The Lucky Ones
We may have our own ideas about who the lucky ones are in this world. The people other people want to be: the rich, beautiful, famous and super-talented maybe? Jesus paints a picture of what the people are like who rock in his world. It’s very different. It’s beautiful. It’s what we’ll become like if we keep hanging out with him.
A whole bunch of people have trekked from all over to see the amazing things Jesus is doing and to hear the almost unbelievable things he’s talking about. Jesus gets them all together and tells them something that will rock their worlds – and ours … He describes the people who ‘win’ in his world. It’s like he puts up some Roll of Honour boards but the categories are completely different to anything you’ll see in your school hall. It’s not a list that would make sense in the normal world. But Jesus calls these people ‘blessed’. That word blessed means something like ‘happy’ or ‘in sync with the way things really are’. Or …
‘you’re the ones who rock in my world!
Are these people the rich or the super-talented – the ones with millions of followers on their YouTube channel? Or maybe the super-holy, you know, the perfect people who never seem to do anything wrong? Well , they could be … but so could you and me and people who look pretty average on the outside.
In this session we look at four of the things Jesus describes (we don’t have space in this series to get to them all). You’ll find that at the end of these notes.
Here are some thoughts on the things Jesus describes in general:
1. When Jesus lists the various characteristics he’s not talking about different kinds of people who maybe have that one things going for them. Jesus is talking about ONE person who has ALL of those things growing in them. Wow …
2. The things Jesus describes don’t come naturally to any of us (in our sinful state). The only way these things can become part of who we are is if they grow in us – just like the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5v 22-23). If we hang out with Jesus and do what he said right at the beginning: believe that God’s Kingdom is near and repent – change our way of thinking and acting, we’ll begin to see these things more in our lives.
3. The third thing follows on from the second – we can’t make ourselves become more like the people Jesus describes here. We have to let God work in us.
In the Beatitudes Jesus talks about eight characteristics of people who rock in His world. Here are some thoughts on four of them
Blessed are the poor in spirit….
Have you ever felt that, as much as you want to, you are hopelessly unable to live the kind of life that would actually have a chance of pleasing God? Ever felt that no matter how hard you try you suck at being a good Christian? Yes? Well congratulations! You rock in Jesus’ world! Cos that’s what being poor in spirit is about.
‘You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.’ (The Message)
The funny thing is – the more people grow close to God, the more they realise how sinful and desperately in need of God’s mercy and grace they are. They become ‘poorer in spirit’ – and that’s the place God can begin to work in them. People who reckon they’re doing pretty well and have things nicely sorted with God … yeah not so much. But the broken-hearted and those who realise they are absolutely dependent on God’s mercy and grace. You’re the winner … the Kingdom of heaven belongs to people like you.
Blessed are those who mourn …
Ok, so mourning isn’t something we usually want to spend a lot of time doing. But here’s what happens as Jesus draws us into his way of life: we begin to see what real Life could be like, our eyes start to focus on an amazing new vision of what happens when things go the way God wants them to. And then, when we see the world as it is now – our broken, messed up world, and our broken, messed-up lives – we get upset that things are so wrong. We feel sad, or even angry. We don’t like it and we want to do something about it.
That’s mourning. Jesus said people who mourn like that rock in his world, they are the lucky ones – because they will be comforted. The word ‘comforted’ actually means ‘filled with strength’ (from the Latin cum (with) forte (strength) ). The Holy Spirit comes alongside you and fills you with strength so that you can hang in there while we wait for God to make all things new. Pretty awesome hey?
Blessed are the meek …
This would be an awkward one if the word ‘meek’ here meant someone who’s a bit like Dobby from Harry Potter – you, know … weak and submissive, always being trampled on like a doormat. It’s not like that at all … There are only two people in the Bible who are described as ‘meek’: Moses and Jesus. If you know their stories you’ll know they are as un-Dobby like as it’s possible to be. In the Bible people who are ‘meek’ are those who have learned not to rely on their own strength and abilities but rather to lean on God and trust God to help them.
Psalm 37 describes perfectly what a ‘meek’ person is like:
Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
The ‘meek’ are invincible because they have learned to trust and rely on the One who truly is invincible. People who are ‘meek’ don’t rely on fighting and pushing other people around to get what they want because they know God has good things in store for them. ‘Meek’ people don’t retaliate or become obsessed with getting even because they know God will take care of that. The ‘meek’ are like an eagle that sits on a branch high up, expectant and waiting for the right moment to launch itself and go soaring in the thermals, carried along on God’s strength. Jesus promises that that those who become ‘meek’ and learn to rely on Jesus will inherit the earth because Jesus himself will inherit the earth. You get to share in Jesus’ inheritance – which is pretty much everything God owns, which is pretty much everything …
Blessed are the pure in heart …
Of all the characteristics of the people who rock in Jesus’ Kingdom this one – being pure in heart – is probably the one most likely to undo us. Who is pure in heart? Anyone who takes an honest look inside themselves – into their hearts – will have to admit that there’s a lot of ‘impure’ stuff going on, right? Even Paul the Apostle, after many years of doing amazing things for God said this about himself: ‘
‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.’ (1 Timothy 1v16)
A key thing to remember is that in this passage Jesus isn’t talking about different kinds of people who each have one of these qualities. Jesus is talking about someone who has ALL of these things going for them. So someone who is ‘pure in heart’ is also someone who is ‘poor in spirit’, they mourn because of the mess they see in their lives, they rely on God and not themselves, they hunger for right-relatedness. The ‘pure in heart’ know that they are not perfect. In Psalm 24 David asks this:
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
Purity of heart, in this Psalm, is about loyalty to God, it’s about being single-minded in one’s pursuit of God, not trusting anything or anyone else as much as they trust God. A guy called John Stott said that the ‘pure in heart’ are those who are transparent before God, they can’t hide anything from God. The pure in heart know they can be too easily tricked into thinking that they’re doing just fine, so they open up their hearts for God to see.
We all tend to hide our dark things away from the light. We become pure in heart when we allow the integrity and transparency of life in God’s Kingdom to invade our lives. We grow in purity of heart when we simply want Jesus to be around more in our lives – no matter how aware we are of our sin or how badly we might thing we’re doing. The pure in heart are the ones who pray this prayer from Psalm 139 v24:
‘Search me and know my heart Jesus, see if there’s anything wrong in me and show me the way to live a life that brings me true Life’
The pure in heart pray this prayer too from Psalm 51:
‘Create in me a pure heart God! And renew a right spirit in me’
So that was a brief look at four of the characteristics that Jesus says people in his Kingdom will see growing in their lives. It’s important to remember that no-one is naturally good at ANY of these things! So what do we have to do to get onto this list? Work harder at being poor in spirit or upset at what we see around us? No! We simply need to let the Holy Spirit continue to shape us on the inside.
‘Repent and believe the good news!’ Jesus said. That’s still the invitation. Stop trusting and chasing after ways of living that keep God to the sidelines. Believe that Jesus is near, listen to what he says and then go do it … Jesus’ promise is that soon we’ll find ourselves being blessed in surprising ways and that we’ll start to become the people who really are the winners in his Kingdom.
In this tab you’ll find ideas and questions to help you lead your group through an interactive, story-based journey. Read our leaders guide to explore how to get the most out of these four parts.
What’s your story?
Who are the people other people want to be?
Does your school have those honour boards on display somewhere? You know, the ones with the names of students who’ve done really well at sport or academics or whatever? If it does, what categories are on those boards? What does that say about the things your school thinks are important?
Do you fit into those categories or are you good at something your school doesn’t celebrate so much?
And outside of school, who are the lucky ones – the people you’d love to trade places with? Who are the people who seem to succeed and win at everything? What makes them special? How do you compare against them?
From The Wordspace
Get your group to re-read one or more of the WordSpace posts from this week on their phones or from a printout (you’ll find them on the website.) It might work well do this in groups and get them to report back after a few minutes
o Do any of the posts spark any comments or questions?
o If you had to choose one post to share with a friend or keep for themselves, which one would it be?
What’s God’s Story?
Read Matthew 5v1-12
And the post in The Post tab.
Get your group to engage with these four Beatitudes …
There’s a lot to think about in each of the beatitudes, let alone 4 – or all 8! You may want to decide to focus on one, or break the group into smaller groups with each group focusing on one Beatitude and reporting back.
Here are some questions you may want to work with:
o Can you think of a movie character, or someone in real life (not Jesus!) who is most like this characteristic?
o How would someone who’s like this be likely to be misunderstood by people who don’t believe in Jesus? What names would they be called?
o Is there some way this person would be admired or attractive to people?
o Can you think of a time or story in the gospels where Jesus is like this Beatitude?
Your Story and God’s Story
So you’ve encountered a bit of what God’s life is about – how does that fit with the way things are in your life – your story – right now?
Some questions to help you replay your story …
o Did any of the four characteristics we looked at in this session make you feel excited in some way – like, ‘yes that’s me!’? Any make you feel like you’ve got a long way to go to get like that?
o Would you prefer it if these were things you could try and get right directly or is it better that it’s about hanging out with Jesus and letting them just happen?
Re – draw your picture of Jesus
Does reading the things Jesus celebrates in people change the way you think of him in any way? Is there anything there that would inspire you to worship him?
Your Story Re-imagined
What practical action, response, thought do you want to take into the week?
Have you encountered something today that makes you want to say to God: ‘wow, I’ve totally got that wrong in my life, sorry! Help me see how to think or act differently from now on’ ?
A little while after saying these things in Matthew 5 Jesus also said this:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Growing into the kind of person who rocks in Jesus’ world is about depending less on yourself and more on God. It’s about letting Jesus change you from the inside.
Some questions to help you remix your story …
o What can you do to ‘come towards and get away with Jesus’ this week?
o What would you like to ask Jesus to do for you or to grow in you?
From the WordSpace
Here are five posts from the WordSpace we’ve posted specially to tie in with this topic:
Does your school have those honour boards on the walls of your assembly hall? You know, the ones with the names of students who’ve done really well at sport or academics or whatever?
What do those boards say about who rocks in the eyes of your school?
In Matthew 5v1-11 Jesus posts his own honour board for the people who rock in his world. It’s a surprising list packed with those who crave good relationships; who aren’t full of themselves; who weep when they see the world’s hurt – and a bunch more.
Would you like to have your name there? It begins with asking Jesus to mould you into that kind of person. He’ll do it.
I’m someone who wants to make Jesus proud. I just wish I was better at it.
Most times in my Christian journey I try to do things the RIGHT way (usually through my own strength.) Then when I fail I always get disappointed in my lack of ability.
The great thing about Jesus is that He is proud of us and loves us whether we get it right or wrong. And the closer we draw to Jesus the more we’ll find ourselves getting things right.
God is way more interested in moulding you than in what you can give to Him. So let’s rest more in His love and a bit less in our ability.
Read Romans 8v37-38
Did you enjoy the World Cup? I’m a big footie fan, and it was the best World Cup I can remember. My favourite moment was Van Persie’s amazing diving header against Spain. For 4 weeks those players rocked our world.
People who rock God’s world are not always the superstars in the spotlights. I love seeing people bring calm where there are arguments or conflicts. That stuff lasts forever – so much longer than a goal or a game or a career.
I love sport, but I want to become more like those calm-creating peacemakers and rock in God’s world – forever. How about you?
‘Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!’ (Gandalf)
There’s some good advice in case you meet a dragon today. I love how in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies it’s hobbits that get to be the heroes of the story. They live in holes in the ground. They’re small. They have to be rescued all the time. Hobbits don’t usually think very much of themselves – which makes them perfect for carrying Rings and other adventures.
I think Jesus would call hobbits ‘poor in spirit’. He’d say ‘you’re blessed!’
Do you feel like you’re nobody really special? You might be just the person Jesus loves to bless – and use for big things.
Just remember about the dragons …
Wow, God, you say some crazy things sometimes! Happy are those who mourn? Happy are those who are meek? Happy are those who are pure in heart? Clearly your thinking is different to mine.
But I do want to be happy. And I do believe that you know better than I do what will make me truly happy.
Jesus, you know what it is like to be truly human and that your Holy Spirit is working in me to be the best version of myself that I can be.
‘Teach me your ways, God, teach me your paths.’ Psalm 25v4
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