Summary: The Beattitudes present eight steps to mature Christian living. Jesus gives us four internals and four externals that lead to strength and joy.
Attitudes that Please God
Someone has called Matthew 5:1-12 the “Be” attitudes of the Faith. What’s your attitude toward God? Jesus lists several attitudes here in the first part of the Sermon on the Mount that challenge us all. Actually, they show the way to spiritual maturity in 8 steps. Four are internal and preparational and four are external and expressional. Let’s look at these together and hear the voice of our Lord speaking to our hearts and minds, calling us to his own attitude. Calling us to hold his attitudes and practice them in our lives.
Mat 5:1 And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
2 And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
I love the way Matthew begins this. Jesus, the word of God is about to speak to us. Notice the compact detail here. He sees the multitudes, he goes up, sits down, gathers the disciples and then Matthew gets very specific. Jesus opens his mouth. Right. What’s the point? Matthew’s formality here depicts Jesus as preparing to proclaim an oracle. Some translations cut out the formality here and just say “he began to teach them, saying.” NIV does this. I believe that is a mistake. Matthew intentionally drags out the details here in a three-fold introduction. Jesus opens his mouth, he teaches them, he is saying. Matthew could have simply put it, “Jesus said.” But what follows is so important that Matthew doesn’t want you to get there unprepared. So let’s prepare ourselves for these words of our Master. Open your hearts and minds. Receive the lessons taught. Listen carefully to what Jesus says. Blessed… 9 times Jesus uses this word. It means one who has received a gift or favor from God. We are not just talking about “happy.” Blessed is the opposite of cursed. One is a favor the other is a punishment.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Who are these? People who recognize their own poverty spiritually are blessed by God. This is the first step into the light of truth. It is the first step of recognizing our condition before God. To be poor in spirit is more than to be humble, it is like comparing myself to the perfection of Jesus and seeing the truth and accepting it as truth. I not only do not measure up, but I am like a miserable beggar standing by a King. Remember the story of the publican and the Pharisee Jesus told about who were going up to pray? One bragged on himself before God. One wouldn’t even look up, but begged, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner!” Which one was poor in spirit in his own eyes? Which received God’s blessing?
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus will begin and end these eight steps talking about the kingdom of heaven. But the person who recognizes his spiritual poverty can’t stop there. This is only the launch pad for abundant blessings from God.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. After recognizing my spiritual condition, it ought to bring me grief. Have you ever known someone who was deep into sin and knew it, but wasn’t sorry about it at all? One who is honest about their spiritual poverty but who is not moved to godly sorrow can’t know God’s grace. You can’t see yourself as a sinner and look by faith at Jesus suffering on the cross for our sins not be moved to mourn. But there is comfort in Christ for the man who mourns because of his sin. In fact, this very attitude leads directly into the next.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. This word meek is translated gentle, submissive and humble in other places. Follow Jesus on this. A person sees his spiritual poverty, he grieves over it, and comes in meekness before God, willing to submit to God’s will and way. Jesus said God will give the whole world to people like that. All through the Bible God sees the proud and takes their stuff away and gives it to the meek who love him. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble. And then next Jesus says,
“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Again this naturally follows the meek person who comes to God in submission and now develops a spiritual hunger and thirst for what is right in God’s sight. Righteousness. Jesus says, they will be filled. Have you noticed that nothing in this world truly satisfies. This world is full of promises that it can’t keep. It pacifies, but it never satisfies. But Jesus pronounces God’s blessing to satisfy us. Only when you have a heavenly appetite can you find full satisfaction. With this we complete the internal attitudes. Notice how these now are applied in the life of one who follows after these blessings. Next we look at four externals that Jesus pronounces God’s blessing on.