Sermon

The Beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12)

Dore_Bible_Sermon_on_the_MountJesus began the Sermon on the Mount with eight blessings[1] that describe the character of those who have entered the kingdom of God. While it is impossible in this life for any one disciple to perfectly meet these descriptions, they are nonetheless Jesus’ description of a Christian. What does Jesus mean when He says someone is blessed? Some people believe being blessed means being happy, but as Don Carson comments: “Those who are blessed will generally be profoundly happy; but blessedness cannot be reduced to happiness.”[2] That is because it is so much more than being happy. Happiness is dependent upon what is happening or how you feel; blessedness is based on who you are or more specifically whose you are. Those who have entered the kingdom of God are blessed because God has blessed them.

The blessings must be understood in the context of the Gospel. They describe Christians. Each blessing is associated with salvation and a token of God’s gracious favor. Each blessing comes in two parts. The first part reveals who is blessed and the second part reveals how they are blessed. We must be careful with the Beatitudes. All eight blessings describe every Christian in the kingdom of God. We must not approach the eight blessings like we would a buffet; picking and choosing which ones we want and don’t want. Doriani wrote: “we must see the Beatitudes as a multifaceted description of a whole person. They are not seven or eight random statements about virtue. Rather, they are a holistic portrait of a kingdom citizen. More than that, they portray the heart of the King.”[3] God is at work in our hearts producing these blessings in our lives.

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit (v. 3)

What does it mean to be poor in spirit and why are they blessed? Being poor in spirit means you recognize your spiritual weakness (poverty) and your desperate need for God’s help. Do you regularly recognize your inability to change yourself and your critical need for God in your life? Do you see your life as unmanageable without God’s help?

Blessed are those who Mourn (v. 4)

Why are those who mourn blessed? What does it mean to mourn? Mourning in this context is directly related to the poverty of Spirit in verse 3. It is a declaration of our weakness. Those who mourn are not indifferent about their sin but grieve over it. Do you long for God’s forgiveness and healing? When you sin, is there a godly sorrow that leads to a repentance?

Blessed are the Meek (v. 5)

Who are the meek and why are they blessed? The poor in spirit who mourn over their sin are meek. Meekness is not a weakness. Being meek does not mean you are timid. Meekness is a strength because it is the ability to live a self-controlled life under the authority of Christ. A meek person does not demand their own way or grumble when things don’t go their way. Are you guided by humility?

Blessed are those who Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness (v. 6)

Those who grieve over their sin are meek and, as a result, hunger and thirst for righteousness. Just as our bodies are designed to hunger for food and thirst for drink, those in the kingdom of God hunger and thirst for righteousness. What does your heart desire? What are you striving for and what motivates you? Are you hungry and thirsty for God’s righteousness in every part of your life?

Blessed are the Merciful (v. 7)

The next three blessings describe the change of action that occurs as a result of their change of heart. For example, the poor in spirit are merciful. This is because we see the weakness of others differently when we recognize our spiritual poverty (our weakness and sin). Mercy is kindness and patience with the failings of others. We can show mercy because we have received mercy from God.

Blessed are the Pure in Heart (v. 8)

The second and sixth blessings are related in that those who mourn over their sins desire to be pure in heart. What does it mean to be pure in heart? It means you are not double-minded and you have no guile. The pure in heart are not trying to manipulate or deceive others. They do not work for earthly reward or praise but are motivated by glorifying God. Are my motives pure? Am I double-minded?

Blessed are the Peacemakers (v. 9)

Jesus declares that the peacemakers are blessed. This blessing is tied to the third blessing because it is the meek who strive to be peacemakers. Having peace with God (Rom 5:1), they are not vying for power or influence but humbly seek what is true. Peacemakers love God and others and seek peace. Without sacrificing your convictions, do you desire to do everything in my power to be at peace with others?

Blessed are those Persecuted for Righteousness (v. 10-12)

Jesus declared those who are persecuted because of righteousness are blessed. We will discuss this blessedness in our next sermon. In the meantime, ask yourself if you are willing to be persecuted for your faith or more likely to compromise your faith in order to avoid conflict?

In conclusion, are you blessed? Can you go through the Beatitudes and say that Jesus is working in my life in these areas? If so, hear the blessings of the king. Yours is the kingdom of heaven! You will be comforted! You will inherit the earth! You will be filled with righteousness! You will be shown mercy! You will see God! You will be called a child of God!  You are blessed!

Footnotes:
[1] These blessings are commonly called the “Beatitudes” because of the Latin word beatus.
[2] Quoted from Beatitudes for Today by John Blanchard, pg. 48.
[3] Doriani, Daniel. Sermon on the Mount, pg. 15.