Summary: The Beatitudes paint a counter-culture picture of the character of a Christian. Blessing is found in poverty of spirit, and in mourning. Doesn’t seem possible, but it’s a truth that Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount.
Here we go. The Sermon on the Mount covers three chapters in the book of Matthew. Chapters five through seven. In chapter five Jesus teaches us about the? Law of God. Chapter six is about living in the? Presence of God. And Chapter seven will walk us through the? Judgment of God.
But Jesus starts off with sort of a pre-amble to the sermon known as the Beatitudes. And the beatitudes are NOT about? Conduct. They are about? Character. As we described them last week. They are 8 beautiful flowers in the “garden of our heart” that God wants to see fully blossom in our lives. That inner essence and being which drives our conduct. So these flowers must be carefully and continually cultivated within our heart garden.
And the first blossom that Christ spoke of came from His famous words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
If we were going to give a snapshot thought to what we looked at last week in this idea of being poor in spirit, it was not physical poverty. It was not a personality that is timid, shy, quiet, or even just naturally humble. It is not suppressing the being that God created us as so that the world can see us glory in being poor in spirit.
No, if we are going to summarize what it means to be poor in spirit, I believe, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed, John Wesley believed, that what Jesus was referring to is that spirit that rules our hearts when we see our helplessness in the face of God’s holiness. Seeing our helplessness in the face of God’s holiness.
This is an issue of our attitude towards ourselves. Recognizing our spiritual poverty, aside from the grace of God. Being willing to come to a place in our lives when we can look in the mirror, see the image of Christ, and say, “Apart from you I am helpless and hopeless.” That is what it means to be poor in spirit.
So. . .(recite Matthew 5:1-4)
As of yet in our series, we have not tackled this word “Blessed”. It comes from the Greek adjective makareos. It is used here in the beatitudes, in Luke chapter 6, a parallel passage to the sermon on the mount, and actually rather frequently throughout Luke’s gospel. And I wish I could give you some intense, in depth explanation of this word which shows off all of my wisdom and knowledge, but really the only other definition to give you for it is. . .happy. Happy.
Jesus is very literally saying, “Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Let’s face it. The world would have to find such statements, utterly ridiculous. Happy are those who mourn? Say what? Not only would they suggest that it is some form of philosophical oxy-moron. They would even go so far as to suggest that it is just plain moronic. Because the philosophy of the modern world, and largely the modern church is not to embrace mourning, it is to forget about it. Turn your back on it. Ignore it. Don’t dwell on your troubles. Don’t worry. Be happy!
But Jesus says, the ones who are truly happy, are those who mourn. And if you turn over to that parallel passage in Luke chapter 6, you will see it presented in an even more striking fashion.
Luke 6:25 reads, “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
Now, before we get in too deep, we need to be sure we place these beatitudes in the context that Jesus is giving them rather than the context which we have so often heard them quoted or even taught in the past. You will remember last week that we suggested and attempted to establish that when Jesus spoke of the poor, He was not referring to the financially poor. Rather, there was an entirely spiritual meaning to Jesus teaching. Because again, the beatitudes are about character, not conduct.
Likewise, what Jesus is talking about here, “Blessed [or happy] or those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” is a spiritual teaching. And if we think of it from a fairly Biblical and logical standpoint, we will see why.
If not spiritual. If simply mourning. If simply experiencing the pain of loss. If simply experiencing the agony and sorrow of wailing and lamenting is the condition for being comforted. Then comfort awaits many who have never turned their hearts towards God.
Many drunk drivers experience an earthly mourning after killing an innocent family, but never repent of their sins and they die uncomforted. Many gang members will show up at a funeral of a fellow gang banger and wail and lament their loss, but never turn from their sinful ways and they die uncomforted.