Summary: I would like to answer these questions: • What are the beatitudes? • Do they spell out conditions we must meet in order to inherit eternal life?
The Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount)
I would like to answer these questions:
• What are the beatitudes?
• Do they spell out conditions we must meet in order to inherit eternal life?
(v.1-2) Who is Jesus preaching to?
• His disciples
• Crowds (7:28)
- So it is clear that the crowds were listening and that Jesus wanted them to listen even though the sermon is primarily addressed to professing disciples.
- Let me mention that this is the way our Sunday services are structured here at Indian Rocks. Primarily the word is prepared to feed, strengthen, and inspire the worship and life of God’s people. But we pray that that there will be curious onlookers, skeptics, searchers, and doubters will come as well just as the crowds did at the Sermon on the Mount. (Power of the authoritative word of God)
- I want to give a brief overview of the beatitudes as a whole and then we will look at each one individually.
- Each beatitude has a promise attached to the end.
- Notice that the 1st(v.3) and the 8th(v.10) have a similar promise.
- Notice that the ones sandwiched in between all have different promises. Also notice that they all are promises for the future. “They shall be comforted…They shall inherit the earth…They shall be satisfied” and so on.
- But the promise of the 1st and the last seem to relate to the present: The disciples are assured that “theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”
- What do you think the meaning of this pattern is?
- From the fat that the first and the last are present tense, but the middle six are future tense, the implication is that the kingdom of Heaven is present with the disciples now, but that the full blessings of the kingdom will have to wait for the age to come.
- Another way to put it is that Jesus brought the kingdom of Heaven to earth and we can enjoy foretastes of it now, but the full experience of the kingdom will have to wait for the age to come.
- This is a big deal for then and now.
- Then: The disciples and the people were looking for a physical deliverance from the Roman Empire, but Jesus was saying that there was a future deliverance.
- Now: Many times people get say a prayer to get saved, but their life never changes. They are only looking forward to the future promise. They have their ticket into heaven (or at least think they do) and we should be looking forward to the future promise, but Jesus also gives us present promises and purpose.
- For example: v.7 promises, “They shall obtain mercy” (future tense). But in the parable in 18:23-35 the king says to the servant, “And should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”
- In other words, Jesus teaches us that we do not merely wait for the age to come to receive mercy. It has come in Jesus. We taste it now in forgiveness of sins and so on.
- Consider v.9. It promises, “They shall be called the sons of God.” But look at v.16, “Let your line shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven.” God is already our Father. We are already sons and daughters. We have a foretaste of what is still to come.
Disciple / Crowd
- The disciples are at Jesus’ feet and hear these words as congratulations. The disciples are able to hear these beatitudes, celebrate, and rejoice about the work of God in their lives.
- But, what about the crowds? How do they hear these words?
- If you see people being welcomed into a feast with a certain garment on, don’t the words of welcome stir you up to go get a garment like that? If you see people being promised the blessings of eternal life because they are poor in spirit and meek, and pure, peaceable, and so on, doesn’t this make you want to become this type of person?
- So the beatitudes are words of celebration for the disciples. And the beatitudes are words of invitation for the crowds, the people who come to worship out of tradition, curiosity, or skepticism. What are they for you?
(v.3-4) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Christianity as a crutch
- Some time ago when I was debating with my brother (big skeptic), he asked me the question, “Isn’t Christianity a crutch for people who can’t make it on their own?”
- He was extremely surprised at my simple answer…Yes.