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Summary: sermon on the beatitudes

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The Beatitudes: Blessings for Believers

Matthew 5:1-16

5/18/97

Intro: In one "Peanuts" comic strip, Linus and Charlie Brown are sitting and talking about their plans when they grow up. Linus says, "when I get big, I’m going to be a humble little country doctor. I’ll live in the city, see, and every morning I’ll get up, climb into my sports car and zoom into the country. Then I’ll start healing people. I’ll heal everybody for miles around." And he then concludes the speech by saying, "I’ll be a world-famous humble little country doctor."

It’s easy to laugh at the misplaced ideas of Linus. But how many of us here today have wrong ideas of where our priorities really are to be. Jesus gives us a little taste of what re really should be like as we look this morning at Matthew 5. If you have your bible, turn with me there. Actually, we’ll start reading at 4:23.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

This is a passage that we call the beatitudes: the BE - attitudes, or as Robert Schuller calls them the Be Happy attitudes. This is not a simple way to be happy. Rather the happiness comes upon us as we fashion our life after these qualities. This passage is called the Sermon on the Mount. In this lengthy discourse that Jesus gives, we can find many things that go against the grain. But as we look at the deeper truths, we find that his teaching is always right.

At the end of chapter 4, we see Jesus comes preaching about a coming kingdom. He preaches this to a people who are enslaved and in bondage in their own country. The Jews had a heritage of being God’s people. God led them to the promised land. Their sin left them in captivity. Eventually they came back to their land, only to be later taken over by the Roman armies. Jesus comes, sparking their hopes of a Messiah, one who would set up a kingdom and rule in righteousness. You can imagine the excitement of the people. Jesus demonstrates his power by all of the healing he does. Yet, when he sits down to teach the people about what it means to be part of his kingdom, it is something totally different than what they had expected. Jesus talks about inward qualities of life!

Jesus is not here giving us a list of things to do to be happy; rather he is telling us what the truly happy and blessed people will be like. Let’s look at them.

1. Poor in spirit - this is not just talking about the poor, but about the poor in spirit. In many ways, it is much easier to be poor in spirit if you are poor. Jesus is here talking about those who because of financial and economic factors can have confidence only in God. There are those who are poor because of self-made choices. Consider the prodigal son. Yet, his poverty drove him back to the Father. God always tries to bring us to repentance, but when that fails, he brings his punishment to bring us back. Wednesday nights we are studying the book of Isaiah. We see the nation of Israel, falling into idolatry. the prophets called them to repent. They did not, so God sent them into captivity so they would turn from their sin.

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