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
We continue with our study on the Kingdom Values that Jesus taught on the Sermon of the Mount, which all believers require for spiritual growth.
3. THE MEEK were not the weak or cowardly. They were those who, under the pressure of life, had learned to bend their wills and to set aside their own notions as they stood before the greatness and grace of God. They were characterized by humble trust rather than arrogant independence as they exercised self-control of life and actions, submitting to the authority of Christ. Our focus must move from dependence upon God. In Humble recognition of our sinfulness, we must empty our lives and now stand before the Lord, seeking to please and serve Him by cheerfully obeying His commands and graciously submitting to the authorities God has placed in our lives.
Again the paradox is clear: The world associates gentleness with weakness, but in God’s eyes strength characterizes the one who harnesses life in order to maintain God-control. Gentle self-control prepares the way for God-control. Just as inheritance of the land was an expression of God’s intervention and deliverance for Israel (Deuteronomy 4:1; 16:20), to inherit the earth was a temporal manifestation of the heavenly kingdom to come and another way to express God’s sovereign rule. Enjoying that inheritance is possible because of a God-given spirit of contentment. “Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.” – Psalm 37:16. “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.” – Proverbs 15:16.
The first four Beatitudes describe the character of one who has been awakened and filled with the Spirit of God:
- Being poor in spirit affirms your own inadequacy and humility before the Lord.
- You are conscious of your sinfulness and mourn.
- You are gentle and allow God to control your life.
- You are not self-righteous, but realize only God Himself can offer what is needed. Your spiritual sensitivity brings a complete change of perspective.
Each Beatitude builds upon the previous one and prepares for those that follow.
4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, “what God requires, what is right, what is just” have a craving for righteousness, comparable to such physical hunger and thirst as was known only in lands where people died for want of food or water. God has placed in His creation an insatiable hunger for Himself – a God shaped vacuum only He can fill.
5. “Righteousness” equalled the will of God. Matthew used this word seven times in his Gospel, and five times the word was used in the Sermon on the Mount. God’s standard for righteousness is the life of the Lord Jesus. The text does not say that the person full of righteousness, realizing the journey of spiritual nurture never ends. The desire for spiritual sustenance must be renewed daily even as in your physical appetite. The word for filled is in the passive voice, indicating that the filling was to be done by an outside agent. The Lord does the filling. The verb is in the future tense, affirming that the filling was not a one-time event. God means for the filling to continue to supply nourishment and satisfaction. The emphasis turns from character to how character is shown in relationship to others.
6. The merciful are moved to pity and compassion – sympathetic to the suffering of another. However, this mercy is not merely pity or an emotional response. To extend mercy God’s way is an act of the will, and once extended, mercifulness draws more mercy. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day prided themselves in doing deeds of service, but their hearts were often indifferent to the sufferings of others (Mark 3:1-6). Mercy ruled out merit and overshadowed other attributes of God. God’s justice was satisfied by the sacrifice of His Son, and that was mercy.
7. The pure in heart are people who are morally upright and holy and not just ritually cleansed. They have a lifestyle not only different and set apart in what they do but also marked by a difference in thought and motivation. To be “pure in heart” is to be obsessed by God and controlled by Him. This purity is an inner fountain that feeds all we do and say. The pure in heart do not harbour ill intentions toward anyone and are obsessed with pursuing genuine godliness. Those who debt has been paid by Christ on the cross will indeed see God. Having been redeemed, we enter His holy presence and see things as God sees them. Many of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day observed the laws concerning ritual cleanliness of the body, but only a person who turns to Christ to cleanse him of his sins will ever see God (Hebrews 12:14).
8. The peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) strive for harmony in all areas of life as a reflection on the inner peace that God brings to His children. Jesus taught that peace will only come when people have peace with God. This Beatitude raises the bar to the highest intimacy with the heavenly Father (Matthew 5:45). The word moves beyond the idea of political and economic stability to include total well-being in the spiritual realm as well. Peacemakers want more than an end of conflict. They want healing among the people, ultimately dependent on reconciliation with God. This derivation of the Greek word for peacemakers is used only here in the New Testament. It refers to one who makes peace and seeks reconciliation rather than to one who is passive and seeking peace at any cost. As peacemaker we separate ourselves from our own interests and whims and what is best for us. We become others-oriented with a deep concern for how the kingdom would be impacted be our actions. We must be willing to suffer injustice in order for peace to reign and Christ to be magnified. To be called sons of God was not a gender assignment but an honourable title that went beyond personal identification to acknowledge publicly our relationship to the Lord and our place in His family.
9. Those persecuted for righteousness’ sake will have the kingdom of heaven, having come full circle to offer the same reward as the first beatitude and best displaying the paradoxical nature of Christ’s kingdom. Persecution was considered a blessing in Christ’s kingdom because it allowed a person to empathize with the sufferings of Christ. Jesus did not promise vindication, but a reward in heaven awaited the person who persevered. Persecution begins when we commit ourselves to Christ and it intensifies as we become more and more like the Saviour. The world expects compromise and the path of least resistance, but Christ demands a gentle spirit and purity of heart and life in view of these three persecutions:
- Revile (reproach, heap insults upon)
- Persecute (“seek after, strive for” and in its root meaning “pursue”) in the sense that the world was running after believers to cause them suffering
- Say all kinds of evil against you falsely (lying) referred to defamation of character or deception by falsehood.
The tense of each of these verbs describing these categories of suffering suggests that the event happened at a particular time in the past instead of being an ongoing and continual action. Persecution happens, but it is not necessarily a continuous experience. There is a window of hope for earthly relief and the assurance of ultimate heavenly deliverance. In verse 12 Jesus used a strong word to express rejoicing and it was amplified with another verb, suggesting increasing intensity of joy. The persecution in itself does not bring joy but often affirms that we belong to Christ, giving us a unique opportunity to glorify Christ and bear our testimony for Him.
Source: Culled from The Study Bible for Women
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