Stryder is a mysterious figure. He is a loner, a wanderer. But, as the story develops, Stryder becomes something much more than just a quirky stranger shrouded in his hooded cloak. In Tolkien's epic series, The Lord of the Rings, we see that Stryder is really Aragorn the exiled king of Gondor. The transformation from exile to king is an arduous journey for Aragorn. And, for many who watch his journey, it is filled with hope. If a poor wanderer can rise to such heights, then there is hope for all of us.
Jesus begins his famous "Sermon on the Mount" with a series of blessings for the underdogs, the exiled, the outcasts and the unlucky of society. Jesus enters Jewish society at a time when the text of the Old Testament has been twisted to authorize an oppressive social order. This social order, seemingly mandated by Holy Writ, has placed the rich, the "well-born", the popular and the powerful in possession of God. (Dallas Willard) Jesus comes along and says it is the poor in spirit, the persecuted, the ones who have suffered great losses, and the meek who will be the most powerful people in His Kingdom.
To our modern ears, this sounds like a good platform for a political campaign, but to the powerful people of Jesus's day, they were fighting words. He was threatening the foundations of Jewish society and He was threatening the architects who had put them in place. Though threatening to the powerful, it was revolutionary to those burdened with the unbearable weight of so many laws. There were laws for staying clean, laws that isolated the sick, laws for eating, laws for speaking, laws for the Sabbath and subcategories under each area only a scholar could keep straight. The average Jewish citizen was at the mercy of religious leaders, not to mention their Roman oppressors. They were harassed on every side!
Jesus came with a message of hope for the burdened people of Israel. His message still goes out to the outcasts of our world today. He promises those on the outside, the hurting, those who don't measure up to societies standards of beauty and power that they will be uniquely blessed in His Kingdom. Jesus's teaching is still rattling the kingdoms of this world two thousand years later.
Read Matthew 5 to prepare your heart to hear God's message this weekend.
There are very real forces of evil working to undermine the advance of God's Kingdom in Lake Worth and beyond. I would ask each of you make a renewed commitment to pray for our church, preschool and city.