Summary: In the opening of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about eight ways we can experience God's blessing, God's assurance that all will be well despite our feelings in the moment. Some blessings are for now; others for the life ahead. Jesus fulfills all!
What if you could be content no matter how tough life got? What if you could know for certain that things would turn out ok? Jesus says you can, without a doubt. Today I have a sermon on a sermon, in fact the most famous sermon ever preached! Matthew 5-7 contains Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount.” People crowded on the hillside to hear it. Jesus sat down before them, the typical pose of a rabbi about to teach. And Jesus shared what we now call, “The Beatitudes.”
The word “beatitude” means “blessed” in Latin. To be blessed is much more than being happy. It’s to be in a condition where you know you’re okay because God says you are, regardless of your feelings. You have a profound sense of God’s joy and peace. You might feel down, or flat, or up—it doesn’t matter—and still be blessed at the same time. Blessedness is much more than an emotion; it is a certainty that God will take care of you, that ultimately things will turn out well.
Jesus shares some blessings available now and some reserved for the life to come. For instance, his first and last beatitudes serve as bookends with an immediate blessing: “Theirs ‘is’ the kingdom of heaven.” It’s already unfolding! And then all the other beatitudes in the middle carry a future promise, that one “will’ be comforted, for instance. Some promises we have to wait for, until God brings in his new heaven and new earth. But others are ours right now, as we follow God.
Blessed are the spiritually humble, the sorrowful, the patient, those spiritually hungry for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for doing right. Let’s unpack each of these. First, Jesus says, blessed are the ...
1. POOR IN SPIRIT. These are people who are desperate for God. They recognize their great need for his Spirit and can’t get enough. This is the lady so broken over her sin that she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:37-38). It’s the tax collector who beats his chest, praying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
Jesus promises those who are poor in spirit already have the kingdom of heaven. If you know you are desperate for God, that you are spiritually bankrupt without him, you’re there. You have arrived. As Jesus would say, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” You are living in the kingdom as you are desperate for God to come through. Be blessed, as you recognize your utter dependence on the only one who can save you, who can give you strength and endurance and purpose and unconditional love. If you yearn for God above all else, you’ve got the kingdom of heaven. It’s yours! Next, Jesus tells us, blessed are ...
2. THOSE WHO MOURN, those who grieve the loss of someone or something. Jesus promises comfort. I know some of you live this out as you walk without your mate at your side anymore. You didn’t know how you would survive, but you did, one day at a time, with God’s help. I could reflect on so many here, but I remember Bill Harris looking helplessly at his dear wife of 50 plus years in the ICU and turning to me and saying, “Pastor, this is tougher than being a fighter pilot in Vietnam!” Yes it is, but God will bring comfort.