In July, I preached a message from Matthew 5:31-48. You can watch it here if you’re interested (message begins at the 28:15 minute mark). Today and over the next few days, I will recap the message and explain how Jesus’ Sermon the Mount is an announcement of His New Kingdom. It’s a kingdom designed to challenge, confront, and conquer our own worldly kingdoms that enslave us to sin and perpetrate rebellion against God.
In the year 1519, Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes discovered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (modern-day Mexico City). Cortes expected to encounter primitive North American natives. Instead, he witnessed an advanced civilization of 15 million people; cities as large as Seville and Cordoba in Spain. Tenochtitlan boasted a complex highway system leading to the city, aqueducts, beautiful temples and pyramids (which rivaled the Egyptian pyramids across the globe). But Cortes was not there to take a tour; he was there to take over. When he met with Montezuma II, the Aztec leader, he issued a demand: “Give me all your gold, or I’ll kill you.” Montezuma, uncertain if he was dealing with a deity, tried to play it safe. He gave Cortes all his gold. Cortes responded by failing to keep his word and executed Montezuma. Chaos followed. Cortes’ conquistadors surrounded Tenochtitlan and besieged the city for nearly 3 months. Hundreds of thousands of Aztecs starved to death. Within 2 years, the Aztec civilization, which traced its roots to before the time of Christ, collapsed.
Two thousand years ago, another clash of kingdoms occurred when a real deity arrived on the scene in Israel. But Jesus Christ, in contrast to Cortes, didn’t arrive to take; he came to give. The Son of God didn’t come to steal and kill; he came to bring new life and inaugurate a new Kingdom here on earth.
John Mayer’s, Waiting on the World to Change and Coldplay’s Up and Up, with the lyrics “we’re gonna get it, get it together somehow” are common examples of how we all know things are not right in the world. We long for the world to be better and for evil to be defeated.
King Jesus is inviting you and me to join his Kingdom and be the change that the world needs. And when we choose to follow Him along the King’s Highway, He begins transforming our hearts and the very essence of who we are. Our very identity changes. The rebellion inside our hearts toward God melts into surrender. No longer are we enemies of God enslaved to misery-producing kingdoms. Instead, we become sons and daughters of God, and our desires begin to align with His. Following the King means growing up in maturity and faith in His Providence and advancing his Kingdom.
In the coming days, we’ll see what it means to follow the King. We’ll see how we can know if we are truly following Him and pledging our allegiance to this new kingdom.