Jesus and the Beatitudes
Topic: Sermon on the Mount Passage: Matthew 5:1–5:12
Jesus begins his famous Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, which are a composite depiction of the character of people who belong to his kingdom. He is describing this new kind of character as a “blessed” person. The word “blessed” is sometimes translated as “happy,” but a more enduring idea is found in the Hebrew term “shalom.” It is holistic well-being.
Jesus personally exemplified the blessed character describing his followers in the Beatitudes.
All 8 of these statements of blessedness are for all Christians. They are not just for special saints, nor are they a checklist to earn favor with God, nor are they attitudes to be happy. They describe the heart condition of a Christian and they are interconnected.
- Poor in Spirit – knowing our utter dependence on God.
- Mourn – grieving the sin condition in the world and all human hearts that would rebel.
- Meek – not insisting on our own way but trusting God to secure our way forward.
- Hunger for righteousness – wanting things “right” in relation to God, in our hearts and in society.
- Merciful – longing to alleviate the effects of sin in others’ lives, but with no judgment because we too have sinned.
- Pure in heart – Single-minded purpose that makes God first and moral purity that requires God’s work in us.
- Peacemaker – Actively seeking reconciliation in the world, starting with our own lives.
- Persecuted – Expecting to experience the clash of kingdoms that Jesus inaugurated.
Taking It Home: Walk through the 8 beatitudes and discuss with someone how they form a connected “golden chain” (John Chrysostom’s term). Knowing that God declares these character traits to be “blessed,” and thus desirable, which ones are stronger and which ones are weaker in your life. Pray for growth where needed.
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