Summary: The first set of four beatitudes focus on our vertical relationship to God, the second set of four on our horizontal relationship to people. Each of the eight builds upon the other so that there is an amazingly beautiful and compelling progression.
Opening illustration: How good are you at making enemies? No, I didn’t ask how good you are at making friends. That’s easy. Just be a good Joe, an easy spender, a tolerant sort of fellow who never offends anybody.
But how good are you at making enemies? If you are a child of God and you can move among wicked, ungodly, cursing men and women today, and not be different enough to incur their disfavor or reviling words, you certainly are not much of a testimony. Do you avoid discussing spiritual issues because you’re afraid of criticism for your faith in Christ? Are you ashamed to talk to others about Him for fear of losing friends?
In fact James 4:4 says, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” The Word of God is like a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. For believers it offers instructions on how to live a godly life (2 Timothy 3:16), and it brings conviction to the minds of unbelievers (Hebrews 4:12). [Our Daily Bread, M. R. De Haan]
Jesus’ words seem to contradict each other. But God’s way of living usually contradicts the worlds. If you want to live for Christ, you must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. You must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse. By giving up your own rights in order to serve others, you will one day receive everything God has in store for you.
Let us turn to Matthew 5 and catch up with what Jesus was telling the listeners – things that were strange then as they are now, things that contradicted the world view then as much as is today. He raised more enemies for Himself than friends. In fact the ones that He had deserted or betrayed Him.
Introduction: The word “Blessed” is a grace word that expresses the special joys and sanctification granted the person who experiences salvation. It is more than happiness. It implies the fortunate state of those who are in God’s kingdom. The Beatitudes don’t promise laughter, pleasure or earthly prosperity. To Jesus “Blessed” means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.
Jesus said God’s Kingdom is organized differently from worldly kingdoms. In the kingdom of heaven, wealth and power and authority are unimportant. Kingdom people seek different blessings and benefits, and they have different attitudes. Are your attitudes a carbon copy of the world’s selfishness, pride and lust for power, or do they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, your King?
The first set of four beatitudes focus on our vertical relationship to God, the second set of four on our horizontal relationship to people. Each of the eight builds upon the other so that there is an amazingly beautiful and compelling progression.