Matthew 5:1-10. 1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
No, Jesus was not teaching to a multitude, although they could have been crowded around listening. What Matthew describes is that Jesus ministered to the multitude, then sad down on the side of a hill and began to teach His disciples.
Not only is He sitting down with His twelve. But, were there twelve or were there as many as 70? Jesus sent 70 out to do ministry. There is a point that many of His disciples walked with Him no more. We really do not know at this point, but they were His disciples.
What we find in this great sermon covering 3 chapters is the foundation for what we look like living in God’s Kingdom where Jesus is the King.
As we start into His introduction keep in mind who the audience is. We can call them His disciples, but it is much deeper than that.
These men, a great representation of the rest of Israel, are frustrated men. It was just days or recent weeks earlier that Peter asked Jesus to leave him because he was a sinner.
- Sinners, those who try to find their own way.
- Sheep without a shepherd.
- Blind who have leaders who are blind also.
Their understanding of who God’s children are is skewed. They do not personally have copies of the Old Testament and have to rely upon the teachings of their leaders, trusting that what they say is correct.
Jesus’ job, for the first year of His ministry, is to teach the people correctly. To be successful in leading people anywhere they have to know what it looks like when they arrive. It’s knowing what a win looks like.
- What does a successful family look like?
- What does a successful children’s ministry look like?
- What does a good retirement look like?
- What does a good pastor look like?
- What does a relationship with God look like?
What is often called the beatitude happens to be a simple progression in a beautiful relationship.
First, allow me to help you understand the picture a bit better by clearing up the translation. In the original there is no verb in the initial phrase of each of these eight insights. The “are” in the “Blessed are” is not there.
Actually, it would read more correctly like this:
- Blessed! the poor in spirit…
- Blessed! they who mourn…
- Blessed! the meek…
Blessed is not to be an end result of being poor in spirit but is perfume that comes from the process. It is a more Jewish statement that lines up with how the Hebrew word is used in the Old Testament.
What is the difference? One is a statement and the other is an exclamation.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit…
- Blessed! the poor in spirit…
See the difference?
What difference does it make in Jesus’ message? The first sounds like basic instruction and the second is an attention getter. He has something important to say.
So, let’s take a look at this growing process.
1. The POOR IN SPIRIT – Aware of Spiritual Emptiness: They are those who are painfully aware of their misplacement as in the poor in Isaiah 61. They do not fit in this place. We are people of another world, the Kingdom of God. This is a reflection upon the awareness that we are weak without God. Peter exemplified his awareness of emptiness when he said, “Go away from me, I’m a sinner.”
They were lost. They were sinners. They wanted to live right before God but did not know how to do it. They were already poor in their spirits.
2. They THAT MOURN – Repentive: how can being blessed and mourning go hand in hand? Paul gives us the understanding in 2 Corinthians 7:10:
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Awareness of your spiritual emptiness will produce repentance.
3. The MEEK – Give Up Control: This is a direct quote from Psalm 37:11. The Hebrew word that is used in the Psalm literally means humble. It is not a word for weakness but it is an understanding of our proper place in this universe. God is great and we are small. The opposite of meek are those who are manipulative, controlling, and violent.
The progression continues. Awareness – Repentance (Savior) – Give Up (Lord)
4. Those Who HUNGER and THIRST for RIGHTEOUSNESS – Godly Desire: Jesus is painting a picture of perseverance. Without food or water you will die. The right things in our lives have got to be like food and water to our souls. These are those who want to live right really badly.
Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
5. The MERCIFUL – Compassion to Others: The common thought of that day was like the idea of Charma of today – what goes around comes around. If something bad happened to you it is because you were bad in this life or the one before it or because you parents were bad. What Jesus taught was that people go through bad times. Later in this same chapter He taught that it rains on the just and the unjust. Therefore, show mercy. Reach out to the hurting. When we show mercy we receive mercy.
The Hebrew word for compassion comes from the root word that means womb. In other words, compassion is what a mother feels toward her unborn. What does it say about our compassion if we kill our unborn?
6. The PURE IN HEART – Seeing God in Every Circumstance: What does an impure heart look like?
To be pure in heart is to be focused on one thing, God. When we focus on God then God can be seen even in calamity. What calmness we can experience when we can see God even in the middle of everything falling apart.
Awareness of Emptiness – Repentive – Release Control – Desire More of God – Compassion on Others – See God Moving in Everything – still growing
7. The PEACEMAKERS – Healers: The Hebrew word for peace does not mean the absence war but means “completeness”, “wholeness”, “healing.” To be peacemakers we must be about bringing people to a place of wholeness, completeness, and healing.
8. Those Who Are PERSECUTED for RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE – Through Good or Bad, We Are Committed: These are those who are totally committed to stand for what is right. This stand must be the willingness to stand in the face of those who hate what you stand for.
On these progressive stairs, where are you located?
Now that you see the picture the Jesus described, can you see a reflection of yourself?
Is someone standing at the top step better than the one at the bottom of the step? According to Jesus both the first step and the last step “have the Kingdom of Heaven.”
If bother are equal, why should we care if we move from one level to the next? Each level is built with the foundations for the succeeding level. Every level is transitional and moves our relationship closer to God.
Which level is your stage in life?
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