Summary: We go there some times in times of desperation, sometimes just because we do, maybe the ememy whispers doubts into our ear, but we go there, believe see and hear what the Lord is doing, and be blessed as you remain in him!
The Beatitudes wrap up, the Baptist doubts!
Blessings, what a wonderful thing it is to receive a blessing!
Over the last couple of months we have looked through the beatitudes those blessings that Jesus talked about, we looked at the whole way in which he talked about these beatitudes, which are about the blessings that were and are received by those who acted in a certain way.
This is not about the people’s attitudes but who the people are and the way they act and the blessings that result from who they are.
The word beatitude comes from the Latin word for blessed which is beatus. The Greek means; ‘receiving God’s favour, being in a position of favour, happy feelings associated with being in God’s favour, being fortunate. So, from the Greek: these blessings are not about, physical stuff, again this is related to the spiritual, about receiving God’s favor and it can though be about good feels associated with receiving God’s favor.’
There is the pointer at the start of the beatitudes about who Jesus is, when the words “And opening his mouth he began to teach them, saying…” This term ‘he opened his mouth’ was a fairly well used Hebrew saying and crops up quite a bit in the Old Testament in situations where something with a bit of substance was to follow.
An example of this is from Psalm 78:2 and this is quite important, this Psalm is referred to in Matthews gospel in reference to Jesus teaching all those years later, this Psalm is prophetic, it’s written by and in the style of a wisdom writer about God. It says this, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from old”. If we look at Matthew 13:35 after Jesus had told the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast we read, “So it was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world. “
So looking at the beatitudes that follow we see that:
• To be blessed because you are spiritually poor requires an acknowledgement that you are spiritually poor
• If you mourn your sinful actions then you will be comforted
• Meekness is a strength that is worth possessing
• If a right relationship with God is what drives you this is what you will get.
• Mercy is an active thing, it is something that is practiced
• The pure in heart will see God
• Peacemaking is an active role
As you know the remaining beatitude is about those who were to be persecuted because of their faith in Jesus. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-13)
There’s a case of persecution going on at present: A pastor could be executed if he refuses to give up his faith. Rev Yousef Nadarkhani has twice refused to recant his Christian faith during two court hearings in the last week. It appears that Pastor Yousef may be executed in the following week for apostasy or abandonment of his previous faith, though he had never practiced it as an adult. Please remember pastor Yousef in your prayers. Pray also for those in power in his country.
As you will know in the history of Christianity there has been ample persecution, Christians refusing to worship the roman emperor were executed, often used as a means of entertainment first, and throughout the ages persecution has continued. There has also been persecution of one Christian by another or of others who were not believers, please remember none of this was the actions of God, but the foolishness of men.
In New Zealand today there is very little persecution of Christians, I mentioned in an earlier sermon that there may be a few remarks, the missing out on an opportunity or two because of your faith and refusal to bend to the worlds standards. But by and large persecution is rare.
This takes me to beatitude, in Matthews gospel if we read from Matthew 11: 1-6 we find another blessing that Jesus talks about. Let’s read that passage!
“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
So in Matthews’ gospel we have this journal of John the Baptist sending his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was the Messiah or should they expect some other bloke to come as the Messiah?
Jesus gives this no nonsense reply, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”