Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119:18.
Christ came to a people who were deceived and deluded by the demon of ambition. At that time they were under the Roman yoke, but they expected One to come who would establish a kingdom from which would be excluded every other people on the earth. He was to break the heathen yoke, to lift up His people, and set them with princes. All nations were to be summoned to appear before the One sent by God, and there called upon to surrender themselves or be consumed.
Prophets were continually arising and claiming to have special messages to this effect. Judah was to be honored as the place of power and glory. The kingdoms of the world and the riches of the Gentiles were to be placed at their feet, and they were to be exalted as priests and kings unto God. Those who did not believe in these great things for the Jewish nation were pronounced infidels. If their prayers did not abound in these glowing expectations, they were treated as worse than useless.... The people were so infatuated by the falsehoods of Satan that their minds were wholly unprepared for the real Christ.
Christ's work was to set before men the character of His kingdom, showing that names and positions and titles are nothing, but that pure virtue and a holy character is accounted as everything in the sight of heaven. In His sermon on the mount, the very first sentences that came from His lips were calculated to lay those ambitions low in the dust. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” He said, “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.”
This whole sermon was an exposition of the law. Christ presented the far-reaching claims of the law of God. He tried to correct their high imaginings by exalting true sentiments, and proclaiming a blessing upon those traits of character that were entirely opposite to the attributes they were cherishing. He presented before them a kingdom where human ambitions and earthly passions cannot find an entrance....
Christ's work was ... that He might lift souls who were perishing in ignorance of true godliness into a pure and holy atmosphere (The Signs of the Times, January 10, 1900).
From Lift Him Up - Page 135