**Please be sure to read all around this passage so that you are getting it in context; and as always, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the understanding that He would have you see.
Passage: Matthew 5:1-12
I realize that I am biting off a big chunk here. I could probably spend a lot of time on each of the "commands" given during the sermon on the mount. Each one has deep meaning and is important to the start of Jesus ministry on earth. If we go back to Matthew 4:17 we remember that Jesus had summarized his ministry as..
"Repent for the kingdom is at hand".
..and now he is giving more flesh to what it looks like to be a part of that kingdom.
Note that Jesus is giving these directives on the top of a mount...much like Moses did when he delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites.
I'm now going to try to summarize each of the beatitudes into a very short list:
- Poor in spirit (realize the need for Him)
- Justice seekers
- Pure in heart
- Right-doers even unto persecution
- Persecuted for His name sake
I will briefly look at each one and comment on what I think Jesus meant by each of these. First, I feel it is important to consider what He is doing here. He is setting up His ministry. Telling the people what His followers will look like and how the Kingdom will be brought in. Remember that the Jews at this time believed that the Kingdom would be set up on earth and that it would be brought in by a big war ending in the defeat of the Romans. They did not necessarily see it as an everlasting kingdom, but as another salvation from a physical oppressor...so much of what Jesus is describing here is to try and get them to see what the kingdom is really about and to get them to look at it in a different light.
Poor in Spirit
Not only is this a basis for how a Christian should live, it must have been a bit of a shock to those hearing it for the first time. They felt that the kingdom would be ushered in with force, and here Jesus is telling them that it would only be available to those who were poor in spirit. You cannot be a great warrior with a poor spirit..at least not by the world's definition. Jesus wants them to start to get a glimpse of where the real battle for the kingdom is taking place...in the heart (spirit).
Mourning generally signifies a loss. Many who follow Jesus would become mourners over the lost loved ones or their lost livelihoods....but maybe the mourning here is over something else. Consider that maybe He is referring to the effects of sin...when truly revealed.
Are you born again? If so, you may know what I am referring to here....when you see the effects of the sins you commit or have committed. When you truly understand the hurt that they cause and the damage inflicted...it tends to cause the heart to "mourn" over the loss. That mourning can change your heart. It can make you detest sin instead of desiring it. This is not a call from Jesus to self condemnation, but to a deep understanding of the effects of sin...which will affect a change in the direction of the heart.
The opposite of pride.
How can a man be taught who already has the answers? How can a physician heal someone who is not sick? How can a full man be fed? These are all the questions that are answered in the definition of humble. You must first know your need for answers before you can be taught. You must first know you are sick before you will even seek out a physician. You must first know you are hungry before you can be fed. A humble man realizes his need for the Saviour and can then be taught, healed, and fed.
Something to note; the problem that the church of Laodicea has is pride, the opposite of humble.
Here's one we can all relate to. If you've spent anytime at all watching movies or television you know exactly what a justice seeker is. It is someone who has been wronged or has a loved one that has been wronged and they go out and exact vengeance with full wrath and fury until the bad-guy has been totally wiped out, including all of his evil cronies. Then justice has been served, right?... Wrong.
It actually says that they "hunger and seek after justice", not that they create the justice for themselves. Those who seek it "shall be satisfied" and being satisfied does not imply that you gain that satisfaction for yourselves. We also know in Romans 12:19 that vengeance is God's to mete out. Besides, we would muck it all up and make a mess of it. God knows a mans heart and will give the proper justice in His time. What this beatitude is really saying is those who seek God's justice will be satisfied....you can rest assured that the wicked will get their reward from God and it will be just.
Think of the last time you had a fight with your spouse, friend, or loved one. Did you treat them unfairly? Did you seek forgiveness and did they give you "mercy" even though you did not deserve it? Being merciful means having a spirit of forgiveness. It means not holding a grudge. It means putting your trust in God and being willing to show mercy before exacting your own "vengeance" by not giving mercy. (see previous "Justice Seekers")
Pure in Heart
I think this means that your heart is pure and open to Gods promptings and teachings. Note that the pure in heart "see God". I think this means that they have come to a place in their character that they are desirous of knowing God's Will in all that they do, and are now able to see it and act on it. They are not perfect by human definition, they may even make mistakes...but they have come to a place where they want, deeply want, to know the Will of God and to follow it. Thus, they are able to "see God".
They see a problem between two people. They desire to make things right and to help in anyway they can. They want peace instead of a ruckus or chaos. They work for it, strive for it, and are able to help others attain it.
Right-doers even unto persecution
The title says it all. They will do what is right even though it may mean that they will be hurt. They will hold to truth and right above personal freedom, physical well-being, or even unto death. They are convicted and cannot be swayed by this world. Oh the peace of mind and heart that conviction can bring. I believe that they are happy because of this conviction...
Persecuted for His name sake
...the persecution, when it is caused by doing right, by sticking to your relationship with Jesus, does not cause sorrow... It causes joy and happiness. These are over-comers. The enemy has thrown the kitchen sink at them and they are still standing tall. Conviction can bring joy in the face of persecution. Look to the martyrs...many of them were burned at the stake and sang hymns of praise while it happened. They had this joy...seek it for yourself. Study the Word of God and be sure that you are convicted in all points of doctrine (truth) so that you too can have that joy (conviction) in your heart.
Thank you for the deep truths that can be found in the beatitudes. I so much want to have all of these characteristics in my life. Continue to change my heart Lord and bring me closer to you. Lead me to truth so that I too can have the joy that conviction brings. Please forgive me of my sins and cover me in Your righteousness.
Please be with each of the prayer request on the prayer request page. May you be glorified by every answer to prayer.
Please be with us today as we travel to the coast...give us a safe journey and help us to see your hand in the beauty of the ocean.
I love You and I thank you for your sacrifice. Amen.