The Beatitudes: A Christian “to do” list?

You may be like me when you read Matthew 5. It seems like a Christian “to do” list, but it is so much deeper than that. Now the Beatitudes are supposed to be the character of a Christian, but only because it is the character of Jesus. Jesus is the subject of the Beatitudes. It is all about him. Jesus is the one blessed by the Father because he perfectly keeps the law. Jesus, not only keeps the law, but is really the only one who is promised blessing. He is the narrow way to our joy and the only way for us to find happiness.

When Matthew 5: 3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” You need to know that Jesus was poor in spirit. He acknowledged his need for the Father and was dependent on God in all things. The Bible says, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phi 2:8). Because Jesus was poor in spirit his Father blessed him and the kingdom of heaven is his.

Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.” Remember when Jesus wept over Jerusalem? He was mourning. He was grieved by the people in Jerusalem who were sinning.  Remember the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and sweat blood because he was about to bear the weight of the world’s sin? Jesus was concerned about sin. He mourned over it therefore his Father blessed him and comforted him.

Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.” Meek means having faith in God and being weak toward the world. Jesus came having great faith and resisted the world’s fleeting pleasures. He invites us to do the same in Matthew 11 where he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mat 11:28-30). Because Jesus was meek, he was blessed by the Father and has the earth as his inheritance.

Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work (John 4:34). Jesus literally called his food “doing the will of God.” Because he was a man who hungered and thirsted after righteousness he was blessed by Father and was filled by God.

Matthew 5: 7 says, “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” Jesus was a merciful man. In Scripture we see Jesus telling Peter to not forgive seven times, but to actually “mercy” the person who has wronged us (Mt. 18:21-22).We also see Jesus “mercying” a crowd after his cousin has died.  The Bibles says, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Mat 14:14). Because Jesus was merciful, he was blessed by the Father and he obtained mercy.

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” Jesus had integrity. There was no difference between his words and his actions. He was not double minded. He was singled minded in his devotion to God. Because Jesus was pure in heart, he was blessed by the Father
and he saw God.

Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” Peacemakers aren’t passive. Jesus was actively making peace for us. Ephesians says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”(Eph 2:14 ESV). Through dying on the cross Jesus tore down the hostility that was between us and the Father. Because Jesus was a peacemaker, he was blessed by the Father and is called the Son of God.

Matthew 5:10-12 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus was the most persecuted man. He was mocked. He was spit on. He died a criminal’s death even though he was an innocent man. Because he was persecuted for righteousness’ sake, he was blessed by the Father and the kingdom of Heaven is his.

The only person who is promised blessing is Jesus. Apart from Jesus this world is as good as it gets. It will only get worse after this.However if we are in Christ, this world is as bad as it is ever going to get. It will get so much better after this. The point is: accept Jesus. He is the narrow way to joy and the only way to find happiness.

* Much of what I wrote here was taken and adapted from Nathan Tarr’s sermon at Christ-Church Knoxville.

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