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.