We’re breaking away from our one-chapter-per-day format for a couple of days as we begin The Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon of Jesus’s public ministry. Today we will focus on the very beginning of the sermon, known as the Beatitudes. Tomorrow, instead of our typical Sunday rest day, we’ll read about our role in the world as Jesus begins to lay out for us what a biblical worldview looks like.
Read Matthew 5:1-12
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus begins the most famous sermon ever preached with a section now known as the Beatitudes (or “blessings”) during His Sermon on the Mount. The beatitudes are qualities and character traits desired among God’s people which result in God’s blessings. Let’s examine them one at a time:
- The poor in spirit are those who are poor spiritually, not financially. God’s people must realize they are spiritually depleted due to their own sin which separated them from God. Through faith and belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, however, they receive Salvation which fills them spiritually and ushers them into God’s kingdom.
- Mourners express deep sorrow and grief. The mourners Jesus references are mourning their sins and sinful condition. They recognize and admit these sins and their sinful nature, and in turn, receive the blessing of being comforted, forgiven, and healed by the Holy Spirit.
- The meek show humility. With humbleness and gentleness, the meek sacrifice their own rights for the benefit of others. The ultimate act of meekness occurred when Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world. In today’s world, unfortunately, meekness is not a sought-after characteristic. However, in God’s Kingdom, the meek are blessed and inherit the earth.
- The hungry and thirsty for righteousness are God’s people with an intense, active spiritual longing. They have a deep desire to have a right relationship with God, to be more holy, and see righteousness throughout the world. Imagine an intense hunger or thirst, not to be filled with food or drink but rather with God himself.
- Merciful. Mercy is when God does not give us what we do deserve; instead, He forgives our sins. He is a merciful God, and His people should be merciful as well. Showing mercy to others can be demonstrated through compassion and forgiveness.
- Pure in heart describes people free from evil desires. Because God cares deeply about His people’s innermost thoughts and desires, having a pure heart provides the blessing of having a deeper and more intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.
- Peacemakers use intentional actions to make peace in the world. The action of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is the mission of every follower of God. Peacemakers are the children of God.
- Persecuted because of righteousness. Persecution and blessing do not naturally pair together. Yet, Jesus says God blesses those who endure suffering and pain because of their faith in Jesus and God’s promise of eternal life. Such suffering because of righteousness later brings its reward and blessing in heaven.
As we go about our days today, let’s meditate on these words and ask God to help us live and embody these characteristics today.
- Are you poor in spirit? Have you recognized your selfish spirit apart from God? For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). We must be poor in spirit to receive the blessings from the remaining beatitudes.
- How can you extend mercy (not giving someone what they deserve) to someone at your workplace, in your family, or among your friends this week?
- The world may not reward the meek, but God does. How specifically do you (or can you) show meekness in your own life? To hear another perspective on meekness, see the bonus element below.
“The beatitudes celebrate the life we have received by faith, not the life we have achieved by our effort. They remind us of God’s work, not our performance. We never graduate from the beatitudes nor retire from their personal significance. They are a complete picture of the grace of Christ at work among the disciples.” Douglas Webster
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