When (Jesus) finished the Sermon on the Mount, which has been looked on as the very essence of idealism, what was the impression He left upon His hearers? That of an impossible idealist announcing an impossible program? Hardly.

He did not use such words as “I hope so,” “I think so,” “perhaps,” “it may be,” but such words as “Verily, verily [in truth], I say unto you.” … He was declaring what is, and bade men to relate themselves to that reality. … He did not say, “Blessed will be the poor in spirit,” but “Blessed are”–He was announcing facts operative here and now.

The Sermon on the Mount breathes the air of realism in every line. In cutting the root of murder at the place of anger; the root of adultery at the place of looking; the root of false swearing by abolishing all swearing; the root of wars and clashes by forbidding all revenge and all hating of enemies; the root of all unrealism and play-acting in giving of alms, praying and fasting; the root of Mammon [greed, the promise of wealth] by repudiating its sway; by getting rid of anxiety about tomorrow and living for today; by ceasing to have critical attitudes toward others and judging them; by the application of the Golden Rule to human conduct; by insisting or the entering into life through discipline–entering a narrow gate; by emphasizing that good fruit can only be had from good trees; by summing up the whole thing in His insistence that the man who acts on His way will be a man whose house is on rock and will thus be able to stand up against life when floods and storms do their worst–in all these things there is stark realism. He lays it all down with an air of finality: take it or leave it, but this is the way to live.

And yet it was free from dogmatism and fanaticism. There was an air of quiet certainty that did not need to rave or pile adjective on adjective to enforce dubious statements: He seldom used adjectives–He stripped language of all verbiage and reduced it to fact. The language and the fact are so intertwined that they seem like the words and music of a song.

But that reality, He insisted, should be tested both in Himself and in them (his listeners and followers) by a simple realistic test: “By their fruits ye shall know them”–the outcome is the criterion. You cannot tell what life is except through its manifestations. Through the centuries no better test has been discovered.

 – E. Stanley Jones, Is the Kingdom of God Realism?, 1940

Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes

And seeing the multitudes, (Jesus) went up into a mountain:
and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

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 5:1-12

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