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Kingdom of Heaven 101: Jen Wilkin on the Sermon on the Mount

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I didn’t realize all these things that were familiar to me were in one place. I felt like an idiot.

So thought Jen Wilkin when she first discovered Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7. Nor could she believe how little she’d understood the link between inward motive and outward obedience. As she began exploring the passage even more, she was blown away. “It’s like ‘kingdom of heaven’ in three chapters, a vital starting point for grasping what it means to walk in obedience as those who know and love the King of the kingdom.”

After years of studying and teaching this passage to groups of women, Wilkin has now authored a new nine-session small group Bible study curriculum on this beloved, but often misunderstood, passage.

“I love trying to get women to see a familiar passage with fresh eyes,” explains Wilkin, who also wrote the new book Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds (Crossway). One of her personal routines is to print out the text, double-spaced, and just start marking it up as she reads repetitively. “My conviction is that until I’ve spent time looking at the text myself, I’m not ready to hear what others have said about it.”

In a world that tells us it’s how we look on the outside that matters most, Jesus’ counterintuive message in Matthew 5–7 is as relevant as ever. “My desire is for women to see the beauty of what godly obedience looks like as a citizen of heaven’s kingdom,” Wilkin says, “and for it to transform the way they think about being a disciple.”

Watch the full nine-minute video to hear Wilkin discuss what Shakespeare has to do with Jesus, what two things she hopes women will take away from the study, and more. You can purchase the Sermon on the Mount study here.