The Beatitudes – Part 1

Jesus, had a clear and unmistakable message to the multitudes that followed him as he went up the mountain (hill) and began to proclaim and teach what is called the “Sermon on the Mount.” This is one of the 5 major discourses in the book of Mathew located in chapter 5-7, the others are located in Chapter 10 (commissioning of the apostles), Ch. 13 (the parables about the Kingdom), Ch. 18 (the childlikeness of the believer), Ch. 24-25 (the discourse on His second coming). I want to focus on the introductory discourse, the Beatitudes, and what did they mean to the multitudes when Jesus spoke them and what does it mean to us today. This will be done in a series as we will look and discuss each Beatitude.

Jesus teaches repeatedly that a blessing will be given as one follows on His account. When we read Mathew 5:1-12 we can understand that if we are faithful and obey, we will be blessed. The Greek word (makarios) as described in Vine’s Expository Dictionary for blessed, means “happy.” “He promises a state of blessedness, “happiness” to all who live out the virtues of godly living as expressed in the Beatitudes.”[1] There is a parallelism of the beatitudes spoken of in the book of Luke 6:20-49 as referred to as the sermon on the plain. There are also some woes that are described in the passage in disobedience of living a godly life. Mathew 23:13-29 also describes other woes. Elwell states, “Jesus concludes the sermon by setting up certain requirements that relate directly to one’s being saved or lost. He divides humankind into three classes, those who follow, do not follow him, and pretend to follow him.”[2] It is important to understand that the way to salvation is accepting Him through faith. God, through His love, grace and mercy sent his Son to die for our sins. He paid the price, there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn our way to heaven, Romans 5:8. Paul is clear also as he helps us to understand, Justification by faith in Romans 3:21-26.

As we look at the first beatitude (Mathew 5:3). Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. The poor in spirit are those that recognize that they have a need in their lives for God. We can sometimes think that we can do all things and that we have no need for anyone and especially, we have no need for God. This verse is helping us to understand we are poor in our spirit and need God. When we come to this realization in our lives we can be blessed and truly happy as He was teaching through the “Sermon on the Mount.” We can understand in our humility, that we need God and we are not completely self-sufficient and can walk and pursue happiness through faith in Him. This is a different approach to happiness that I hope you can consider and much more than we are accustom to by trying to accomplish through the world gaining vast financial and material wealth. Jesus did not promise a life without any problems, pains or hurt, He shows us how to have peace, be blessed and happy as He teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In my next article we will look at Mathew 5:4, blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Thank you.
Pastor Ken

            [1]. Stephen D. Renn, ed. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publisher, 2005), 121.

            [2]. Walter A. Elwell, ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 1095.

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