“Blessed are the poor in spirit, and those who mourn. Blessed are the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, and the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. Blessed even are the persecuted!” [Matthew 5:1-10]
In my favorite Bible, the heading over this section is “Finding True Happiness”. At the heart of Jesus’ preaching and teaching is the Sermon on the Mount—The Beatitudes are the beginning and the summary of an amazing sermon which fills three chapters of Matthew’s Gospel. They are a preview of what the Kingdom of God should look like within us.
The key for unlocking the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount is simply this: Jesus is the personification of the beatitudes. Through his living example the Beatitudes open for us an understanding into his divine yet amazing human life. These virtues Jesus shares with us are a beautiful illustration of his life, but even more than that, what God desires for us to find in our own lives—“True Happiness”. To follow Jesus wholly is to become a person of the beatitudes.
Jesus teaches his disciples and all of us that to live a life in union with him we must not only strive to avoid sin—but we must lead a new kind of life: One that is firmly rooted in the Kingdom of God. The Beatitudes teach us how to follow Christ in living as members of God’s eternal Kingdom.
Poverty of spirit leads one to recognize that the greatest good available to humankind is to lead a life rooted in God. This is the virtue that motivates our focus toward the eternal.
A mourning spirit helps to reorder our life according to what is most essential and lasting. It opens a person to the discovery of the promise that God accompanies us in all of life’s circumstances and challenges.
A thirst for righteousness leads us to strive for authentic justice, the first principle of which is to give God the love and honor and glory due to him. It expands our vision towards care for others.
To be merciful is to live with a forgiving heart, even when we have been deeply wounded by someone else. It is the foundation in which we hope to find pardon from God, which is offered so abundantly and freely.
To have a clean heart simplifies our lives and makes it possible to grasp a freedom which leads to a joyful embrace of God’s will.
Being at peace orders our life to be focused upon Christ’s gift of sacrifice on the Cross – the source of our true peace. Allowing the peace of Christ to reign in our heart makes it possible to truly live confidently as a child of God.
Even persecution for the sake of Christ is presented as a blessing. So many people reviled the Lord, especially as he hung upon the Cross. When we share in this condition, we are especially reminded of the saving grace that flows from it.
The Beatitudes open a path for each follower of Christ—A pathway to the Kingdom of God.
I want to invite you to experience the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ as I continue a sermon series “The Master and His Message” in which we will study in depth, week by week, verse by verse this incredible work given as a gift to all the people of creation by the Preacher of all Preachers—Teacher of all Teachers.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Fred