Matthew 5: 3-12
We must know the Teacher before His teaching can make sense to us or be real in our lives! He teaches with the Spirit in mind to empower us, and His grace sustains us. In so doing, He does not teach us a set of "dos and don'ts," but reveals to us a picture of life, as it should be. The picture of life is the church as we relate to the world, living and working in the power of the Spirit by what Christ has done. This picture develops as we become a Christian (John 3:16; Rom 12). We then respond to God and others from what we are given. The great incomprehensible gift of grace that we have received is free, but it is of no good if it is not being used and passed on, because if this is so, the picture goes undeveloped. Because of grace, we should be responding in gratitude. Thus, the quintessential way to please God and show our gratitude is by our character development, then, the picture is printed. There should be nothing of more concern to us in our psychological and spiritual development than our pursuit to please Him (Matt. 6:33).
Pleasing Him takes place by our growth and understanding of our Lord and then relating that picture through our lives to others. This is character in action. The outcome is that we become a blessed person who is happy, content, and joyful because we are doing and partaking in what we are called and made for, as we should. The problems and trivialities of life are mere shadows to our real purpose and call (Matt. 6:34). The picture is develops with a more beautiful and stronger image as it is passed amongst the world!
The Beatitude definitions:
- Poor in Spirit: (Psalm 9:18; Rom. 9:30-31) This may conjure up ideas of physical and social poverty, but it actually means total dependence on God, realizing our sinfulness (Psalm. 40:17; 86:1; 109:22; Jer. 22:15-16)! Physical poverty and spiritual poverty are tied together. The greater our physical needs, the greater we as humans tend to look to God. Being rich in material goods has an extremely negative chokehold, preventing us from seeking spiritual things! We do not see or admit to our need, depending on ourselves rather than upon God! Being poor in Spirit is to be humble and surrendered, where we do not look to ourselves, but to God. It is the realization that we are sinners, having no righteousness of our own. We are saved by the grace and mercy of God alone (Isa. 57: 15; 66:1-2; Luke 18:13; Gal. 2:20-21: Eph. 2:8-9)! The cure to physical and spiritual poverty is the realization of what really is important--who we are in Christ! The leaders in power (civic and church) have the responsibility to ease harshness and provide for the physical needs of the poor! The opposite is being prideful and self reliant, to the exclusion of allowing Christ to work in you or allowing Him to use you to help others. In so doing, you are keeping yourself and others in spiritual and physical poverty and oppression (Luke 18:9-14; Rev. 3:17-19)!
- Mourn: Most people assume it means those of us who have lost a loved one, but it actually means that we realize that we are sinful and fallen before God and need a Savior! Thus, we mourn, grieve, and lament for our sin and evil and our lost state! When we see sin, it must cause us to morn for the loss of righteousness, and seek grace. Sin is our failure to seek Christ and what He has for us, which is the best for us! David gives us a prime example of this after his adultery with Bathsheba (Psalm 51:3-4).
- Mourn and poor in Spirit go together as we mourn for our depravity, which we will not realize without the Spirit moving in us powerfully.
- They shall be comforted means we are comforted now and in the future (2 Col. 1:3; Rev. 21:1-4)! Our great comfort is the grace we have received!
- Meek is not weakness, or a lack of strength, but our humbleness because of the first two beatitudes. Thus, we are gentle toward God and others (Psalm 37:11). Meekness causes us to seek to please God and submit our will and aspirations to His will and what is best. Jesus is the ultimate model for meekness! Moses is a good example of meekness (Ex. 32:19-20; 30-34; Num 12:1-3). It can also be translated as gentle (Matt. 11:29). Meekness will enable us to endure being personally attacked while keeping our focus on Christ and humility.
- They shall inherit the earth refers to the Abrahamic promise (Gen. 12:1-3; Rom. 4:13; Heb. 11:16). We will also inherit it now and in a future sense and as a result of putting the kingdom of God first (Ecc. 5:19-6:2; Psalms 37:1-11; 16-29; Matt. 6:33; Mark 10:29-30). So enjoy your time here! In addition, you will enjoy the future with a new earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13).
- Hunger and thirst for righteousness is seeking the depths of God's love and righteousness, and in so doing, be committed to continuing to allow yourselves to grow in maturity, being transformed and renewed (Rom. 12:1-3). "For they shall be filled" is our receiving God's blessing and approval for our faith and yearning to grow in Him. It is the righteousness that Christ has given us that we so greatly need (Rom. 5:9; Ph 3:8-16; Rev. 19:5-9). The Psalms are filled with many examples. My favorite is from Paul (Psalm 42:1-2; 19:12-14; Phil. 3:7-15).
- Merciful: Is the love, respect, honor and action to help those in need. It is placing ourselves in someone else's shoes because we see our own need for mercy (Matt. 18:21-35). Jesus exemplified this by caring for those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34), as did Stephen (Acts 7:60). It is putting help and forgiveness into action, even to those who hurt us.
- "For they shall obtain mercy" is the joy and honor of receiving the forgiveness for our sins through the blood of Jesus, appeasing the wrath of God for us. God was more merciful with us than we could ever be with anyone else, or could ever deserve. No matter what we go through from persecution or loss, we could never glimpse what Christ gave to us with grace (Rom. 5:9; Rev. 1:5-6)!
- Pure in Heart is not innocence, but rather it is to have a disposition that has no room for selfishness, or hidden motives, so our path is in harmony with Christ. We do this with a concern to please God-PERIOD--because our will has been yielded to His. What Christ has done at makes us pure! This character will produce an attitude of being sincere, which is genuine honesty. The character of the Pharisees was hypocrisy--the direct opposite of being pure in heart!
- They will see God, for us to see God we have to be pure. Because of our sin, and that God is pure holiness, that is impossible. But Christ is in plain sight because He covered our sins in His atonement through Grace, and we exercise faith in receiving it (Psalm 24:3-4; John 14:9; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; 1 John 3:2). Since we are currently citizens of the kingdom, we can see God through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the future, we shall see Him face to face (John 14:6-7; Rev. 21:3; 22:3-4).
- Peacemakers: This is not the peace of the hippie movement, or between nations, but the peace we have with God because His wrath is appeased by Christ's atonement on our behalf. We are willing to make peace with others because we have found peace with God. Since Christ is the Prince of Peace, the application we make is because we have peace and God's example of it, we now should live at peace with our neighbors, proclaiming peace and rekindling it when it goes down or is lost (Rom. 5:1; 12:18-21; Eph. 6:15)! We are at peace with God, so we need to be at peace with ourselves, emotionally, and others, relationally.
- They shall be called sons of God. Even now, we are called the sons of God because peace has been made so we can be called His children (1 John 3:1-2; Rev. 21:5-7)!
- Persecuted for righteousness sake is having endured undeserving, harsh environments, torn relationships, loss, and abuse because of taking a stand for knowing and proclaiming Christ. Persecution comes from those who are proud and arrogant because they are still in their sins! It is not just being forced into persecution, such as imprisonment for your faith in a hostile country, but it is allowing suffering and persecution to happen even when we have a way out of it, because of our faith in taking a righteous stand. It is living for God, regardless of our circumstances or pressure from society. This is submission to God, not to things that are not of God. It could be anything from extreme persecution or losing our physical life, to exclusion from what we may want from society because of our faith--such as losing a job, enduring gossip, slander, hypocrites, and such for Jesus' sake.
- For theirs is the Kingdom of God. Being citizens of the kingdom is our primary concern, not the society in which we are living (Acts 14:21-22; Phil. 1:29-30; 2 Tim. 3:12). Thus, we need to focus on how this can produce character in us!
- Many of the OT prophet's suffering (vs. 12b), refers to the cost of obedience (Psalm 44:22; 69:7; Jer. 12:10-13). They did not speak what the people wanted to hear, so they underwent persecution (Jer. 6: 13-15; 8:8-12; 23:16-22; 28:8-9).
When you take a stand in teaching truth, you will get opposition--not just from the sinners of the world, but also from the leaders of the Church! The OT prophets and Jesus did, as did the reformers, and others who stand for Christ in an organization that caters to self and agenda of the leaders. People do not like to be faced with their wrongdoings, or wrong actions. They especially do not like to be challenged for their presumptions and assumptions!
When you teach, the burden of proof is on you to give accurate information. When you listen to instruction, you responsibility is to listen. That means you have to yield what you want to hear to what you need to hear and what God wants you to hear!
The Jews at the time did not believe that prophets still existed or were there with them (John the Baptist). Thus, they were astonished at Jesus' and John's teachings. The boldness of John, and the miracles of Jesus backing up His teaching, was the proof that these were not ordinary men, but God-sent men on an extraordinary mission. Further proof was expounded when the disciples died for the Masters teaching. No man died for another's words in that culture!
May this sermon of Jesus motivate us to examine our attitudes, to see if there is room, (and there should be lots of it) for improvement in our relationships with both God and those around us!
- If someone were to take a picture of your life from Jesus' point of view, what would it looklike?
- What should that picture of your life from Jesus' point of view look like?
- Do you know the Teacher (Jesus) well enough to make sense of what He is teaching you? If not, what is in the way?
- Can you follow His teachings without the power of the Spirit and the atonement of grace? Why, or why not?
- Carefully read through each of the eight Beatitudes. How do they relate to how your friends, culture, and media view them?
- How do these Beatitudes relate to the promises connected to them?
- Do you have the qualities described in "The Beatitudes"?
- Do the blessings described in "The Beatitudes" encourage you to develop such qualities?
- Which of these eight qualities do you desire to have more of, and which do you want others to show you?
- How have you experienced total dependence in God? How did that change you, if it did?
- What can you do to realize in a more in-depth way, that you are a sinner, and have no righteousness on your own. You are saved by the grace and mercy of God alone. How does that become a part of your "worldview," that is, your thinking and the values that affect the way you relate and react?
- What would it take for you to become a more humble and surrendered Christian to God, so that you do not look to yourself, but to God in all things and in all ways?
- The cure to physical and spiritual poverty is the realization of what really is important, who we are in Christ! How can this be made real in your community?
- Have you realized that you are sinful and fallen before God, and need a Savior? If not, what is in the way?
- Our great comfort is the grace we have received, comforting us now, and in the future! How can this affect your behaviors when things do not go your way?
- How, and in what ways, can you and your church be gentler toward God and others?
- In what area in your life do you need to please God more and submit your will and aspirations to His will?
- Are you committed to seeking the depths of God's love and righteousness, and in so doing be committed to continuing to allow yourselves to be transformed and renewed? (A lot of Christians make the mistake in thinking that discipleship is only for new Christians. So, remember this important fact: Discipleship is something that is on going. It does not stop at the basics, when you let Him in. It must be ongoing throughout your Christian life!)
- When have you placed yourself in someone else's shoes (given someone mercy or help) because you saw your own need for mercy?
- What would it take for you to have a disposition that has no room for selfishness or hidden motives, so that your path is harmony with Christ?
- Are you willing to make peace with others because you have found peace with God?
- Have you ever persecuted someone or received persecution from pride and arrogance? Do you realize that this means you, or they, are still in sin?
- Read through each of the eight Beatitudes. How can you put them in further practice in your walk with Christ and how you relate to people and the world around you?
- What can you do to develop your picture of your life from Jesus point of view, to be more reflective of this sermon?
© 2002, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org