The Gospel According to Jesus

Photo by Body-n-Care

From Rachel: I am kicking off 2019 with three months of rest and seeking God … so I am reposting favorites from the blog. Enjoy!

The Beatitudes, so familiar and easy to gloss over, are breathtaking when we see them clearly. Far from just a disjointed list of niceties, these kingdom blessings encompass the gospel according to Jesus. The kingdom of God is here, and so we are transformed by the grace of God–and the whole world with us.

Can there be a clearer picture of God’s transforming goodness?

In the Beatitudes we come empty, afflicted, and hungry. We leave merciful, pure, peacemaking, and prophets.

This is transformation!


The gospel is not just “you are a sinner, so you must repent and be forgiven so you can go to heaven when you die.” It is so much more than that. The gift of God is an eternal life that begins now, a heaven that comes to earth, grace that not only amazes but overwhelms and transforms.

Lord, forgive us for making it so small!

The gospel of the kingdom is a huge story, existing long before us and much, much bigger than our personal needs and concerns. Yet it’s so intensely personal that it can be summed up in the eight blessings of Jesus to individuals who are hungry and thirsty and spiritually impoverished, in the gifts God promises to give to all who come to him.

The gospel of the kingdom is more than “ask Jesus into your heart.” And yet the gospel is incarnate in you when you receive the goodness and grace of God. You are the flesh and bones of the good news. You are a clay jar housing the Holy Spirit. You are the Beatitudes lived out.


The gospel isn’t magic. For many people, the journey of transformation begins with “praying a prayer,” but praying a prayer in itself doesn’t work the change God promises in our lives. The gospel is a matter of receiving the blessings of God and living out their results.

It’s important to remember that the blessings aren’t given as a result of our efforts or our suitability for the job. To receive them, we just need open hands.

Remember, the first half of the Beatitudes–what you might call the requirements for receiving the gospel–are all negatives. You just have to be poor. Sad. In trouble. Hungry. Go to God with that kind of resume and you are going to get hired. His blessings are intended to turn your poverty into untold spiritual riches.


The gospel of the kingdom isn’t magic because transformation doesn’t just happen through a prayer or a set of rules followed. Every transformation in the Beatitudes is relational, and the blessings work relationally.

Look at them again:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

(Matthew 5:3-12, KJV)

We receive a kingdom ruled by a king, and that King chooses to speak to us and through us as his prophetic people.

In our mourning, God himself promises to draw near to us and comfort us, making us agents of reconciliation in the process.

In our affliction, God promises to work through our trials for our good, to purify our hearts, and to fulfill all his promises to us.

Jesus fills our hunger and thirst with himself and pours his undeserved mercy and compassion on us.

The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of God highly, deeply, personally engaged with us, effecting transformation in our lives, working his purposes through our pains and hopes and relationships. The gospel Jesus actually preached is not a system for getting to heaven or a set of teachings to embrace, but a promise that God himself will walk with us in the nitty-gritty of our lives and do something eternal and heavenly through our tiny earthly selves.



The last Beatitude includes the paradoxical exhortation to rejoice and be wildly happy when we are persecuted for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. What God promises to do in you is incredible, but it will come with trouble in this world. That’s just the nature of things when you’re at the center of the battle to save the universe. But it has the effect of testing our allegiance too.

Do we want to be changed?

Do we want to be healed?

Do we want to become agents of reconciliation and carriers of the Spirit?

The gospel Jesus preached isn’t the kind of message that just allows us to go on living the status quo. It requires a total shift in our priorities, our perspective, and our purpose.

Are you in?

I’m in. Please fill my empty hands. Draw near to me in my ache. Fill my hunger and thirst. I want your kingdom. Amen.

(This is Part 32 in a series on the Gospel of Matthew, which you can access here. Unless otherwise marked, quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)



, ,




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *