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Summary: Jesus was a teacher, a fantastic, yes PERFECT teacher. He begins by teaching his disciples the beatitudes...

The beatitudes…part 1 – February 21, 2010

I’d like to do something a little different this morning. Today, rather than stand and preach, I would like to sit, and teach. In Jesus’ day, it was the custom for teachers in the synagogue to sit while they taught from the scriptures. The synagogues in that day were in every town that had at least 10 men living there. If that many, or more lived in a town, they would construct a building, out of stone, that faced Jerusalem, and in that synagogue (trans. House of instruction) the old testament scriptures were read and interpreted by a teacher who could do just that, explain the meaning of the teachings of the law, the prophets, and of course, the history of the Israelites. (John McArthur, ministry in the synagogues, http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/42-53.htm)

And the customary way was to sit, so today, I’m going to give this a try. You are sitting, so I will sit; hopefully we’ll all feel more comfortable this way…

Jesus is getting to be popular. If we were to follow all of His movements and teachings we would see that Jesus has done a fair bit of travelling already in these early days of His ministry. He has gone from Nazareth (hometown) to Cana (for the wedding, where He turned water into wine). He has gathered disciples and apostles. He has been to Capernaum, teaching there for sometime. He has been to Jerusalem where he drove the sellers out of the temple with a whip; Jesus was zealous for the house of God. He has healed many of all kinds of diseases. And He has driven out evil or unclean spirits from dozens of people. We’ll talk more about that soon. What I want us to realize is that people are hearing about this new rabbi in the area, this one who speaks with his own authority. This ‘man’ who performs miracles. Word is spreading, and throngs of people are following Jesus wherever He goes.

But in the midst of all this popularity, Jesus wants to teach his disciples. Jesus came to this earth to do some specific things. He came first and foremost as the One who would die for our sin so that we might be restored to the Father and gain eternal life. He came to fulfill the law and the prophets, all the things spoken about Him for centuries before He arrived in Bethlehem, born of a virgin, the Son of the Living God. He came to show us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like, and how we should repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.

But the one thing that Jesus came for and about which there is more written about in all the gospels, is to teach, to preach, and make disciples who would go and teach and preach the things that Jesus taught them; that the gospel would reach all nations, all people, in all places from one small nation on earth to every nation. Jesus was a teacher.

And because he wanted to teach his disciples he needed to get away from the crowds and focus on his close followers for a little while and give them some instruction on what it means to be a follower of Christ, a Christian. Let’s turn in our bibles to Matthew 5, verses 1-12 and listen to some of the first teachings given by the greatest teacher of all time…

Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)

The Beatitudes

1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:

3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The word ‘beatitudes’ comes from the Latin word beatus, which can be translated as happy or blessed. But the more I’ve read this and some commentaries on this passage, I understand it as not a ‘blissful joy’ like ‘I’m HAPPY!’ but rather a feeling of inner joy, completeness, a peace with God and a peace within myself. After all who would be just plain ‘happy’ to be poor in spirit, sad and meek?

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