you and rebelled against you”.
We have to start where Jesus says we need to start.
So notice what Jesus doesn’t say. When this first disciple… in this first beatitude, Jesus doesn’t say blessed are the spiritual. He doesn’t say blessed are the prayerful, blessed are those who go to church, blessed are those who read their Bibles and pray every day. Although those things are great he says that’s not where you start.
My dear friends, we have to start where Jesus says we need to start. And if you look at the four things we’re going to be looking at, there are… there’s something that needs to take place internally; there’s something that needs to take place deep inside of us; there’s a change – a transformation – that needs to take place. And it begins when you and I recognise, when you and I come to a point of realisation, that I am poor in spirit before God. That I am poor in his eyes. That I do not qualify. I have no standing in the presence of the Holy God.
There Is a Promise!
Because here’s the reality my dear friends, my sin only invites judgement from God. And so I am bankrupt before him; I’m a spiritual beggar before him and I need him to do something for me in anything is going to change. And so once I realise that notice what Jesus says: there’s a promise! There’s a promise that says, “theirs will be the kingdom of heaven.”
God called you and he gives you life, he has a plan and purpose for you, so that you will be in his kingdom.
My dear friends, can I just remind us this morning that we were created for the kingdom of God. God called you and he gives you life, he has a plan and purpose for you, so that you will be in his kingdom; you will live under his rulership with him as God, who speaks and tells us how we ought to live. And that’s what our hearts are truly longing for. When we’re in this kingdom we are approved of God, we are accepted by God, acceptable before him. And we begin to live the life that he’s called us to live, which is a happy life under his rulership.
But if we are honest, you and I know that we’re not the men and women God called us to be. Something went wrong within us and something continues to go wrong with us. And so, have we come to a point where we realise that we’re poor, that we’re destitute, that we’re spiritual beggars before the Holy God.
Because if I’m going to find true happiness, if I’m going to find true approval, I have to begin there where I know my condition before God and beg him to do something that only he can do to change that situation.
So that’s the first thing. The first mark of a true disciple is poverty of spirit.
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
And then the second thing that Jesus speaks about is in Matthew 5:4. He says: “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted”. I think it’s the next natural step – don’t you think? When I recognise that I am poor in spirit, that I am in spiritual bankruptcy before God, and God has done something for me, it leads me to mourning.
So is Jesus saying, blessed are those that are constantly crying? Constantly having tears in their eyes? My dear friends, Jesus is pointing to something bigger than this. Because if it’s just tears, then you will do well just to cut up and onion for a while because that will fill you with tears!
That’s what the word mourn means – to be filled with regret.
But Jesus is pointing to an attitude of the heart. He’s pointing to an attitude of my life! Where I realise that I’ve sinned against God. And not only have I sinned against God, I continually sin against God. And so I am filled with remorse, I’m filled with regret. That’s what the word mourn means – to be filled with regret, to be filled with sorrow – because of my thoughts, and my words, and my deeds, that are always going against God.
I Mourn My Sin
In Genesis 6 God says, when he looks at the human race he says: “I am displeased because their hearts are always inclined towards evil”. Now my dear friends, my heart always wants to go against God. And so I am filled with sorrow: “Lord I’ve blown it! I’ve done that thing again! Lord I have said something that displeases you again!” And so I am filled with regret. I am filled with sorrow by the things that I do, the things that I think about, the things that I entertain.
I Mourn The Effects of Sin In The World
But not only that, I’m also filled with sorrow over the effects of my sin in this world. Because not only do I sin against God, I sin against other people, I sin against my society, I am a broken man! And I cause others to be broken around me.
So friends, can I ask this morning, when was the last time that you and I mourned because of our sin? Sometimes we don’t mourn for our sin because we are satisfied in our sin! Not so? Because the Bible actually does say that sin is pleasurable, but for a season. But we need godly sorrow.
The really blessed person, comes with an attitude of confession and repentance before God.
The person who recognises that and falls before God and says, “I am poor in spirit”, now lives a life of regret and sorrow and brokenness before God, because I continue to do the things that displease God. So the real follower, the real blessed person, the truly approved of God, is a person that comes – watch this church – with an attitude of confession and repentance before God.
A great theologian said once, “Confession and repentance must never cease in the life of a disciple”. Can I just say that for us again? “Confession and repentance must never cease in the life of a disciple”. That’s what it means to mourn before God. I am constantly asking him, “Please would you change me? Please would you wash me and cleanse me of my sin? I have blown it again; I’ve done that thing again”.
You and I know this! That we go our own way very easily. Our hearts are easily turned towards wickedness and sin and away from God. So what do we need says Jesus? We need a heart that mourns before God. We need an attitude of brokenness before God, and asking God to do something within us – deep within us – a transformation and a change that only he can do.
For They Will Be Comforted
And notice what Jesus says there, there’s a promise again: “For they will be comforted”. And what does he mean by being comforted? Well it’s in two ways, isn’t it.
There will come a day where I will be perfect in the eyes of God for eternity.
Number one, we will be comforted in knowing that Jesus will come back again and he’s going to take us to a place where there is no sorrow. A place where I will be able not to sin. I look forward to the day when I will be perfect! Where I will stand before God blameless, because my thoughts, my words and my actions will be blameless before a Holy God. I’m looking forward to that day when Jesus will call me home to the place of perfection. And that comforts me right now. That though I fail, there will come a day where I will be perfect in the eyes of God for eternity.
Now the second comfort is knowing that even though as I fail, Jesus in the gospel of Matthew will end with him on the cross. With him crying out before the holy father and saying, “Tetelestai!” It is finished. Where he pays for my sin, where he begins this work of transformation and change within us. That someone else will stand in my place to win the forgiveness and the grace and the love of God: that which my heart is looking for.
We Long To Be Done With Brokenness
My dear friends, isn’t this what our hearts are looking for? To be done with brokenness, to be done with living lives where we know we are doing wrong and are displeasing before God, in our thoughts, words and actions. Isn’t that what our hearts are looking for?
Well the blessed person says Jesus has come to understand that. And they mourn before God and they are looking forward to the day when we put this body of sin to one side, and we will be the men and women that God has called us to be.
And so Jesus says that’s the mark – that is the mark of the blessed person. That you and I now, in our culture, would say blessed are those who are happy all the time: those who are H-A-P-P-Y all the time, who have no regrets. Blessed are those who live their lives doing as they please, when they please, and how they please, and they never look back with any regrets.
But the truly blessed person, says Jesus, has come to realise their sin, and they realise their brokenness compared to a Holy God and what he has created us and called us to be.
Blessed Are The Meek
And then, my dear friends, notice the third thing that Jesus speaks about: the third mark of a Jesus follower. He says that, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”.
Now, I used to have a friend who said “meekness equals weakness”. “Meekness equals weakness”. Our culture would say, blessed are the pushy! For they will have everything they want. Blessed are the pushy! For they will have everything they want. So, we need to stop and ask, “What does the word meek actually mean?”
The Meaning of Meekness
So the word meek has got to do with humility. So watch this my dear friends. Once I see that I’m poor in spirit, that I need God to do something – and only God can do this to rescue me and save me from my situation, once I see the effects of my sin and mourn and regret my sin before God, I now humble myself before him. I now come to a place where I recognise that there is a God in heaven, as the Psalmist says, who sits in heaven and he does as he pleases. That the earth belongs to him and everything belongs to him. Where I’m not filled with my own pride, where I don’t drink my own cool-aid and tell myself that I am wonderful, that I’m great, that I’m the master of my own destiny! But now I come to see that before a great big mighty God, I am in trouble. That I am indebted towards him and I’m a rebel in his sight.
I am humble before God, and I am humble before people.
And so I humble myself. I humble myself before him. And I go before him asking for his kindness, asking for his goodness. And I go before him looking towards him for provision and love and care. I go before him as a child goes before their father. And I recognise that only he – and only he alone – can fulfil and satisfy my life. Because he knows. He has a plan and purpose for my life.
So I am meek before him. And that meekness begins to overflow in my life. And so I don’t treat people out of pride. I don’t push my own agenda. I don’t throw my weight around as we would say. And I don’t throw names – I don’t do name throwing to get ahead. But I am humble before God, and I am humble before people.
And Jesus says, “Blessed”, approved of God, are those who have come to that place where they are humble before God and know their place before God and are looking to him and live a life of humility – wherever it is that he has place them.
My dear friends, this is not how Joburg operates! This is not how your office operates! Because we say if you show any signs of weakness, if you show any signs of humility, then people are gonna push you around. Because here’s the motto of our day: people are only here for me to use as I go about my daily life and achieve the things that I’ve set my heart on.
They Will Inherit The Earth
But Jesus says this: blessed are those who know who they are – who know their fallen spirit, who know the brokenness of their hearts they know what God has done for them. Do you notice there’s a promise there? Ones who come to that place, well, they will inherit the earth.
What am I trying to inherit when I’m pushing? What am I trying to inherit when I step over other people when I use my pride? What am I trying to inherit when I’m trying to make a name for myself? I’m trying to get a whole lot of stuff for myself and building a life according to me.
Jesus says you are a blessed person when you recognise who you are and who God is.
But what my heart is actually looking for God gives me! “They will inherit the earth”. They will inherit everything. God will give to them everything, because he is God who is faithful to do such an amazing thing. So that’s what my heart is after. And Jesus says you are a blessed person when you recognise who you are and who God is.
Blessed Are Those Who Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness
And then the last thing that comes out of the passage this morning is in Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”.
So watch this church. Once I come to a point where I know that I’m poor in spirit, I’m destitute, once I begin to mourn and regret the things that I choose over God and the lifestyle that I choose over God, once I begin to humble myself before God, Jesus says, you have a new hunger and thirst. You have a new appetite, says Jesus. And it’s now for righteousness.
What Are You Hungry For?
So can I just stop and ask you church, what are you hungering for? What are you thirsting for? Because here’s what I know, whatever it is that makes me hungry, whatever it is that makes me thirsty, is the thing that’s gonna drive my life.
Whatever it is that makes me hungry, or thirsty, is the thing that’s gonna drive my life.
I’m gonna give my time, my effort, my energy, I’m gonna give all my money, my resources, to finding the thing that’ll quench my hunger and my thirst.
So what are you hungry for? And Jesus says the blessed man, the blessed woman, is hungering for righteousness. And what does he mean by that? Being right before God. Living a life that pleases God. Living a life of obedience before God. Living a life where God draws pleasure and joy – where I give glory and honour to him as I obediently live my life before him.
They Will Be Filled
And he says the blessed man, the approved man or woman has a new appetite. And so I’ll give my energy, my time, my resources, my everything – the best years of my life – to living the righteous live; the right life before God.
And notice what Jesus promises there: “They will be filled”. Can you imagine that? Just as you and I get hungry – some of you might be hungry right now, or thirsty – and when you do eat something you get filled. Jesus says the same is true when you hunger and thirst for righteousness. You will be filled. You will be satisfied.
We can only be satisfied and filled as we live the right way before God.
But we think we know what it means to get satisfied on our own. We think more of this: more pleasure, more money, more power, more authority, more recognition, more stuff, will make me satisfied. But you know the story don’t you? You know how it ends. As soon as you get that thing, you have a new hunger for something else.
We will never be satisfied by the things of this world. We are not created to find satisfaction and fulfilment in these things. We can only be satisfied and filled as we live the right way before God – under his rulership, under his word, and following him.
My friends that’s what our hearts are looking for. If that’s what your heart is looking for this morning then Jesus says you are a blessed person – you are a happy person – when you have come to realise that what I need is to be right with God my creator.
What If I’m Missing These Marks?
And as you listen to all four of these things and you say to yourself, “Listen, I might not be a Christian because I miss all these four marks, when it comes to being poor in spirit, when it comes to mourning and being sorrowful, when it comes to being humble before God and hungering and thirsting for righteousness, I am missing the mark”. Listen, that’s exactly where Jesus wants you to be. You are in the right place!
Because you notice all the promises: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, “For they will be comforted”, “For they will inherit the earth”, “For they will be filled”, somebody else is doing this for you.
The true follower of Jesus falls on their knees and asks him, “Would you help me?”
You are not doing it on your own and by yourself. So Jesus bring us and says the true disciple, the true follower of Jesus is going to fall on their knees before God and before Jesus and say, “Would you help me? Because only you can help me”.
Comfort In This Holy God
So to be a follower means to be at the feet of Jesus, trusting of him, laying down my life and living my life to him, to follow him. And asking him to do this transformational work; to bring about this change from deep within, that only he can.
Because if you are gonna try and go out and live these things out, these holy attitudes, you will fail. But God is going about this work in us.
And if you are not a Jesus follower this morning then this is what Jesus is saying to you: but are you not tired? Did you not come to the end of yourself when you’ve seen that before God you are poor, you cannot perform, you cannot stand before God based on your own actions and your own efforts?
Have you not come to a place where you regret? I’m sure you do – the things that you do and say – that you regret? And Jesus says the comfort you are looking for is found when you come before this holy God. Are you not tired of pretending to be filled with pride? Thinking that you’ve got all things in place? Are you not tired of pretending? Well today is the day because what you are looking for, God will give. You will inherit the earth.
And the things that you are hungering and thirsting for have they really brought you satisfaction? Because Jesus says you will be filled when you thirst and hunger for righteousness that only he can give.
He Is Making Us New In Him
So my dear friends, those who are Jesus followers – the true disciple is different, because our attitude before God is different. We need him to do the supernatural work of changing us, cleansing us and making us new in him.
And that’s why Jesus has come. And that is the call that he is presenting before us. The question is, will we go to him?
So why don’t you bow your head and let’s pray together.