The Beatitudes

November 24, 2013   Matthew 5: 1- 12   The Beatitudes 


       Most of us have experienced what happens to motorists when one of those huge graders goes to work on a highway repair job.   When the machine is operating on a busy road, traffic is halted and the cars lined up in opposite directions are allowed to proceed alternately.    A veteran operator of one of those big machines decided one day to try to relieve the tension that inevitably results from such a traffic backup.     Consequently on both the front and rear of his grader a sign now appears, declaring, "The Road to Happiness is Almost Always under Construction."   That fits well with this passage.   Beatitudes is a word derived from Latin meaning to be in a state of happiness or bliss.  I suppose that as we look at the words of Jesus here we could think that the path is under construction.  

       Chapter 5 ushers this great sermon of blessing.  In many ways it is a change from the old because this is the first picture of Jesus teaching.    Mount Sinai stands as a giant of the Old Testament.   That is where the law was given to Moses and to God’s people.   The people were afraid of God.  That law was given with thunders and lightening with warnings of judgment and cursing.  We see in the New Testament Mount Zion with grace, forgiveness and salvation offered.   In this sermon that Jesus gives to us we see that man does not have or possess a self righteousness that can pass God’s scrutiny and God’s perfect righteousness. 

     There are 4 major discourses that Jesus taught and Matthew records 3 of them.   There is the Sermon on the Mount and the parables discourse in chapter 13 and the Olivet discourse in chapter 24 and 25 which looks to the end times.  Many comments and slants have been made about the Sermon on the Mount. You could say that it is the pinnacle of Jesus teaching.   One commentator said it is Jesus manifesto which means it is a public declaration of intention.   Some may consider it as the gospel.  Some say it is God’s plan of salvation and in order to get to heaven the rules must be followed because Jesus says in it that your righteousness must exceed the Pharisees.     When Paul talks about the gospel in Matthew 15:3 and 4 he does not say it is the Sermon on the Mount but he said that Christ died was buried and that Jesus rose again.    Some feel the Sermon on the Mount was given to point out to us that we cannot live up to Jesus teaching.   One pastor called this sermon that Jesus gave an X rated sermon in other words that it is strong meat and not the easy material or as Hebrews says the milk of the word.     Mark Twain said that he was not bothered by the stuff in the bible that he did not understand rather it was the stuff he understood that bothered him.     

    Do you find the Sermon on the Mount is legalistic?   Jesus spent a great deal of time dealing with legalistic Pharisees.   Does Jesus expect you to live his teachings in this passage?   Jesus tells us in this sermon that we are to be salt and light and that our righteousness needs to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.   Jesus talks about looking on a woman lustfully and tells us to go the second mile.  Jesus tells us to give, forgive, to fast and pray and said do not judge others.   Jesus tells us to totally build our lives on him.   Do you know anyone who totally lives up to Jesus teaching in this passage?       Do you find the Sermon on the Mount legalistic?     Is the word of God in this passage is for us to live and obey?    Jesus certainly makes it plain that our walk with God is more than just what we do outwardly.   God is interested with what is going on inside of us.   He is interested in the heart and our thoughts.  

    The thoughts that Jesus gave to us in verse 3 to 12 are conditional.  If you do this then this happens.   Jesus tells us that it is possible for us to be happy.   Blessed means happy, fortunate, and blissful.    Can a person live up to what Jesus teaches in this sermon and be happy?   Many would say that it is impossible.   You would have to admit that it seems to be a paradox.   These are called be attitudes.  It is how Christians are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be. 

    The first one is blessed are the poor in spirit.  What do you think the crowds thought of that?   How do we normally look at the word poor?   What does the word poor mean here?   It means to shrink to cower to cringe.   It is not like the widow who put in 2 copper pennies.  She was poor but that is not the poor that Jesus means here.  It is like a beggar who does not want anyone to know who he is.   He covers his face not wanting anyone to see his or her face and holds out their hand.   What does it mean to be poor in spirit?    It is not about how much money you have.   A person can be rich and be poor in spirit.  Does being financially poor help to be spiritually poor in spirit?     And it is not about de valuing yourself.  It is not I cannot serve.   It is not I God has not blessed me at all.   We are rich in Jesus.   The poor in spirit see their total dependence upon God.   Jesus commented on the church of Laodicea you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.   Is that just for those guys or for every human being?   Our tendency is to think we are pretty good and cool guys and gals.   Those that really understand know better.  Luke 18: 9 – 14 

    Jesus puts this beatitude first because it all starts with humility.   This is beatitude of humility and Jesus said for those that are poor in spirit theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  It is like God’s heart is wide open to those people.  God blesses those people.  How do you know if you attain that state?  One person said we will be weaned from our self.  It is about Jesus and not about us.  It means you are not stuck on yourself anymore.  He comments those people will be lost in the wonder of Jesus and we will not complain about our situation realizing that things could be worse.  The poor in spirit will be able to see other people strengths and virtues and see others as more important than us.    The poor in spirit will be a praying person and will accept Jesus on his terms.  If you come to the Lord with a broken heart God will meet you.  Isaiah was purified when he cried woe is me.  

    The next beatitude says.   Blessed happy and blissful are those who mourn.  Really?   Kind of seems upside down.  The world would say take your troubles and hide them.   Put your troubles away and do not think about them.   But spiritually there is a time to mourn.  There are different Greek words used that we translate into mourn and there are different kinds of mourning.     Paul writes of a worldly sorrow that leads to death and there is a godly sorrow that leads to life to forgiveness and blessing.  Mourning runs through our lives.   It is like a garment that we often find upon us.  Is there a wrong kind of mourning?   Yes.   There is the worldly sorrow.  Those that mourn when evil plans do not happen or come to fruition.  One can mourn and grieve over a lost one to extreme.  There is a time to move on.  The strongest kind of mourning is what Jesus uses in this passage.    It is the kind of mourning that Jacob felt over the loss of Joseph.   Does the happiness come in the mourning itself?   No   It really comes in response of God.   David deeply repented over his sin with Bathsheba and in that deep repentance and sorrow he found forgiveness.   David writes blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven whose sin is covered.  The result of mourning that Jesus said here is that there is comfort.  The Holy Spirit is the comforter.   David said your rod and your staff comfort me.  There is oil there is a healing and season of comfort and blessing from God.  

    Verse 11 and 12 Jesus says to rejoice and be glad.   I think Jesus could say rejoice and be glad if you are poor in spirit.   Rejoice and be glad if you are mourning for the right reasons.  It is thanksgiving time and the Lord would say to us rejoice and be glad in Jesus.