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Summary: Part 2 of a 14-part series on "The Christian Character," popularly known as Jesus' sermon on the mount in Galilee. This part examines the first of the beatitudes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Sermon on the Mount

The Christian Character

Matthew 5:3 - 7:27

(Cf. Luke 6:20-49)

Part 2 – Beatitudes – the poor in spirit

This is Part 2 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside as he delivered what is more familiarly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.”

The 14 parts are as follows:

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Beatitudes – the poor in spirit

Part 3 - Beatitudes – those who mourn

Part 4 - Beatitudes – the meek, and those who hunger and thirst

Part 5 - Beatitudes – the merciful and the pure in heart

Part 6 - Beatitudes – peacemakers

Part 7 - Beatitudes – the persecuted and insulted

Part 8 - Salt of the earth and light of the world

Part 9 - Righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees; divorce, oaths

Part 10 - Eye for eye, loving neighbor and hating enemy, being perfect

Part 11 - Three things to do, not to be seen by men and a model prayer

Part 12 - Laying up treasures, eye is the lamp of the body, serving two masters

Part 13 - Do not judge, do not give what is holy to dogs and pigs

Part 14 - Ask, seek, and knock; the narrow gate; false prophets; building on the rock

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Part 2 – Beatitudes – the poor in spirit

Review

Last week we began this series on Jesus’ sermon on the mount with an introduction to the sermon and some broad observations about its context and content. We saw that the first thing listed by the prophet (Isaiah) in his statement of Jesus’ mission was that Jesus was anointed by the Spirit to preach the gospel of the kingdom. In Luke 4 Jesus himself quoted that passage from Isaiah 61 while speaking in the synagogue in his hometown, Nazareth. He followed that reading by saying that he was the one who would do those things Isaiah prophesied. In the sermon on the mount, we find Jesus doing exactly that – preaching the gospel – in the preamble to the sermon on the mount (Matthew 24:23-25).

Jesus was anointed to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Last week we concluded that – although the good news of salvation had not been fully inaugurated, and the kingdom in its present form did not appear until weeks after Jesus ascended to heaven - the teaching in this sermon is part and parcel with the gospel as we commonly use that word.

There is a discourse (or sermon) in Luke 6: 20-49 that has some similarities to Matthew 5-7, but I believe that is another occasion, not a separate account of this one, for reasons I explained then.

I mentioned that Jesus’ teaching – here and elsewhere – penetrates directly to the innermost person, rather than what we may present to others as evidence of the goodness we want them to see. The human heart is the fountainhead of our actions. Jesus wants our hearts right so that which flows from it will be pure and true, not pretended.

I said that the teachings of Jesus in this sermon, form the nucleus of all Jesus’ teachings and in fact, the bible…

…and that in turn, the beatitudes form the nucleus of this sermon. There are threads that tie the teachings throughout the sermon to the beatitudes. We will point out some of these connections as we go along in the series.

The beatitudes present a value system that is completely upside down from natural human impulses. Some examples are:

Matt 5:3 – If I am poor (not rich) in spirit, I am blessed.

V4 - If I mourn, I am blessed.

V10 – If I am persecuted for righteousness’ sake, I am blessed.

V11 – If people insult me and say false things about me, I am blessed.

End of review

THE BEATITUDES

A beatitude begins by saying someone in a certain condition is blessed, and specifies why or in what way the blessing occurs. Blessedness is not something we produce by effort, or by simply saying “Let’s all be happy.” Blessedness is the product of the “be” state described in the beatitudes. Happiness, joy, and being right with God are all on the same road as blessedness.

Jesus begins the sermon with the first beatitude.

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

“Poor” from the word in the original language is defined by Strong as a beggar, who relies chiefly or exclusively on charitable donations to live. In literal terms, that’s not the kind of life we would usually chart for ourselves.

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