The Beatitudes-Part 1
Teaching about kingdom attributes, Jesus showed that true righteousness goes beyond the superficial teachings of the Pharisees.
• Last week I spent a great deal of time setting up the background for this series.
• Understanding the backdrop from which the Sermon on the Mount was delivered will help us to understand why this sermon was so revolutionary, why the Sermon on the Mount has the potential to turn your work upside down!
• The religious leaders, by their example, taught the people that to be righteous before God, all you need to do is to look good on the outside by following the rules they added to God’s original ten.
• The question at hand for many was something akin to, HOW CAN I PLEASE GOD? WHAT IS PLEASING TO GOD? The people wanted the answer to these questions because they wanted to be blessed by God!
• The religious leaders answered that question by example, look good on the outside, follow their rules.
• Jesus nailed them to the wall over that attitude time and time again.
• Last week we saw that Jesu told the crowd that if their righteousness did not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, they would not enter the kingdom of God!
• In the section of Jesus’ sermon, many call the BEATITUDES, Jesus will begin to unravel the mystery of how one’s righteousness can exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
• Theologian D. A. Carson explains, “The word ‘beatitude’ is a rough transliteration of the Latin beatus.
• ‘Beatitude’ is a transliteration of a foreign word which can best be translated ‘blessed'” (D. A. Carson, Jesus’s Sermon the Mount and His Confrontation with the World [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018], 19).
• In the Sermon on the Mount, there is a logical progression that Jesus follows.
• He has shocked the crowd with His statement concerning the Pharisees; now, He will go right to the heart of the problem.
• Over the next two weeks, we will examine the teaching of the Beatitudes, instructions that are so simple, yet so difficult to grasp because they run contrary to what we are taught.
• The BIG IDEA for today is, teaching about kingdom attributes, Jesus showed that true righteousness goes beyond the superficial teachings of the Pharisees.
Matthew 5:3 (CSB)
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
1. I. The virtuous spirit.
• Matthew 5:3 (CSB) — 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
• This first Beatitude had to hit the people like a camel bus.
• Part of the shock to the listeners of what Jesus would preach is the fact that most of the beatitudes are paradoxical, the reverse of what the world teaches. This one was no different.
• First off, NO ONE wants to be poor, yet many were. The Religious leaders were far from poor.
• Some have used this verse as a proof-text to advocate for becoming poor.
• In simple terms, a proof text is taking a passage out of context to make a point that, based on the use of the passage, is not valid.
• In fairness to those who would try to use this verse to advocate for making oneself poor, the word POOR here has the meaning of begging, destitute, and with want (Ernst Bammel, “?t????, ?t??e?a, ?t??e??,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 886).
• What is Jesus telling us?
• Jesus applies this begging to the spiritual state of the believer: there remains in us a state of spiritual inadequacy, extreme poverty, and the ability to commit any sin.
• Just because we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, it doesn’t mean we have the ability to be perfect on this earth.
• Those poor in spirit are not those who lack courage and enthusiasm, but those who are spiritually bankrupt and utterly dependent upon God for daily living.
• How is this achieved? By only comparing ourselves to God. He is the measuring stick.
• To not feel this, poverty is not to understand who God is.
• Poverty of spirit is placed first by Jesus on purpose.
• There is a large mountain to scale, and the first thing we must realize is that we cannot do it on our own.
• If we can’t grasp the first Beatitude, then there is no point in moving on; we won’t be able to keep the ethics, attitudes, and behaviors in the rest of the sermon.
• How do we know if we understand it? Do you get amazed at God’s grace for you? Are you aware of your sinfulness? Are you aware of your continual need for God?
• The religious leaders lost this attitude; they did not see themselves as spiritually bankrupt; they saw themselves as wealthy spiritually.
• They saw themselves as the best of the best, and the rest were nothing but sinners in their eyes.
• Jesus wants the people to know that an arrogant spirit will get you nowhere with God.
• The fundamental idea through all the Beatitudes is the fact that Gods’ approval is on such a person.
• The word BLESSED can be translated HAPPY; however, blessed has a more profound spiritual connotation than does happy.
• Jesus promises not only happiness but eternal blessings. The world’s formula for happiness usually the opposite of what Jesus teaches.
• When we have a view of ourselves that tells us we do not need God, we do not need Jesus; we are in trouble.
• In the book of Revelation, we find the church at Laodicea lacked this attitude. They thought they had it all, but they had nothing,
• Jesus says that for the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
• In Luke 18:9-14, we have the story of a Pharisee and a tax collector who went to the temple to pray.
• The Pharisee was so full of himself that he said, thank God I am not like the other sinners and that I am not like this tax collector.
• Here is what the tax collector said in Luke 18:13-14.
Luke 18:13-14 (CSB)
13“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!?’
14I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
• Being poor in spirit is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom.
• The spirit that will please God is one that realizes the need for Him!
Matthew 5:4 (CSB)
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
2. II. The virtuous heart.
• This next beatitude is closely linked to the first. When we realize how spiritually depleted we are, it will lead us to mourn that bankruptcy.
• The tax collector in Luke KNEW his condition, and he was saddened by it.
• When we THINK we have it all together, we do what the Pharisee did; we try to compare ourselves to other people instead of God.
• We do this to justify our spiritual bankruptcy, thinking that pointing the finger at another will take the heat off of me!
• So our spiritual poverty leads us to mourn. We mourn over our sins; we mourn over how it hurts God to see us do such things.
• The mourn means to lament over the death of someone (Rudolf Bultmann, “??????, ?e????,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 41).
• Instead of mourning over the death of some, the same attitude should be applied to our sinfulness. Similar to the first attitude, except here, we are to feel a sense of mourning when we sin.
• The term mourn also recalls the language of Isaiah 61:2: “to comfort all who mourn.”
• In the context of Isaiah 61, mourning is based on the fact that “the righteous suffer, because the wicked prosper and because God has not yet acted to reverse the situation.” Chouinard, L. (1997). Matthew (Mt 5:4). Joplin, MO: College Press.
• Jesus tells us that when we mourn over our sins, we will be comforted.
• The word COMFORT means to come alongside. Jesus will be at your side, holding your hand as you face your issues.
• A person doesn’t enter the kingdom just because they are sorry for their sins. They need to be broken to the point of mourning for them. God will comfort them.
• Those who mourn over their lost condition have a possibility of being comforted.
• When you realize how lost you are, Jesus will bring comfort and lead you home; I remember when I was baptized onto Jesus how it changed my life.
• The change did not happen overnight, I was hardheaded, so it took some time, but I have NEVER regretting two things, marrying my wife and giving my life to Jesus!
• The heart that pleases God is one that is saddened by their sins. God will lift you up!
Matthew 5:5 (CSB)
5Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.
3. III. The virtuous attitude.
• I bet when Jesus stated this Beatitude, the folks were sheepishly looking over at the religious leaders!
• I sense they were missing a little humility.
• When a person acts like they are God’s gift to God, there is a problem!
• The attitude of being humble is not a sign of a weak person!
• The word humble means to be gentle, friendly, mild, and pleasant. In some versions, the word is translated as meek, which makes the word sound weak.
• Humility does not infer cowardice or weakness, however.
• Jesus calls himself humble in Matthew 11:29, and He certainly was not a coward or weak.
• Moses was referred to as the most humble man ever to have lived (Numbers 12:3), yet he stood boldly before Pharaoh.
• How, then, should we apply this?
• We are to be kind and passionate like Christ and Moses but certainly not abrasive in our attitude.
• Keeping this in context, we continue to realize that it is only through Christ that we can genuinely be friendly and mild. Look at the promise.
• The promise is that the humble will “inherit the earth.”
• Secular people (and too many Christians who are affected by worldly mindsets) feel they can only inherit the earth through power.
• Christ once again flips the thinking and says we inherit, ultimately, by trust and submission to him.
• The promise of inheriting the earth has its roots in the Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gen 12:7; 22:17), and originally referred to the land of Palestine.
• Jewish eschatological (end times) hopes ultimately expanded the promise to envision a radically renewed earth where God would reign over all the nations (Isa 57:13; 60:21; 65:17; 66:22; cf. Matt 8:11; 19:28).
• The phrase INHERITING the EARTH is another way of saying that if you are humble, you will enter the kingdom!
• The only difference between inheriting the earth and possessing the kingdom of God is the temporal perspective of the promise.
• Ultimately, the humble will receive the long-awaited inheritance, not by their own power, but by the gracious gift of God through the shed blood of Jesus!
Matthew 5:6 (CSB)
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
4. IV. The virtuous pursuit.
• What should we spend our life on earth pursuing?
• What should those who want to please God pursue in life?
• We need to pursue righteousness.
• Jesus struck a chord with His listeners. Many of them knew the daily struggle to find food and water.
• Think about how difficult it would be today if you had to hunt for all your food. Where do you hunt tacos?
• When we realize that we are spiritually bankrupt, the way we fill that bank account back up is to hunger and thirst for righteousness!
• Have you ever been so hungry that you did not know if you were going to get another meal?
• Imagine the passion at which you would go after finding food and drink.
• Most Americans don’t understand the desperation of hunger and thirst.
• Tony Hall, a former ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, undertook a three-week fast to better understand and bring awareness to the hungry experience.
• He discovered that his worst hunger occurred in his first week of the fast.
• Later, his body grew ambivalent to food; this suggests we must regularly expose ourselves to God’s righteousness if we don’t want our hunger to grow numb (“What Does Long Term Hunger Feel Like?,” Hunger Notes, accessed December 15, 2018, https://www.worldhunger.org/hunger-quiz/what-does-long-term-hunger-feel-like/).
• Real hunger and thirst eat away at a person.
• It is an all-consuming passion and desire for God’s righteousness.
• Not a righteousness to save, but a righteousness in doing God’s will and trying to please him in our hearts.
• In the context of the message, when a person realizes their spiritual poverty, they mourn over their lost condition. They are hungry for help.
• This need causes them to hunger and thirst for righteousness, leading them on the hunt!
• Have you ever dealt with a person who is a know-it-all, who is so full of themselves that it makes you ill?
• Is it fun to deal with those types of people?
• When you consider this first part of the Beatitudes, imagine if folks were more in line with verses 3-6? The world would be a better place!
• Our application for today is…
• We can immediately begin to apply kingdom attitudes such as true happiness through being poor in spirit, mourning, being meek, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness.