Day 9

Jesus Teaches the Crowds

from the reading plan

Matthew 5:1-11, Luke 6:20-26, Matthew 5:13-20, Matthew 6:1-4, Matthew 7:7-12, Matthew 7:24-29

I’m not a world traveler by any stretch of the imagination. Over the years, though, I’ve had the privilege to go on a few international mission trips. When I was in college, my first was a spring break trip to Germany, France, and Italy. Later, I got the chance to spend a couple of weeks in the Philippines, and I’ve been to Haiti three times. 

In every nation, I found the people are incredibly gracious—and more than a little patient with this clueless American. 

And I’ve always appreciated the meals. Everywhere I’ve been, my hosts seemed determined to provide the best spread possible. And I’m sure that in some cases, it was a personal sacrifice for them to demonstrate such hospitality.

But here’s the truth: while experiencing the food of other cultures has been deliciously great, I’ve always looked forward to finding an American restaurant once I got back to the States. By satisfying my physical hunger, I reconnect to something deeper in my life. For me, there’s just something special about catching a burger or a chicken sandwich at the airport that proves I’m home again.

I think Jesus understood this longing for something deeper. During His earthly ministry, He taught a lot about what it means to be a part of His kingdom. In fact, the Gospel of Matthew is built on five sermons about living as kingdom people. The first is the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5–7, which opens with one of the most famous lists of kingdom markers in Scripture: the Beatitudes (5:3–12).

And there, nestled in the middle of the Beatitudes, is His blessing on those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (v.6). We understand the search for purpose and satisfaction. We know what it’s like to try to win the race or climb the ladder. Since we were children, we’ve been challenged to accomplish much because that’s how many define success and happiness in life. 

But in the Beatitudes—and throughout the Sermon on the Mount—Jesus painted a much different picture. He taught that God’s kingdom is upside-down. Kingdom living runs counter to everything we’ve learned and heard. According to God’s agenda, true satisfaction doesn’t come from getting more, doing more, or even being more.

It comes from desiring the right things. 

When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are pursuing the things of God. The stuff culture wants us to chase will only leave us empty, while walking with Christ produces satisfaction and peace beyond description.

That’s the kind of kingdom living Jesus taught the crowds throughout His time on Earth. It’s still what He’s teaching His people today.

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