Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:1-12
Jesus presented an upside-down kingdom. The very things valued by the Greco-Roman world (and us too) – wealth and fame – were devalued in Christ’s kingdom. Blessed is usually understood to mean “happy”, but more precisely the word suggests the idea of “being congratulated” because God’s favour is granted to the individual. The blessedness described in the Beatitudes is not a quality characteristic of human beings but a trait of God Himself. Only God imparts this blessedness – not on demand or as the result of your fulfilling prescribed conditions. Blessedness is a characteristic exclusively available to believers. Since this blessedness comes from within, it is neither caused nor affected by outside circumstances. Social and spiritual aspects of life are woven through each Beatitude.
As believers we are characterized by our humility and confidence in God. Through the Beatitudes Christ explained His personhood and His ministry, which were marked by humility and sacrifice. The world despised anyone who was considered weak, but Jesus taught that anyone who recognizes his own spiritual poverty and helplessness is ready for spiritual growth.
1. THE POOR
The poor in spirit could refer to those who are both spiritually impoverished and socially and economically oppressed. Nowhere in Scripture is poverty or absence of possessions declared to be the path to spiritual blessing. The emphasis was upon emptying ourselves to make room for God. One who is poor cannot satisfy his/her own need; they are driven by their poverty to dependence on God. When self-sufficiency and pride are stripped away, we are ready to be responsive to God, His Word and the gracious ministries He sends to meet our needs.
As with most godly character traits, the pattern is found in the life of Jesus. He came into the world in a humble setting – a stable manger in an insignificant village. There is no way into the kingdom of God other than with the poverty of spirit that comes from emptying ourselves in pride, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency and in contrast filling ourselves with God, His strength and God-sufficiency. The emphasis is on God’s power instead of our resourcefulness.
The New Testament uses the phrase kingdom of heaven in three ways. Here all can be included in the meaning:
- The kingdom of God within the heart of a believer. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
- The body that includes all believers on earth. “He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. – Luke 11:2.
- The kingdom prepared for believers after death. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:19.
In each case God ushers in the kingdom, and Jesus reigns over it. Only the poor in spirit, claiming no personal merit, can enter because grace, and not works, opens the door.
2a. THOSE WHO MOURN
The meaning cannot be confined to sorrow over sin. Again the reader finds a paradox since most people do not recognize sorrow as a blessing. Followers of Christian Science even deny the existence of physical illness and suffering. Yet sorrow and death will always be present. Still this Beatitude does not suggest that physical suffering or loss of a loved one or any other tragedy of life would bring blessing merely as a payment for grief. Spiritual mourning indicates a sensitive consciousness of sin and an accompanying sorrow because of that sin. “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” – James 4:9. Those who mourn recognize who they are; they see purpose in sorrow and suffering; they allow that sorrow to give glory to God. Tragedies become stepping stones to the heart of God and His comfort. Grief prompted by the sin itself, rather than only by the consequences of the sin that might have affected you adversely, produced sanctified sorrow.
2b. THEY WILL BE COMFORTED
The Holy Spirit enables us to cry out for help because He not only brings conviction but also awakens within our sorrow over sin. As the believer mourns over sin, the Holy Spirit who abides within does His work to give comfort and joy and enables him/her to persevere, even in the midst of sorrow and suffering. The Greek verb is in the passive voice and the future tense, implying not only assurance for the present but also security for the future. The cycle of comfort will be continuous because the Holy Spirit dwells now and forever in the believer’s heart. The blessedness should not be construed as coming from the path of sorrow itself but from the comfort accompanying the believer in the journey.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Source: Culled from The Study Bible for Women
To Be Continued!!
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