Summary: 1st in a 12 week series on the Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Part 1)

When we start a new series, it has been our custom to start with some context, and background, explain some big idea that will serve as a unifying them for the series, and then finally zero-in on the particulars of a certain passage.

I like that approach… and, quite frankly, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it. In just the short life of this church, over the past 18 months we’ve handled some solid series including:

The Book of Ephesians

The Gospel of John

The 7 Deadly Sins & 7 Heavenly Virtues

The Book of Philippians

Jesus in the Old Testament

The Book of Romans

And now we’ll start a twelve-week series on the Sermon on the Mount that will take us right up to Advent.

This morning I’m going to go a bit backwards…

Rather than starting with the big idea, I’m going to start with the detail elements and then in a sort of expanding, concentric circle approach, we’ll end up with a big idea for this series that starts today:

What do these words mean?

What is this passage saying?

What are these Beatitudes?

What is the point of this Sermon on the Mount?

What do these words mean?

Since this is an especially short passage, we can take this opportunity to carefully go word-for-word to make certain we know the meaning of each word.

Sat Down

Not proclamation

Not reading Scripture

Teaching – It was the custom of Rabbis to sit as they taught.


Followers (more than the twelve)

To them he directed his speech, because they followed him for love and learning, while others attended him only for cures.[1]

Not merely the crowds who were there for the show or the free lunch

Teach Them


i. Much of what we read in the Gospels is in the course of living, meeting needs, dialog, Passion Week.

ii. Here, Jesus takes a position of authority and deliberately instructs


Jesus, using a technique common in what we now know as the Old Testament, used this powerful form beginning with this powerful word “Blessed.”

A good example is found in Psalm 1:1

More than just “happy”… but like happy

Total Contentment. The Greeks reserved this word only for the gods or the dead.

Poor in Spirit

No dependence on self

Not bankrupt or corrupt in spirit, poor in spirit.

And not simply poor

i. Spiritual understanding

ii. Frame of mind

this poverty of spirit is a gracious disposition of soul, by which we are emptied of self, in order to our being filled with Jesus Christ. [2]

Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

IS – Not will be

Fullness of Christ

So the poor in spirit are enriched with the fullness of Christ, which is the kingdom in substance; and when He shall say to them from His great white throne, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, ” He will invite them merely to the full enjoyment of an already possessed inheritance. [3]

Kingdom means rule, reign, and authority


Commonly understood to mean either repentance or bereavement

The feeling of spiritual poverty

i. The second beatitude is the compliment of the first

ii. The one is intellectual; the other the emotional aspect of the same thing.


We read “make comfortable”

ðáñáêáëÝù [ parakaleo / par·ak·al· eh ·o /] – Encourage, strengthen, teach, coach


Direct quote of Psalm 37:11

i. Affirming that this Kingdom isn’t an entirely new Kingdom

ii. It is the fulfillment of the old

Greeks used this word to describe a horse that had been broken.

Power under control.

It is a misunderstood word… not weak.

The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to his word and to his rod, who follow his directions, and comply with his designs, and are gentle towards all men ( Tit. 3:2 ); who can bear provocation without being inflamed by it; are either silent, or return a soft answer; and who can show their displeasure when there is occasion for it, without being transported into any indecencies; who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of any thing else. They are the meek, who are rarely and hardly provoked, but quickly and easily pacified; and who would rather forgive twenty injuries than revenge one, having the rule of their own spirits.[4]

Inherit the Earth

Inclusive of the land – Canaan

All things

What is this passage saying?

This short passage of Scripture reminds us to keep ourselves in the proper perspective.

Paul echoed this same sentiment in Romans 12

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.[5]

The philosophers did not reckon humility among their moral virtues, but Christ puts it first… The foundation of all other graces is laid in humility.

Those who would build high must begin low; [6]

What are these Beatitudes?

Blessed = beatus (Latin)… the root of Beatitude

Response to the human condition.

Specifically, in the context of the religion of the period, a response to the Pharisees (Matthew 5:30)

The Pharisees taught that righteousness was an external thing, a matter of obeying rules and regulations. Righteousness could be measured by praying, giving, fasting, etc. In the Beatitudes and the pictures of the believer, Jesus described Christian character that flowed from within. [7]

The Pharisees saw righteousness primarily as an outside in process.

The Beatitudes reveals true righteousness to be an inside out process.

What is the point of this Sermon on the Mount?

Over the centuries, there have been a variety of approaches and applications related to the Sermon on the Mount…

There is a worthwhile consideration embedded in each of these points of view:

Plan of Salvation (rules)

Certain specifics

Incongruent with the teaching of the New Testament

Prescription of Conduct

More of a ruler than a rule


It is a practical discourse; there is not much of the credenda of Christianity in it—the things to be believed, but it is wholly taken up with the agenda—the things to be done;[8]

Emphasis must be on the enjoyment of the Kingdom…

not on earning membership to the Kingdom

Charter for World Peace

Of course these principles apply; but not the primary focus

Eschatological Description of the Future

We cannot discount the “already”

Last Will and Testament

Definitive Teaching on Righteousness (Matthew 5:20)

A good sermon needs a text. Here in The Chapel we endeavor to point to a clear portion of Scripture and expound upon it.

In this case, the master preacher, Jesus, had a text. In this case, the text upon which he then expounds upon in the Sermon on the Mount was his own message recorded in Matthew 4:

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” [9]

Natural questions on the heart of every Jew would have been,

“Am I eligible to enter Messiah’s kingdom?

Am I righteous enough to qualify for entrance?”

The only standard of righteousness the people knew was that laid down by the current religious leaders, the scribes and Pharisees. Would one who followed that standard be acceptable in Messiah’s kingdom?[10]

I believe the Sermon on the Mount is more descriptive than prescriptive.

In today’s vernacular, Jesus might have said:

You’ve heard me say that God’s Kingdom is near….

Do you want to know what God’s Kingdom is like?

Sit down with me and let me teach you.

First of all, the Kingdom isn’t so much about a place; it is about people.

And it certainly isn’t about a castle; it is about a King. God is that King.

The people in the Kingdom are poor in spirit, and they are happy.

They are happy because they are in the Kingdom, both now and forever.

They are happy because they have come to realize that they have nothing that earns them favor; but by God’s grace they are welcomed into the Kingdom.

The people in the Kingdom mourn; and they are happy.

They are happy because they find comfort;

they are happy because they know the Comforter.

They are happy because they are sorrowful for their sin yet find great joy in knowing that their Savior has made a way in spite of their sin.

The people in the Kingdom are gentle; and they are happy.

They are happy because they have all they need; in fact they have everything.

They are happy because they are not merely subjects of the Kingdom;

they are heirs of the Kingdom.

I believe we need to break through the idea that these Beatitudes are mysterious paradoxes… they’re not really. They are wonderful statement of:

Life in the Kingdom

The best I can see, The Sermon on the Mount is about life…

Life in the Kingdom

In this teaching, Jesus is helping us to see that God’s Kingdom is like none other.

We need a perspective that doesn’t come naturally.

We need a Kingdom perspective.

So for you disciple, you believers who love the Lord and are finding your place in the Kingdom, this will be a great series.

Just as they did on that mountain, we’ll sit at the feet of Jesus and drink in the water he has for our minds and souls.

We’ll be stretched, just as the original hearers were stretched.

These descriptions of God’s Kingdom are countercultural… they’re against our human nature. But we’ll learn and grow together.

What if you’re not one of the disciples… one of the believers?

Then I hope you’ve seen something today that you want…

This is worth your pursuit.

You want this Kingdom, now and forever.

You need this Kingdom…

And all you need do to be an heir to this Kingdom is step in.

Repent and believe.

Respond to the conviction you’re already feeling in your heart, turn from your self-centered, self-reliant ways and turn to God.

And believe. Believe that Jesus, God’s own Son, made the way for you.


[1]Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Mt 5:1. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991.

[2]Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Mt 5:3. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991.

[3]Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al.. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary., Mt 5:3-4. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

[4]Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Mt 5:3. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991.

[5]The Holy Bible : New International Version, Ro 12:3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[6]Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Mt 5:3. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991.

[7]Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire ’BE’ series"--Jkt., Mt 5:1. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989.

[8]Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Mt 5:1. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991.

[9]The Holy Bible : New International Version, Mt 4:17. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

[10]Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures, Mt 5:1. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985.