The King’s Blessing
November 7, 2021
The last 100+ years have seen some of the most atrocious leaders and dictators in the history of the world:
- Adolf Hitler, who ruled Nazi Germany in the 1930s-40s was responsible for the incarceration or death of between 15-20 million people during the Holocaust, and responsible for a total of 50-80 million people in World War II.
- Joseph’s Stalin’s name meant “man of steel” and he was the epitome of harshness, responsible for somewhere around 20 million deaths in his dictatorship over the USSR in the early 20th
- In four years as the leader of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Pol Pot was responsible for the deaths of about 2.5 million people — one-fourth of the population of his country.
- Leopold II was king of Belgium from 1865–1909; under his leadership Belgium took control of Congo in Africa and he routinely tortured, amputated, and killed in his quest to amass a fortune in ivory and other natural resources. Some 10 million Congolese died during his terrible reign.
- And we haven’t spoken of Vladimir Lenin, Idi Amin Dada, Kim Il-Sung, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Mao Zedong, Robert Mugabe, Muammar al-Qaddafi, or a host of others.
The legacy of kingship and rulers in this world is dismal. But we have a different kind of King.
The book of Matthew unfolds the presentation of Christ as King — he answers the questions, “what kind of King is this Messiah?” and “what kind of Kingdom will He establish?” This is Matthew’s repeated emphasis; just listen to a few of the ways Matthew reveals the Kingship of Christ:
- The kingship of Christ is asserted from the very first verse: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1). also 1:6, 16, 17.
- The kingship of Christ is alluded to in nearly the last verse of the book — “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth…” (28:18) — who has all authority but the King?
- The Magi affirmed his Kingship: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (2:2).
- John the Baptist declared the arrival of His kingdom: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (3:2); Jesus also would reiterate that declaration (4:17, 23).
- Jesus’ preached His kingdom (9:35) and He compelled the disciples to preach the arrival of His kingdom (10:7).
- Israel’s leaders (and ultimately all Israel, 27:17, 22) rejected the offer of Christ’s kingdom saying He was a “demonic king” (12:24); so the ability to receive the kingdom was removed from that generation — Jesus hid the Kingdom message from them while still giving it to the disciples and those who would follow the disciples (13:10-11; cf. vv. 24, 31ff).
- In His transfiguration, Jesus revealed something of the glory of His kingdom (16:28–17:2ff).
- Jesus’ kingdom was unique from other kingdoms because of those He invited to participate in it — the “marginalized” and “unworthy” (19:14; 21:31) and His exclusion of the so-called “worthy” and “important” people (19:23).
- The most important statement from the disciples about Jesus affirmed His Kingship: “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (16:16).
Over 80x in this Gospel, Matthew refers to Jesus as Messiah/Christ (King) or to the kingdom of God. He is presenting Jesus to a Jewish audience as the promised Messiah and King of Israel and all people. Matthew’s emphasis is on Jesus as the fulfillment of the covenants to Israel — so in that sense, when you read “kingdom” and “king” in Matthew, you can think “ultimate Kingdom” or “Millennial Kingdom.”
But he is also revealing what it takes for an individual (Jew) to be part of that kingdom — and how does God care for the people in His kingdom — and in that sense, this is personal and for us: how can anyone who is unrighteous be rightly related to God? And being rightly related to God, how should we live?
Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at this great King, who is infinitely better and infinitely greater than the best worldly king.
Today we start with one of Matthew’s first presentations of Christ as King — which was also Christ’s first recorded (and longest) sermon in Scripture — the Sermon on the Mount. We are looking specifically at the introduction to that sermon in which Jesus declares…
Christ is a King who rules to bless His subjects.
Of all the kings in the world, there is One who is superior and rules over them all — Christ the King. And of all the kings in the world, only this One King always lives to bless His people and subjects — Jesus Christ.
Christ’s Kingdom and “Blessing”
You are familiar with this passage (Eric Zeller preached it 3-4 months ago); the focus of the passage is the word “blessed.” The word means something like “fortunate,” “to be envied,” “blithsome,” “joyous,” and “happy.” It is the opposite of “cursed.” It is someone who has been favored with a graced position.
There are two significant differences between Jesus as King and all other men as kings. First, when other kings provide for their people, they seek to provide for their physical welfare, but these blessings are Jesus’ provision for the spiritual welfare of His people. His blessing is not for the “superficial feeling of well-being based on a circumstance” (MacArthur), but it is the provision of eternal gifts that transform our inner lives and give us permanent standing and fellowship with God. The blessing that He gives cannot be taken away and will never degrade.
But what I want you to notice a second difference between Jesus as King and all other kings — something commonly overlooked in these verses: the individual does not bless himself, but the blessing comes from someone else. The blessing is not what we do and the blessing is not even a “natural consequence” of our actions (like if I give you a birthday present you will say “thank you”). The blessing is a gift. From whom does that blessing come? It comes from Christ; it comes from God; it comes from the Father (6:9; 7:11); the blessing comes from the King.
And that is extraordinarily unusual. Kings don’t give blessings; they take and receive blessings. They exact taxes. They compel service. The force labor. They demand subservience. They don’t give anything (not really — not even when they “give” stimulus checks). Earthly kings receive and use gifts from their subjects. But King Jesus gives. He gives Himself and He gives gifts. This morning I want us to see some of the overwhelming gifts He gives as a blessing and grace to His people.
Christ is a King who rules to bless His subjects.
Jesus reveals eight gifts from the King for His people — eight blessings of provision for His own:
- Our King Blesses Us with Kingdom (v. 3)
- Our King Blesses Us with Comfort (v. 4)
- Our King Blesses Us with Inheritance (v. 5)
- Our King Blesses Us with Satisfaction (v. 6)
- Our King Blesses Us with Mercy (v. 7)
- Our King Blesses Us with God (v. 8)
- Our King Blesses Us with Sonship (v. 9)
- Our King Blesses Us with Reward (vv. 10-12)
Each of these blessings begins with an attitude or action on the part of the worshipper of God — “blessed are those who…” While there is value in looking at what the believer does, for our purposes this morning, I want to pay particular attention to what the King, Christ Jesus, provides to those who belong to Him.
Download the rest of this sermon on Matthew 5:1-12.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.