One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them.
2This is what he taught them:
3 “God blesses those who realize their need for him,£
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.
4God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5God blesses those who are gentle and lowly,
for the whole earth will belong to them.
6God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for they will receive it in full.
7God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. 12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.
Key Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount
Realize need for God (5:3)
Old Testament anticipationClashing worldly valuesGod’s rewardHow to develop this attitude
Poor Isaiah 57:15 Pride and personal independence Kingdom of Heaven James 4:7-10
Mourn (5:4) Isaiah 61:1, 2 Happiness at any cost Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4) Psalm 51
Gentle and lowly (5:5) Psalm 37:5-11 Power Receive the earth Matthew 11:27-30
Hunger and thirst for justice (5:6) Isaiah 11:4, 5; 42:1-4 Pursuing personal needs See it happen John 16:5-11; Philippians 3:7-11
Merciful (5:7) Psalm 41:1 Strength without feeling Be shown mercy Ephesians 5:1, 2
Pure in heart (5:8) Psalm 24:3, 4; 51:10 Deception is acceptable See God 1 John 3:1-3
Work for peace (5:9) Isaiah 57:18, 19; 60:17 Personal peace is pursued without concern for the world’s chaos Be called children of God Romans 12:9-21; Hebrews 12:10, 11
Persecuted (5:10) Isaiah 52:13; 53:12 Weak commitments Inherit the Kingdom of Heaven 2 Timothy 3:12
In his longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits he was looking for in his followers. He called those who lived out those traits blessed because God had something special in store for them. Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society’s typical way of life. In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition the best example of each trait is found in Jesus himself. If my goal is to become like him, the Beatitudes will challenge the way I live each day.
Matthew 5–7 is called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus gave it on a hillside near Capernaum. This “sermon” probably covered several days of preaching. In it, Jesus proclaimed his attitude toward the law. Position, authority, and money are not important in his Kingdom—what matters is faithful obedience from the heart. The Sermon on the Mount challenged the proud and legalistic religious leaders of the day. It called them back to the messages of the Old Testament prophets, who, like Jesus, taught that heartfelt obedience is more important than legalistic observance.
Enormous crowds were following Jesus—he was the talk of the town, and everyone wanted to see him. The disciples, who were the closest associates of this popular man, were certainly tempted to feel important, proud, and possessive. Being with Jesus gave them not only prestige but also opportunity for receiving money and power.
The crowds were gathering once again. But before speaking to them, Jesus pulled his disciples aside and warned them about the temptations they would face as his associates. Don’t expect fame and fortune, Jesus was saying, but mourning, hunger, and persecution. Nevertheless, Jesus assured his disciples that they would be rewarded—but perhaps not in this life. There may be times when following Jesus will bring us great popularity. If I don’t live by Jesus’ words in this sermon, I will find myself using God’s message only to promote my personal interests.
Jesus began his sermon with words that seem to contradict each other. But God’s way of living usually contradicts the world’s. If I want to live for God, I must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. I must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse. By giving up my own rights in order to serve others, I will one day receive everything God has in store for me.
There are at least four ways to understand the Beatitudes: (1) They are a code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers. (2) They contrast Kingdom values (what is eternal) with worldly values (what is temporary). (3) They contrast the superficial “faith” of the Pharisees with the real faith that Christ demands. (4) They show how the Old Testament expectations will be fulfilled in the new Kingdom. These Beatitudes are not multiple choice—pick what you like and leave the rest. They must be taken as a whole. They describe what I should be like as Christ’s follower.
Each Beatitude tells how to be blessed by God. Blessed means more than happiness. It implies the fortunate or enviable state of those who are in God’s Kingdom. The Beatitudes don’t promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity. Being “blessed” by God means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, I need to follow Jesus no matter what the cost.
With Jesus’ announcement that the Kingdom was near (4:17), people were naturally asking, “How do I qualify to be in God’s Kingdom?” Jesus said that God’s Kingdom is organized differently from worldly kingdoms. In the Kingdom of Heaven, wealth and power and authority are unimportant. Kingdom people seek different blessings and benefits, and they have different attitudes. Is my attitudes a carbon copy of the world’s selfishness, pride, and lust for power, or do they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, my king?
Jesus said to rejoice when we’re persecuted for our faith. Persecution can be good because (1) it takes my eyes off earthly rewards, (2) it strips away superficial belief, (3) it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and (4) my attitude through it serves as an example to others who follow. We can be comforted knowing that God’s greatest prophets were persecuted (Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel). The fact that we are being persecuted proves that we have been faithful; faithless people would be unnoticed. In the future God will reward the faithful by receiving them into his eternal Kingdom, where there is no more persecution.
My Father, for the truth which Jesus channeled to me concerning your Kingdom, I express my moving thanks. Be in me increasingly that your Kingdom, your rule, may guide my decisions, inspire my will, and determine my actions. Amen.
– From Deep Is the Hunger by Howard Thurman
I need to ask God to show me the importance of these foundational truths which Jesus has taught me. Also I should pray that he will reveal to me the kernel of truth that is buried beneath each Beatitude and also, that he would show my best how to live that truth.
“Sitting at the feet of Jesus, Oh, what words I hear Him say! Happy place! so near, so precious! May it find me thru each day….
Bless the Lord, O my soul. All this is within me bless his name. Amen.
“Blessed are you.”
No stranger words ever startled the ears of the poor, the humble, the meek, the mourning. What had been considered a curse is proclaimed a blessing! A living death is called “a more abundant life.” Bad news becomes “Good News.”
The beatitudes are Jesus’ self-portrait, the most personal description we have of Him in the Gospels. They are the timeless image of Christ.
… We have often longed to know what Jesus actually looked like. What would a painting, a photograph have shown us? Would we today recognize Him if we saw Him? Although the mystery of the face of Jesus remains, each of us carries his own inner picture of Him. Consciously or unconsciously we are always looking for the Christ figure Who walks into each of our lives; each of us hopes for a secret or unexpected rendezvous. As an adopted child looks unceasingly for his real parents, or a parent for a missing child hoping for a meeting, a recognition – so we long for the Emmaus experience. “Now as they talked this over, Jesus came and walked by their side, but something prevented them from recognizing Him” (Luke 24:15).
We are all, in a sense, Zacchaeus, anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, “Like him we listen to hear our name called down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.” Yet it is in the Beatitudes that we truly recognize Him.
– From Surprised by the Spirit by Edward Farrell
Measure yourself on these mental attitudes:
- Poor in Spirit I have come to the place where I feel accepted by God when I feel most unacceptable to myself. I recognize my need for God and know that I do not have to earn His love with wealth, status or spiritual sophistication.
- Mourn: I have come to the place where I can really feel the empty places in my life. I can let others know when I am hurting and share the grief of others without embarrassment. I can weep like Jesus did.
- Meek: I have come to the place where I don’t have to be the strong one all the time. I can be tender and gentle with people. I’ve given the control of my life to God and I don’t have to “win” all the time.
- Spiritual Hunger: I have come to the place where I want to know God and His will for my life more than anything. I am more excited about God’s will for the world than my own financial gain, success in my ministry, or acceptance by my peers. I long for God’s perspective in my decision making.
- Merciful: I have come to the place where I can enter into the feelings of someone who is hurting, lonely, or distressed and feel alongside them in their pain. God has given me a sensitivity for the suffering of others.
- Pure in Heart: I have come to the place where I can be completely open and honest with God and others – transparent because I have nothing to hide. I don’t have to put on “airs,” or pretend to be what I’m not.
- Peacemaker: I have come to the place where I really work at keeping the channels of communication open between me and those around me. I deal with anger and disagreements immediately and don’t allow them to fester. I encourage those around me to work and their differences without hurting one another.
- Persecution: I have come to the place where I know what I am living for, and for this cause I am not afraid to suffer and, if need be, die. I am willing to “take the heat” and stand alone for what is right. I can take criticism without feeling self-pity or self-righteousness.
Below is a list of qualities based on the Beatitudes. In silence, think about them:
- SELF-ACCEPTANCE. The ability to accept yourself and your imperfections, and to enable others to be more self-accepting.
- EMPATHY. The ability to feel what others feel; to laugh and cry with others.
- GENTLENESS. The ability to be tender because you are inwardly strong and to lead without overpowering others.
- SPIRITUALITY: The ability to maintain spiritual priorities and to cause others to seek a deeper walk with Christ.
- SENSITIVITY: The ability to pick up on the hurt and pain of others and be “present” without being pushy or nosy.
- TRANSPARENCY: the ability to be yourself without any pretenses and allow the presence of Christ to radiate through you.
- PEACEMAKING: The ability to harmonize differences between others without causing either person to “lose.”
- ENDURANCE: The ability to stand up for what you believe without getting defensive or compromising your principles.
How do these promised blessings compare with what most people in the world prize? Nowhere near. Would kingdom people be admired in my society? A lot closer; but not yet there. Why or why not? Because they are willing to love God over materialism.
Of these eight qualities: which two do you desire most in your life? Why? Empathy and Sensitivity. Because being a man; this is hard for me.
Based on the beatitudes, is the light of your life shinning like a 300 watt bulb? Yes.How can Jesus help me to “shine b righter”? Keep me on the right path.
In what area (beatitude) have I made the most progress in the last year? Meek. How have I experienced the blessing? I can better feel love.
In what area do you to need to work on something? Poor in Spirit.