In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduces us to the idea of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the same thing that He means when He says the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of Matthew, where we find the Sermon on the Mount, was written primarily to a Jewish audience. Many scholars and theologians believe that Matthew used the “Kingdom of Heaven” phrase to show sensitivity towards the Jews, who so revered the name of God that they found it disrespectful to write it. With this in mind, it is important that we try to understand what Jesus was talking about. What is the Kingdom?
A simple way to define the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, is that it’s the rule and reign of God in the lives of His people. Jesus came on the scene of human history during a time of kingdoms and empires. The Jewish people were under the brutal rule of Rome. They longed for a leader, a messiah, to come and reverse this horrible situation. They wanted a conquering warrior-king to be the messiah. What they didn’t understand was Jesus absolutely was a conquering warrior. He would ultimately conquer sin and death. The victory would be the greatest of all time, and would have eternal significance. His rightful Kingdom, however, would uniquely be in people brought from death to life by His power.
Jesus teaches us in His great sermon what it looks like to live out His Kingdom. All true followers of Jesus will more and more orient their lives to His Kingdom. It was all quite confusing to the Pharisees, Herod, and Pontius Pilate to hear this country carpenter from tiny Nazareth speak of His Kingdom. There was no visible palace or throne. They didn’t understand that Jesus’ Kingdom was being established in the heart of every person who truly believed in Him.
To live the Sermon on the Mount lifestyle is to turn your life to the direction of the Kingdom. In this life, we must choose what Kingdom we will build. We make small and large decisions every day that reveal which one we’re building. In Matthew 5-7, Jesus gives us the speech of eternity as He shows what a Kingdom oriented life looks like. May we all by His power choose the right one.