Jesus after He went up into a mountain and was set His disciples came unto Him and He opened His mouth and taught them. We call this teaching the Beatitudes, the Magna Charta of Christianity. They constitute however the preface only to our Lordís so called ďSermon on the MountĒ which is by some regarded as ďthe OrdinationĒ discourse of the twelve disciples. The beatitudes defines the conditions of citizenship in the Kingdom, and specify the requirements of the ideal life.
In them Jesus describes the kind of men needed for His kind of world. He tells them that the spiritual life demands a spiritual man; that to be a Christian means breaking a new atmosphere; and that though the divine image on them had been battered and defaced, they might still be reminded in the crucible of His friendship. The Beatitudes emphasize being and maybe naturally divided into an octave of blessings or benediction, of congratulation or felicitation four being directed Godward, and four men-ward, the first four are subjective; the last four are objective. They are not easy to understand. Yet they really furnish the key to the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the poor in Spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Why would we want the kingdom of heaven? From the teaching of Jesus we learn that ďthe kingdom of heavenĒ or ďkingdom of God is spiritual and unworldly in its nature (Mark 10:42-43; John 18:36). Supernatural and heavenly in its origin, powers, blessings; aims and ends; a kingdom free alike from national and ceremonial limitations, working by its own laws and destined in the end to embrace all peoples. It is both universal and everlasting. Christ came in the flesh to reveal it fully to men; comes in the Spirit to guide and maintain it; and will come in glory to perfect it.
Jesusí Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:35). The poor in Spirit are without worldly ambition and who feel themselves spiritually bankrupt. Jesus was not teaching that poverty in itself is a blessing but meant that poverty of Spirit, in the sense of humility, is a help rather than a hindrance of spiritual citizenship in his kingdom. Jesus well knew manís tendency to pride; pride of knowledge, pride of achievement, pride of character, pride of venture, and all the rest. So He begins with the Beatitudes which is of primary and fundamental importance to the kingdom and proclaimed blessed are they that have succeeded in slaying pride. Pride is the head of all the seven daily sins. A man when guilty of pride is relegated to the lowest region of purgatory. Christians are beaten so in humility to their knees we are often despaired in life and when we endure the kingdom of heaven is ours. The blessedness of touching rock-bottom is the blessedness also of the poor in spirit. There is a peace in just letting go; for only then are we willing to fall into the arms of Godís love.
Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Lamentation 3:27 it is good for a man to bear the yoke (of sorrow) in his youth. Most people find it very hard to accept their sorrows, even to admit the right of sorrow to enter their world at all. To the average man sorrow appears as sheer tragedy; they find nothing in it for which to give God thanks. They only long for the end of their sorrows and rejoice; that in heaven ďthere shall be no more sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more painĒ. We sometime imagine beyond the sorrows of this life but in this life Jesus said the Gospel gives us victory here and now. Christianity is an alchemy (power or process of changing one thing to another, miraculous for the better) of the Spirit whereby are the various causes of mourning become instead means of comfort and of grace.
Thank God we are capable of mourning for it is another side of loving. In sorrow we find how deeply we love. Too often prosperity shuts people up in proud isolation. But when they began to suffer they begin to understand. There are people that never thought of heaven till someone died. This Beatitudes is especially true of those who share the sorrows and suffering of others. Mourn means we feel or express sorrow lament and grieve. When we express penitence we profess we need the Lord, we are sorry for the things we have done, the things that depress us. Comforted means the Holy Spirit soothes us in our distress and sorrow. God gives us a sense of ease in our situations, misery and grief.
The Father through His Spirit brings consolation through Christ. He gives us hope that encourages us in the times of us needing consolation. Comfort means God relieves us in our melancholy (sadness or depression of spirits). It is one thing to be indignant at the sin of a brother, it is another thing to feel the shame of it and share it with him. It is the kind of mourning to which Jesus especially calls us, the sorrow that comes from our oneness with our brothers in their sufferings and in their sin. We are to show forth sympathy in the time of their need and empathize with them in the time of their fall that we come into living touch with God and find fellowship in the divine sufferings.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. This is perhaps the most challenging of all the Beatitudes Jesus sets his Seal of congratulation on the man who never claims selfishly any personal rights. The coverage man would deny that gentleness or meekness is blessed rather he would claim that a strong man is expected to stand up for his rights. The world with one voice denies that there is any merit in meekness. Gentleness along with meekness and submission helps us to accept the experiences of life without complaint and kills any motive for self -advantage in the heart of man. Meekness helps us to see Godís love and care for us as well as his desire to bless us. The all wise Fatherís love is recognizable by us when we are meek and humbly submitted to Godís Word. We can inherit the earth if we are energetic and self-assertive for we really donít own anything for everything belongs to God.
In the world man has created artificial wants for man and made him the slave of work to satisfy them. He knows no peace. It has made man little more than a; breathing, fighting, hustling, spinning machine. He demands recognition for himself and insists on the right for it; being confident of their own ability. When we are meek we discover the real us, our true potential character and motives rather they be of God or not. Meekness means we are patient and mild, not inclined to anger or resentment. It means we are submissive to God, each other and the authorities. We are easily imposed upon even when we are inconvenienced. We are spineless and spiritless, gentle and kind. Our concerns are about Christ, not ourselves.
If we expect to inherit the earth we must submit to the one that the earth belongs to. It is salvation that we inherited through Christ Jesus for the believers (Hebrews 1:14) and we are ďheirs of God and joint heirs with ChristĒ (Romans 8:17). An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning but the end thereof shall not be blessed (Proverbs 20:21). The meek shall inherit the earth. Jesus has commended us to God and to the Word of his grace which is able to build us up and give us an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. Meekness causes us to have our eyes opened up where we turn from darkness to the light and from the power of Satan to God. When we meekly come to God he will forgive us of our sins. We have a witness with Jesus and the Holy Ghost that we are the children of God. We are justified by Godís grace and we have hope of eternal life.
Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. There are those who hunger and thirst but not after righteousness. Life for such is one long series of wants and cravings for things which do not satisfy; for pleasure, fame or knowledge, or something else. Then too there are those who are seeking peace in righteousness. We earn peace by righteousness. Every race or tribe, however primitive has its own moral code, a haunting sense of debt, a desire to escape from conscience that ruthless pursue of us all. Paul as a rabbi persecuted Christians and hunted them because God was pursuing him. As a Pharisee Paul frankly allowed that God had a right in his life but he ever tried to settle with Him by setting up an artificial standard of conduct which he of himself could approximately reach.
But to all such Jesus said, do not imagine that you are going to find peace by getting rid of this hunger and thirst after righteousness on such easy term or indeed on any terms at all. If you only knew it, your blessedness consists in just this very hunger and thirst and your satisfaction is just this craving which cannot be satisfied. Hunger means the discomfort, pain or weakness caused by a need for food, famine, starvation, desire, need, or appetite for something. Any strong desire, craving (be hungry, wanting or needing), have a strong desire, need or appetite for. Thirst means we have a strong desire or need for water, dryness (lacking moisture), craving ďwho hunger and thirst after righteousnessĒ.
To Jesus righteousness meant a way of life, service and a craving to demonstrate love for God which itself is a hunger and thirst for righteousness. It is more than a mere code of Laws we are told (commanded) to obey; it is a response to Godís demand of love, a craving to fulfill the Spirit of love; yet never fully realized. Itís something that seems unattainable as mountain climbing, the higher we reach the farther off seems the summit. How can we be satisfied when heaven seems unattainable? Seeking for righteousness seems too unattainable to us but when we are in relationship with God the relationship brings its own satisfaction, namely the fact that he abides all the time in the love of God. The prodigal son was willing to be even a hired servant in his fatherís house; in a world whose name was home. Traveling hopefully in this journey is a bitter thing than to arrive, and the true successor is to labor. We are arriving all the time. We are there all the time; there is fellowship with God.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Mercy means God have given us what we donít deserve. It is kindness in excess given that is not expected. By mercy Jesus means more than mere humanitarianism and pity. The really merciful man is something more than an ambulance worker. Every hospital is a home of mercy. All healing is done by a work of God although he uses manís hand. We set the bone but the real cure of all disease depends on a finer touch, the touch of a love that can mend a broken heart and minister to a mind diseased. To be merciful therefore means to be forgiving and sympathetic. Christ speaking of mercy extends further than what we can ever think. He thinks here of our attitude to the morally unfit, the sinner and all believers that have gone wrong.
Included in his mercy is a kindly judgment where we think about the soul of the sinner, not the sin he does. Our danger is to import into our attitude towards the sinner the hatred we feel for their sin. To judge correctly we must first know the facts. Mercy means we have an eye of love, it means the effort to restore the wrongdoer to righteousness. Forgiveness is just the effort to restore. Mercyís campaign is one of restoration. Jesus brought us back in right standing with God. The prodigal sonís soul was crushed by the Fatherís willingness to forgive him. What can be believed of us? There is no surer weapon in all the armory of the Spirit for bringing the wrongdoers to their knees. Criminals as well as others should be treated with greater kindness. We think chiefly of how to keep our goods; Jesus thinks of how to keep the thief from stealing. If we lived by justice and what we deserved, none of us should see salvation for we all deserved death when Jesus died for us.
We are all guilty of sin at some point or another in our life. He that is without sin cast the first stone at one caught in sin. In Godís love, justice and mercy meet, for they are one and mercy is blessed both to those that gives it and those that take it. It is the merciful alone who can receive mercy. Even God cannot forgive the unmerciful. For the man who has not the Spirit of love; has not really returned to his Fatherís house. We need the miracle of the mercy of God for by it God makes a world in which hatred of sin becomes pity for the sinner. Blessed therefore is he who loses his enmity in a great experience of Godís compassion.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God The pure in heart; who are the pure in heart? The pure in heart are the profoundly sincere and honest. Such shall see God. Indeed without such a vision of God man can really be said to live. We must be responsive to Godís touch and we have to constantly have our heart reset with the Word of God, fasting and praying. Jesus saw God because He was pure in heart. To Him even nature was a mirror reflecting the Fatherís love. He calls us from the worship of a God remote and beyond us into a reverence that finds god everywhere. When God calls us to enter anotherís life in the time of their sadness to help He is calling us to let Him into our own life to fix us. A great sorrow breaking into our own peace is but an opportunity for God. Sorrow opens windows in the soil.
A big grief upsets our values. That is sorrow real compensation and God is in it. Until we see God in our situations there is no real and intelligible meaning in life. But to see God in all the providences of life we need interpreting minds. To see God we need to stand in the right attitude. To see the beauty of a stained glass window we must be within. So it is with God. To see God we must find the right standpoint, and get the right spirit. This means we must be simple and sincere, single-minded in our purposes, and eager to know the mind and will of God. Sincerity is pureness of heart. That is Christís one test above all others. The Scribes and Pharisees wished to know only so much of truth as would not conflict with their own views. They were not sincere, and accordingly missed seeing God.
Jesus came to open our eyes to God! The Scribes were writers, the copyist, depositary, and expounder and they became a recognized order. They had the work of transcribing the sacred books became one of great labor and responsibility. In Matthew 2:4-6Herod consulted the chief priests and Scribes as to where the Christ should be born; they forthwith examined the sacred writings and informed him. They sat as teachers in Mosesí seat in Matthew 23:2, 3. To their authority on doctrinal matters frequent appeal was made. Their manner of teaching was compared with that of our Lord in Matthew 7:29 and Mark 1:22. As the oral as well as the written Law was the subject of their teaching they are constantly coupled with the Pharisees, the great exponents of the former in Matthew 23 throughout; and Luke 5:30. They are reproached as having often abused their calling for purposes of ostentation and extortion and in the end they became among the most rancorous enemies of Christ (Matthew 26:3 where Chief Priest and Scribes and Elders express the Sanhedrin, the great court of the nation) and His Apostles (Acts 4:5, 6:12). We are warned not to be like them by Jesus himself that we are not pure in the wrong things and to the wrong people.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God This beatitude means primarily that they are blessed who try to reconcile men to God. Jesus was just like God and He expected his Disciples and all that follow him to be like Him. Just as a son was expected to follow in his fatherís footsteps in his profession so the same Orientalism underlies the Christian. Joseph was a carpenter in the natural and Jesus likewise was skilled in that same vocation of carpentry. Just so the Disciples of Jesus who endeavored to make peace between rebellious men and God are entitled to be called Children of God because they are engaged in their Fatherís own business, that of reconciliation. This Beatitude allows also, of course, for the establishing of peace between men and men and nations and nations.
Perhaps no word of all Christís message has been taken less seriously than this. For most people the possibility of attaining world peace is but a dream. Men say, the instinct (inborn tendency to behave in a way characteristic of a natural, unlearned, or predictable response to) of pugnacity (eagerness to fight, belligerent, quarrelsomeness, combativeness) is a part of human nature. It is assumed that man is hardhearted, unfeeling, and cruel. War is a recurrent disease, which can never be stamped out. But we have never made peace our serious task, or the ideal of our life. All the skill and desterity of diplomacy will not bring peace to the nationsí if there be nothing more. Peacemaking is more than a game of international chess. The world is today like a family without the family spirit. Only the Spirit of God as in Jesus can show the way. The man who hates another does himself far more damage than any he may inflict on his foe. He is spoiling his own spirit.
When Jesus bade us to turn the other cheek if our brother smite us on the one side He meant that we should create for the man who has wronged us the kind of atmosphere in which he can become a better man; an atmosphere, indeed, in which the flame of his anger cannot live. It is the Christianís duty to be a reconciler, Christ alone can reconcile the nations. Jesus walked by the way of the Cross for the gathering of the nations into the commonwealth of God. But to secure peace for others, we must have the peace of God in our own hearts. We must give ourselves wholly to be peacemakers and we must proclaim peace because Jesus had it in his own heart.
Blessed are the peacemakers, we are to seek peace and pursue it. God is the God of peace. Along this way just like Jesus we will make some enemies. God will shut up the mouth of the enemy. Not only that but He will lift up a standard against our enemies. When a manís ways please God he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Our enemies become the enemy of God also because we are His. God will judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. God formed the light and created darkness, He made peace and create evil; it is God that did these things. Love the truth and peace. Have peace one with another. We are to glorify God in the highest and make peace in the earth having good will towards our brother. We are to be perfect in Christ, be of good comfort, be of one mind and live in peace endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The peacemakers lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. Paul in Romans 12:14 remind us of this that we follow righteousness and them that follow God and call upon him out of a pure heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. We may be for peace yes; and someone else may be for war but bless God, keep the peace and God will make us his children.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousnessí sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven Endure reproach! Reproach is being accused of and being blamed for a fault so as to make ashamed, rebuked or reproved. It means that shame is brought upon you along with disgrace to discredit you. You may be censored or scorned. Jesus told us to go through it for righteousness sake. Jesus is our righteousness; the one that is just and upright. If we suffer for Him we will reap everlasting life. This last benediction is pronounced here upon all that endure reproach. The Disciples in Jesusí day knew well what persecution meant. Much trouble came their way because of their loyalty to Jesus; their Master. The Disciples at least eleven of them were martyrs, only one died in his bed.
Jesus here is proclaiming the joy of the persecuted. He fully expected his loyal Disciples to get into trouble. This concluding beatitude is like a word of warning. Itís as if He was telling them that if you follow me you will get in all sorts of trouble. We get in trouble today without knowing it. Beware! Persecution for righteousness sake is emphasized by Jesus. Many Christians are disliked not because of their Christianity, but for their want of it. But a clear loyalty to Christ, yet today, brings persecution in many parts. The church, indeed, can never hope to be anything but an unpopular remnant, a company of fools for Christís sake. Jesus Himself was accused of a lack of patriotism. He was threatening, they said, the supremacy of the Roman Empire. But He was teaching a higher patriotism, a patriotism which consists not in masterful dominion but in lowly service. His Disciples recognized this, and so prepared themselves to make risks and face individual loss; for they clearly saw that ďall who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Social ostracism and public scorn were their intended lot; and so they early learned that the way of truth and righteousness is its own blessedness at any price. Persecution is the act or practice of persecuting; the infliction of pain, punishment, or death upon others particularly for adhering to a religious creed, or mode of worship. Matthew 13:21 yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended. We have a promise to come of eternal life after we would have suffered persecutions according to Mark in Mark 10:30. Stephen in Acts 7:58-60 was persecuted for speaking the Word of God and believing on Jesus. He was full of the Holy Ghost, looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. He gave up the Ghost as Jesus Himself had previously done.
In his persecution he didnít forget God or Jesus but saw them in all their glory and prayed that his spirit be received as they stoned him. Stephen prayed that the Lord lay; not this sin to their charge and went to sleep. Paul had consented to his death as at that time for there was a great persecution against the church. Paul at that time name was Saul, named for the first king of Israel. Paul was his Roman name for he was born a Roman citizen in Tarsus and attended the University there. Paul was a Hellenistic Jew, a thorough Jew. He was reared in Tarsus as a Pharisee and became a loyal follower of that sect as opposed to the Sadducees. But Paul changed his allegiance to Jesus Christ and was also persecuted and beheaded by Nero for his supposed treason. Paul had been their best man but now he was the best for Christ. At Perga in Pamphylia Paul faced the problem of retreat with John Mark, or of going on up to the highlands where perils of robbers combined with perils of rives to make it a dangerous journey. But he pushed on with Barnabas, and at Antioch in Pisidia.
Paul preached a sermon of great power that Luke has preserved and one with Paulís great doctrine of justification of faith and a sketch of the main things in the life and work of Christ. Paul stirred the jealousy of the rabbis, who set the women and the magistrates on him and drove him and Barnabas on to Iconium, to Lystra and to Derbe. At Lystra, Paul was stoned and left for dead after he had disclaimed being Mercury and Barnabus being Jupiter. The circle of believers around Paulís body probably included Timothy. They feared that he was dead, but he rose up and went on to Lystra. On the return trip to the churches, Paul and Barnabas secured elders for the churches and had a great reception in Antioch, where they reported the door of faith wide open for the Gentiles. From the start of Paulís ministry to the end he was persecuted for righteousness sake. At the end of his life he was beheaded but had preached and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ for which he once persecuted. Even Nero could not take away the mind of Christ Paul had in his heart even though he took Paulís head.
Even if we lose our heads for the sake of righteousness our promise of eternal life cannot be taken away by any man. What shall we give in exchange for our soul? He that loses his life for the sake of Christ shall save his soul. The life of Christ is our ransom; Christ in us the hope of glory. As the Lord lives and we live there is but one step between us and death. The Lord has commanded the blessing for us even life for evermore. If Christ be in us the body is dead because of sin but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. That which was from the beginning which we have heard and seen with our eyes, heard, looked upon and our hands have handled of the Word of life is our promise of eternal life from the Father.