This Week's Message

The Blessed Doorway

The Statue of Liberty, with its beacon shining brightly in the entrance of the harbor of NYC, was a gift from France to America, for her welcoming of immigrants.  A plaque recorded this sentiment: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning  to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  [Emma Lazarus]

Nowadays, measures are being taken to build a wall along the US and Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants from entering from the south.  The general perception is that these illegal aliens, mostly poor, seeking work and security, come into North America without going through the normal channels for legal entry.  Today there are those who feel the need to staunch this influx of immigrants so that jobs and other services are not taken by these foreigners from rightfully deserving Americans. 

Spiritually speaking, as at Jesus’ time, there were those who believed some were more deserving of God’s blessings, especially those who tried to keep the Law of the Torah and live their lives in conformity with its demands.  When Jesus came preaching and teaching, His message was much as John the Baptist’s, calling sinners to repentance and faith in the coming kingdom of God.

But of course there were those who felt no need of repentance, or of John’s baptism, or were skeptical of any other kingdom that would disrupt their own self-righteous rules and regulations.  Jesus came proclaiming the Gospel of God’s in-breaking kingdom of grace and mercy.  He welcomed all who acknowledged their sins and looked to the Lord for healing and for forgiveness.  He spoke to His disciples and to the teeming masses who were attracted to Him on account of His healing miracles and gracious, authoritative word.      

Jesus would deliver what is known today as “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5:3-7:27), beginning with The Beatitudes, the  Lord’s blessings to those repentant believers and His calling to them to a new life of faith under God’s gracious care.  The opening Beatitudes one commentator likened to a doorway, an entrance into this blessed calling by God to faith and life in His name. 

Into this blessed doorway come the poor in spirit, the destitute of any spiritual advantage generated by their efforts, wants, abilities or deserving.  These beggars are blessed by God, “because God’s rule and reign, His kingdom of heaven, is theirs” (v. 3) by His grace in Christ.  Likewise, all those who mourn the sad and sinful and deadly consequences of their sins are blessed by God, “because they will be comforted” (v. 4) God promises.  The lowly, powerless to save themselves, are blessed, “because they will inherit the earth” (v. 5).  Those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the goodness God expects and demands of those desiring salvation, will find full and free satisfaction (v. 6) in the person and work and merits of God’s Son, Jesus, who manifests His saving grace by opening God’s blessed doorway to all.  The merciful are blessed, “because they will be shown mercy” (v. 7).  The pure in heart are those who confess their sins and look to God for forgiveness.  He blesses them in Christ, “because they will see God” (v. 8).  The peacemakers, those who share the Good News of God’s gracious kingdom, are blessed, “because they will be called members of God’s family (v. 9).  The persecuted for righteousness sake, the saving acts manifested in Christ Jesus’ life and ministry, are blessed now, “because God’s rule and reign, His kingdom of heaven, is theirs” (v. 10).  The blessed doorway welcomes all who hold fast to Christ by faith despite insults, persecutions, lies and slander.  Their reward is great in heaven, as it is for the prophets who came before those blessed today (vv. 11-12).  Jesus is the blessed doorway, welcoming us.