April, 27 AD
Near the Sea of Galilee
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” were just a few of the words the breeze carried down the mountain from where the Rabbi, known as Jesus, was teaching one sunny afternoon on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. After wandering around Jerusalem, healing many afflicted people, Jesus saw the crowds growing, so he stepped atop a mountain where his voice could be heard more clearly. His twelve friends went up with him, and he spoke one of the boldest and most radical sermons anyone had ever heard. One member of the crowd shared his reaction.
“It was powerful. No other word for it. He shared some new insight for us – what it truly means to be blessed, how we ought to live and treat people, how to really understand the Laws we all grew up memorizing,” he shared. The woman with him expressed, “What really hit me was finally seeing it’s not just about the Law, it’s about a God who loves us, and Jesus really invited us into a life full of love and freedom.”
The words stung the crowds’ ears, contradicting a way of life that has long been accepted and sought after for upstanding Jewish individuals. The words spoken by this charismatic leader were poignant, yet full of love. His harshest criticism came for the religious leaders themselves, the Pharisees. Jesus’ words filled the crowd with awe, conviction, and peace. He shared, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith?” When he spoke this out, a murmur stirred among the crowd as people were shocked at such a statement. He concluded with a thought that left everyone filled with hope, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
The crowd hushed as Jesus confidently spoke these words. After a moment of silence, one woman yelled out, “Praise Him! He is clearly the Lord!”
Some of the crowd cheered while still others grumbled, unsure of what to believe. However, one of his followers, Matthew, described the atmosphere that day, saying that “people were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with such authority.” This authority will either prove to be dangerous or allow him to rise in status. Either way, this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing or seeing of Jesus, whom so many refer to as Messiah or Son of Man. His words ring hope, truth, and power, and the world craves renewal.