In chapters 5-7 of gospel of Matthew we find what we call, “The Sermon on the Mount.” This was perhaps the first such sermon. Jesus had been teaching before this, but this seems to take on a different form from His previous talks. At the very front of the sermon, we find “The Beatitudes” as we often refer to this section. The word “beatitudes” simply means supreme blessedness. As the Sermon on the Mount commenced in Matthew 5:3, Jesus spoke of these great blessings:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Jesus did not speak these words for the purpose of making an already religious society feel better about themselves. Rather, He sought to solicit their attention to characteristics that made the Kingdom of Heaven different from their customary lifestyles. His mission, besides redeeming sinful man, was to usher in a new rule. He sought to teach man about the Kingdom of God and how one could enter it. The beatitudes serve as the foundation for a highly focused spiritual life. They are unique in a way that makes them relatively easy to remember yet powerful in its impact.
If one would be a child of God, the beatitudes call on them to mold themselves in an image not recognized by the world (1 John 2:15). That is, they are to be completely different from the norms and societal values taught by men and governments. One does not have to think too hard as to how these values differ from those that would have been around the people of Jesus’ day. Nor or they traits found in most of society today. Forgiving someone a debt is a rarity in our society today. Purity of heart is certainly a far cry from what is on television, cell-phones and computers today. Perhaps all these things are more accessible today than it was 2,000 years ago, but it doesn’t change the fact that men seek to put an emphasis on satisfying the flesh rather than the spirit.
Jesus commended the multitudes to begin by being humble. As such, we must recognize we are sinners, and we must mourn over the sins we so often commit. We are to deal gently with our neighbors all while starving for the food which profits our souls: God’s word! Even when it can be difficult, we are to show mercy to one another just as our Lord has shown us His great mercy. We ought to be pure and holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and free from blemish. Even when we persecuted and ridiculed, we are to make peace with men (Rom 12:18).
I admit, these are not the easiest things to practice but they are worth it. They may not find favor with men, but they are most favorable with God. If these things are yours then you will indeed be a supremely blessed individual. May these values stand out in our lives as disciples of our Lord.