Today we’re going to begin a series called Blessed – taking us into the Easter season. We’ll be looking at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5: 1-12, called the Beatitudes. And this word is derived from a Latin word which means blessed or happy.
Before we look specifically at the first two statements of Jesus, we need to put into context what was happening. Jesus has recently come back from his 40 days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness and has begun His earthly ministry. He’s performing miracles – healing the sick – and crowds are beginning to gather bringing their friends and family members who were in need of healing.
Now, when He notices the magnitude of the crowd coming for His healing services, He heads up onto a mountainside to get away.
Notice who came to Him – who went searching for Him – His disciples. And to pull a Big Idea from the narrative alone is this: Disciples follow Jesus no matter where He goes.
Also, notice who He taught – His disciples. And so another Big Idea to pull from this is: Jesus teaches those who seek after Him.
Those in the crowd only coming for the show – coming only for Jesus to perform a miracle – were not going to spiritually hear what Jesus was teaching. A Band-aide healing was not going to give them what they needed to know about the Kingdom of God. A Band-aide healing would only provide them with temporary relief from the pain they were suffering now, only to lead to the pain of death in their future. And death without knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven only leads to eternal torment and pain.
If they wanted to know about the Kingdom, they needed to seek Jesus to find out more about the Kingdom. An interesting fact that you see in Jesus’ ministry is that He taught those who sought out Him – Remember Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7: 7)
Now, there’s a parallel here between the mountainside in these verses and the mountainside experience Moses had. In fact, it has always interested me to see the parallels of the Israelite nation in the OT and the facts recorded about Jesus in the NT. For example, Egypt was the saving place for both the Israelite nation and the baby Jesus. The Israelite nation prospered and was saved from starvation and ruin by escaping to Egypt during the 7 years of famine. Jesus as a babe was taken to Egypt by Mary and Joseph to be saved from Herod’s decree that all male boys 2 and younger were to be killed. Another example was the wandering in the desert. Israel, after being delivered from slavery in Egypt, wandered in the desert for 40 years before being permitted to enter into the Promised Land. Jesus, after being baptized by John the Baptist, began His earthly ministry by wandering in the desert for 40 days of fasting and prayer. And the initial example of the mountainside was the beginning of God’s word being declared. Moses came down from being in the presence of God on Mount Sinai to present to the Israelites the Law (the 10 commandments) given to them by God to guide them in their faith journey. Jesus goes on the side of a mountain to begin His teachings on the Kingdom of God.
Jesus begins His teachings with the Blessed teachings because they exemplified who He was and what God desires of those He will invite to be with Him in His Kingdom. Where the Law exposed man’s need for a Savior due to man’s shortcomings, the Beatitudes reveal the Spirit that can and should be within those who call upon the name of the Savior. Versus providing a bunch of do’s and don’ts, Jesus provides those listening to His sermon a glimpse of how He would carry Himself here on earth and a picture of who His disciples should become.
We’re going to look at the first two today – “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” and “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
So who is Jesus referring to? Understand it’s not those who already have these characteristics. Rather it is those who will take on these characteristics due to their understanding of Jesus.
Jesus was speaking of Heavenly traits that He desires to see in all who call upon His name as Savior. When it comes down to it, these Beatitudes will be the criteria God uses to judge a person’s soul.
If you notice, just like the 10 Commandments show the boundaries we are to have with God and with others, the Beatitudes go deeper in showing us that the boundaries are nice, but not needed, if we will take to heart what God desire to see in our hearts.
Now getting back to the 1stBeatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
What is Jesus talking about here? He’s talking about those who have humility. He could have said, “Blessed are the humble, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Humility is realizing that all you are and all you have is a gift from God. To be poor in spirit means that a person is completely empty of self and open to the Word of God.
For example, “You should not steal” (Deut 5: 19), is a rule, a boundary, that keeps me from harming you by taking from you what is not mine, but “Blessed are the poor in spirit….”is an attitude within my heart, soul, and mind that reminds me that I should place you above myself, which allows me the freedom to respect you and your property. If “Blessed are the poor in spirit….”is within me, then no one need fear that I steal.
God is looking to find in us what David shared in his Psalm – Psalm 51 verses 10 & 17.
Verse 10 – “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast (a right) spirit within me.”