Read Matthew 5:1-12
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them, saying:
3”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
11”Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (NIV)
The Beatitudes are a difficult passage for many. It is the beginning of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. When we look at them, they seem almost impossible to fulfil as one lives one’s life. There are those that point out that this teaching was for Jesus’ disciples, not the masses. They also point out that Jesus seemed to have two kinds of teaching, one for his disciples and one for the masses. When Jesus taught his disciples, it seemed more demanding than when he taught the masses. So, there are those who say that this might not be for everyone. But then there are those who say that one cannot follow Jesus without becoming a disciple.
So how do we look at this section of teaching by Jesus. I think the first is see that these are not rules and regulations. It is not a to do list. These are attitudes that we are moving toward as a people of God. I love the way one person put it. He said, “They are instructions from a teacher who wants to share with us the love of a parental God who is deeply concerned about our welfare and wants us to live on planet earth in ways that will bring us maximum blessing and joy. To follow the teachings of Jesus in joyful obedience is to know the God who was in Christ, a god who is loving and parental.”
Each attitude reveals something deeper. The Jews had reduced the Law of God as a way of simply going through life with do’s and don’ts. What Jesus was trying to teach was a way to connect closer with God. I believe the beatitudes point more to something we become than something we do. It takes time and commitment to Christ to be changed into a person who is summed up in this way. It is not something we achieve overnight.
Think about yourself or others you might see in church. Is there a distinction between those who are ready and desiring greatly to sit at the feet of Christ and those who like the 5000, simply want to be fed by Christ? I think one is active and the other is passive.
I wonder what it would be like if you attended a new member class and the pastor read Jesus’ words as recorded in Luke 14:26-27, 33 to you. Luke records Jesus saying this about being a disciple. He writes: “26If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. . . 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” These can seem harsh words. But what Jesus is pointing to in that passage of Luke as well as well as the Beatitudes is the change that will happen to us if we become a disciple of Christ. There is a death of self that takes place and a new focus in life that comes alive. And this new focus, the new way of being brings about not only eternal life, but joy and peace in this life. If we no longer look to this world to satisfy us, we will find we cannot be hurt by this world. Does viewing our lives being new, being born again change how we look at the Beatitudes. A final question, “What is Jesus calling you to do in response to hearing his teaching?”
Blessings and Peace