These chapters in Matthew contain some of the most beautiful-sounding and misunderstood verses in the New Testament: the Beatitudes. And it all comes to a climax with possibly the simplest, most life-changing verse in all the gospels. These are all calls of God to come see reality as He sees it, and then act accordingly!
Most of us have heard of The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. But we tend to think of them at a distance–as something beautiful and poetic, but unattainable. Jesus wasn’t into saying things that sounded spiritual. He was taking everything His listeners thought they knew about “being spiritual” and turned it on its head!
“Blessed”–refers to a self-contained happiness, independent of outside circumstances.
Matt. 5:3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit…Not financially poor. It refers to those who realize their complete need for God. For daily provision, for wisdom when we need direction, for power and strength, for patience—you name it! See John 15:5. This attitude puts us in a place of receiving all our spiritual supplies.
Verse 4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Not talking about God as Comforter when we’re sad. It’s connected to what Jesus had just said. Mourning is the feeling in the heart that the poor in spirit know in their minds! If the first beatitude is our mental understanding of being spiritually poor and receiving the kingdom of God, then this second is our emotional understanding of the same thing.
Verse 5 – Blessed are the meek…shall inherit the earth. This is humility and submission before God, not weakness or bowing before men. (See Psalm 37:11 and Matt. 11:29.) This is tied into poor in spirit and those that mourn, because if you are one of those people, you are going to be meek and gentle like Jesus. Jesus is saying that for the meek, inheriting God’s promises is a natural consequence. The “meek” are the only rightful occupants of “the land”–that place where the blessings are inherited.
Verse 6 – hungering and thirsting after righteousness…they shall be SATURATED! We’re blessed when our deepest craving is for spiritual things, when we share the joys and sorrows of God’s heart. Hunger and thirst are two of our strongest longings. What do you hunger and thirst for the most? If it’s the righteousness of God as seen in yourself or others, you are a blessed and happy person!
Verse 7 – Blessed are the merciful…See Psalm 18:25a. God awakens mercy in us by shedding mercy on us. Then we extend it to others. When we do, God makes sure to continue the process. So we have two reasons to be merciful to others: 1) We’ve received mercy, so we should extend it, and 2) it’s a good idea to extend mercy because we’re going to need it in the future!
Verse 8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. NOT blessed are those who follow the Law and the traditions! See Psalm 51:6 for an Old Testament reference. Isn’t it wonderful when we actually WANT to do will of God? When we actually LOVE those that have been hard to love in past? When we’ve totally forgiven someone?
Verse 9 – Blessed are the peacemakers….Sounds so generically spiritual! What’s it mean? It’s like mercy, or grace. We receive peace, and we’re called to pass it on. Jesus gave peace to His disciples, and He gives that peace to us (John 14:27a). We are to extend HIS peace to others, mostly by sharing the good news with others and living a life that reflects Jesus and His peace.
Look at last three Beatitudes together: verses 10-12. How far away do you think you are from feeling blessed when you experience these situations? Instead of just batting this away, how about we ask the Lord to help us get to the point of knowing and feeling that we are blessed when these things happen?
Why rejoice? Because we have a great reward! The next life is real, and will be filled with rewards. If we really believe this, we’d have a lot more peace and joy!
The Beatitudes are a CALL – a call to see things the way God sees things.
This whole passage reaches a climax with perhaps the most life-changing truth in the whole section: Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”. It’s the Great Secret to what we call The Good Life.
When we put His kingdom first, when we put His will before ours, when we place our lives in His hands, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, what we receive is our extra reward for not putting our needs first. Can you hear God saying, “Believe Me, trust Me”?