Summary: This sermon takes a look at the beatitudes and tries to show what they are about.
"Matthew 5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:" (ESV). In Micah 6 we read: "8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" In both cases the teaching is being given to those who are called believers, in Micah it is the people of Israel, and in Matthew it is the disciples.
I have heard many people talk about these Beatitudes, and they have for the most part spoken of them as laws for us to follow, as if to say that one must be humble, and merciful, a peacemaker, and must also be able to withstand persecution for being a follower of Jesus. If one can do these things then one is to receive blessings. However the actual reading here is this: "Happy is the one who is poor in spirit." Well what does that mean? It certainly cannot mean the one who is poor, because the spirit is mentioned. Could it be that Jesus was not telling the disciples that they had to be poor to be blessed?
We do read in both the old and new testaments that the poor are those who must depend upon God for everything and therefore they are cared for by God. In this case perhaps we need to understand that this is one who has come to that point in life where he or she can depend upon nothing but God for their very sustenance. There is nothing left to her but faith in the God who created and is creating. So this would be the poor in spirit, because without God there is no hope.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Mourn? What are they mourning? The sin that has brought them to the point where they must mourn for their own lives, and those around them, corrupted by sin, and at war with God. So as they mourn and repent of the sin that is their life, they are comforted.
I would believe that they also mourn for those who have yet to repent, who are still wallowing in their own sin and have no happiness in their lives. Isaiah who comes into the temple and sees God, cries out, "Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips, and I live amongst a people of unclean lips." He mourned for his own sin and the sin of his people. Blessing flows to the one who recognizes his or her sin and repents of it.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (ESV) So who are these meek folks? This is not about being shy and retiring or timid, Billy Graham, is a meek man, for he desires to be in the presence of God always. These are the ones who are constantly before the throne, not for themselves but rather for others and for the glory of God. Meekness is humility before God, not timidity not shyness, but rather boldness for the kingdom.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (ESV) These are the ones who are looking for the righteousness of God, they wish to be like Christ in all things. They also understand that they themselves cannot and will not hold righteousness without it coming from God through Jesus. They wear His mantle of righteousness not their own.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." (ESV) In this world of today, we have to have laws to protect those who would be merciful. It used to be that when you offered help to one in need, it was understood that you were just trying to be like Jesus, that your compassion would be also your protection. Now there is no protection unless you live in a state with a Good Samaritan law on the books. Those who are merciful, receive mercy from God, happy are those who have received that mercy from God.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (ESV) Those who work tirelessly for the kingdom, who love God to the exclusion of themselves and who want only to bring the Kingdom to fruition on earth as it is in heaven.
These are the folks who work out of the will of God as they perceive it, and are blessed many times with the presence in their heart and life of God, one day to see Him face to face which will be their greatest blessing.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." We have an office in the Conference that is dedicated to peace with justice. This is what we are talking about here, these are the folks who strive to bring SHALOM, God’s perfect peace to reality in the space around them. Striving to bring community wholeness to the church and to the society at large. They are happiest when peace is extant and it is a peace that is not the absence of war, but rather a peace with health and wholeness. A just peace for all persons.