The beatitudes are found in the Gospel of Matthew from chapter five verses 1 to 11. They are part of the first sections of the ministry of Jesus Christ, but I think many of us calling ourselves Christian don’t spend enough time remembers these verses; or living them.
As I was reading the Gospel of Matthew today, many things jumped out at me, but the beatitudes stuck with me. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about for this week’s blog post, (and my first for this new blog) but as I read the beatitudes it became rather clear.Let's start by looking at where we are in the journey of the ministry of #JesusChrist before we get into the actual beatitudes. Click To Tweet
Let’s start by looking at where we are in the journey of the ministry of Jesus Christ before we get into the actual beatitudes.
The Beginning of the Ministry of Jesus Christ
When you look at the Gospel of Matthew, you will seek that the ministry of Jesus starts in the middle of chapter 4. Christ had fled to Galilee because John the Baptist was arrested. This is where it all started with the calling of the first disciples.
Jesus calls Simon (Peter) and Andrew first and they follow immediately. Next he calls Zeb’edee and John who leave their business and their father immediately to follow Christ. Only one other short section is found between the start of the ministry of Christ and the beatitudes.
The section before the beatitudes shows that Jesus was ministering and teaching, along with healing everybody brought to him. Great crowds had begun to follow him and they even followed from Galilee to other nearby areas, such as Judea, Jerusalem and Jordan.
The Introduction to the Beatitudes
Jesus has realized there were large crowds following him, so before He starts to deliver the beatitudes, he goes up on a mountain to find a bit of peace from the crowds. This is a teaching moment for the disciples and while Jesus likely spoke to them before this, it’s the first instance outside of telling them to follow Him we see in the Gospel of Matthew.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of these fishermen. They are probably teenagers, maybe early 20s and Jesus is about to start teaching them. This is what Jesus has to say:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The very first thing Jesus tells his disciples has to do with the poor in spirit. This doesn’t mean without spirit, but instead, humble in spirit. Could you imagine sitting on the mountain listening to Jesus tell you that if you want to be a part of the kingdom of heaven, you’ll need to be poor in spirit?
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Okay, so Jesus took it a bit easier on the disciples with the second beatitude. I think we can all agree those mourning deserve to be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Right back to that confusing language that probably made very little sense to the disciples at this point. It’s important to understand what meek means or we may completely miss the message. Do you want to miss a message that could tell you what you must do/be to inherit the earth?
I didn’t think so and I will help you out. In the bible, meek or meekness tends to mean humble or gentle towards others and submissive to the Lord. It doesn’t mean submissive to other human beings, which could be a misunderstanding if we are not careful with where we take our definition from.In the bible, #meek or meekness tends to mean humble or gentle towards others and submissive to the Lord. Click To Tweet
So, Jesus is basically telling these young men they must be humble and gentle to others and submissive to the Lord if they want to inherit the earth. I don’t know about you, but when I was a teen and in my early 20s, humble, gentle and submissive would have been the hardest three things for me to accomplish.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Now there is some hope. At least if we cannot figure out how to become meek, we can certainly develop a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. Wait, we better define righteousness before we go and develop this hunger and thirst.
According to the dictionary, righteousness means, “a quality of being morally right or justifiable.” If you need more than this definition, just read the Book of Job in the Old Testament.
Okay, now that we have defined righteousness, can we really develop a hunger and a thirst for it? Those are two very strong things. If you were hungry for food and thirsty for water, you’d almost be to the point of desperation to find or get both of those things in order to be satisfied.Can we develop a true desperation for righteousness? If we can, Jesus promises to satisfy our desperation. Click To Tweet
Can we develop a true desperation for righteousness? If we can, Jesus promises to satisfy our desperation.
I think the first 100 or so times I heard this portion of scripture, whether from a priest or the popular song in church, I assumed it referred to actual hunger for food and thirst for water. My mistake.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
Another one I think we can all be okay with. Those showing mercy to others should certainly obtain their own mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Whoa there partner! You mean, if I can figure out how to be pure in heart, I can actually see God? That’s some strong language!
If it were up to me, I screwed this one up many, many, many years ago. Luckily, because of Jesus Christ, I still have a chance and so does everybody, no matter how dirty, tainted or ugly you think your heart is. We can allow Christ to cleanse and renew our hearts, which is the only true way we can achieve a pure heart.
I think this one may have been a struggle as a disciple. At least if it’s just like the Gospel of Matthew states it without an explanation or anything more.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Don’t you want to be called a son of God? I know I do. I guess we need to get to work as the peacemakers are the ones getting this prestigious title. Becoming a peacemaker can’t be easy work, but if Jesus says that’s what we need to be to become known as sons of God, we are called to do it.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
So those who suffer for justice and for what is truly right are going to get the kingdom of heaven. My ears are perking up and I am ready to figure out how to do this, but I don’t really want to be persecuted.
Today, persecuted (at least in the U.S.) might mean getting made fun of or bullied. Sure, it could be worse, but for most, this is about as far as it will go.Back when Jesus said this, they stoned people and hung them on crosses. Click To Tweet
Back when Jesus said this, they stoned people and hung them on crosses. Persecution often meant death and not a quick death. Imagine how many stones would have to pummel you before you were dead. Imagine how many hours you’d have to hang on a cross before you finally passed on.
This beatitude must have scared the feces right out of the disciples. Can you imagine being there and hearing these words come out of the mouth of Jesus?
“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
If you want to be able to rejoice because you have great rewards in heaven, stand up for Christ no matter what people say or do to you. Scary stuff, especially for disciples that just started following Christ.
Imagine what it would have been like for a moment. Picture dirt roads weaving in and out through stone buildings, mud tents and villages. Imagine livestock everywhere, the ripe smell of animals and a crowd of people following around the guy that just told you to leave your livelihood to follow Him.
He just made you one of his “guys”, healed a ton of sick, demonically possessed and diseased people; probably the same people you’d avoid if you ran into them on a dirt path. In fact, some were probably shunned from society altogether.
You just witnessed all of this and you’re thinking, “man, this guy is for real.” Then, He retreats to a mountain to escape the crowd and teaches you through the beatitudes. He isn’t mincing words or beating around the bush. Instead, Jesus just gets right to it and tells you how it is....it takes more than just saying you believe in #JesusChrist as your savior to be saved... Click To Tweet
I know not all Christians will agree, but I believe, after reading the beatitudes today, it’s proof that it takes more than just saying you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior to be saved. Jesus lists off the rewards for a number of different types of people and while we must turn ourselves over to Christ, I think it takes more than just faith.
I, by no means, believe we, as humans can earn our way into heaven. However, I do believe our works are highly important in the process as the fruits we produce matter and our salvation does depend on the fruits of our labor here on earth.The beatitudes are a very strong reminder of what it truly means to be a #Christian. Click To Tweet
The beatitudes are a very strong reminder of what it truly means to be a Christian. Jesus shows us how different His message for us is compared to the message of society. It didn’t take Him long to show us that following society (back then and today) wasn’t going to give us the eternal rewards we seek.
As Christians, we are all called to transform our lives to live like Christ. While we will fail at this time and time again, we are to never give up and we are to constantly pray for help in transforming our lives.Anytime you need a stern reminder from a passage in #scripture we have turned into something gentle, read the #beatitudes. Click To Tweet
Anytime you need a stern reminder from a passage in scripture we have turned into something gentle, read the beatitudes. The language isn’t so gentle when you really think about it and I can imagine a touch of sternness in the voice of Jesus as He delivered this very strong message.
I am by no means a great scholar of the bible or any type of authority, so as I will do on every post, I welcome your comments and thoughts below. Just keep is civil as hatred and attacks will not be tolerated in the comments section of this blog.