Can you imagine with me what it would be like to physically be in Jesus’ presence, and to be able to sit down with him on a mountain, and to listen to him teach us his truths? Think with me for a moment what it would be like to gaze up at his face and to be able to look into his eyes and to see his tender mercy for us, and his love and compassion extended towards us. And, then let’s listen to him speak tenderly to our hearts what we need to hear from him today so that we may apply these truths to our daily lives.
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If we are blessed by God, we are fortunate to receive from him his grace and mercy, his love and compassion, his forgiveness of sins, deliverance from our slavery to sin, and new life in him created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. Our chains have been lifted and we are now free to walk with him in purity, living holy lives pleasing to him. And, now we have the hope that one day we will be with him face to face for eternity.
Yet, in order to receive these blessings, we must first of all humble ourselves before God, and own up to our own sinfulness and of our need for the Savior. We must willingly lay down our lives, forsake our sinful pasts, leave it all behind, and then follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands. We must consider our lives worth nothing without God, and we must surrender our wills to the will of the Father and yield to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. For this is what it means to be “poor in spirit.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Part of this humbling of ourselves before God in repentance of sin is grieving over that sin, like grieving over the death of a loved one. We don’t grieve that we now have to give up that sin, though, as though we have lost a loved one to death, but we grieve in the sense that we truly comprehend that sin means death, not just physical death, but spiritual death, and that our sin meant Jesus’ death on a cross so that we could be set free from that sin. We feel in our spirits that our sin is what separated us from God, and we realize that we must die to that sin in order that we might have life in Him.
The benefit of this death to sin is that we are able to be free from the control of sin over our lives, and we can now walk in that freedom, and we can now experience the joy and peace of God in our lives. The weight of our sin has been lifted from our shoulders, and the burden of the control of flesh over our lives has been removed so that we can now walk according to the Spirit of God and not be ruled by the flesh. And, this is what brings comfort to our hearts, because we are no longer ruled by sin, but we are now being led of God by the Spirit in living holy lives committed to God and to his service.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Some translations say “Blessed are the meek.” And, many people confuse meekness with weakness, but they are not one and the same. For, Jesus was gentle, and he was meek, but he definitely was not weak. He was very strong in the things he taught, in fact, and he was very definite about how he felt about sin – lying, cheating, adultery, hypocrisy, and the like. He was gentle with the contrite, but he was formidable in addressing the Pharisees with their hypocrisies and their false righteousness and hidden sins.
So, “gentle” or “meek” does not mean weak on sin. The meaning of the word has more to do with controlled strength, not being unduly harsh, but also not shying away from speaking the truth in love out of fear of rejection. Jesus modeled this perfectly for us. When he needed to be fierce, he was, and when he needed to be more gentle, he was, depending upon whom he was addressing and what the situation called for. For, he was under the control of God and not of the flesh, and that really is the bottom line here.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Not many of us in America know what it means to truly be hungry. I have seen food pantries available to the poor overflowing with food to the point to where there was no more room to store the food. And, the government freely hands out food stamps to people considered at poverty level, too. And, there are many charitable organizations in our country which help provide basic needs for the poor, so few people have to go hungry in our country, I would suspect.
So, I think that for the vast majority of Americans, we can’t really relate to the true nature of what this verse is saying, and perhaps that is why so many American Christians live such lukewarm Christian lives, because they don’t feel that need, that hunger within themselves for God, because they have so much in the way of this world’s goods that it often crowds out God. But, this is where we need to be, truly hungering and thirsting for God and his righteousness as though we cannot exist if we do not have him.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
To be merciful is to show compassion, kindness, sympathy, forgiveness, and understanding towards other people. But, we should never confuse mercy with being weak on sin or for making excuses for people’s sins or giving them a pass for repeated and willful offenses. We don’t get even. We don’t trade tit for tat. We forgive, but we don’t forgive in such a way as to make allowances for sin. Basically, we follow the example of Jesus.
Jesus’ mercy to us is not just in taking our penalty for sin for us, and it is not just in forgiving our sins, but it is in freeing us from the control of sin over our lives, and it is in being honest with us about our sin and our need to die to sin and to live to righteousness. It would not be mercy if he left us still under the control of Satan and the power of sin still bound in our sinful addictions. True mercy sets us free from the power of sin over our lives.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
We need to be people who are pure in heart. Pure means to be undefiled by sinful practices. It means to live lives which are not adulterated by sinful addictions. And, it means to be unmixed with the world of sin and with worldliness, and not being held captive to all that the world is offering us in the way of pleasing our flesh.
It means, too, that we walk in purity, honesty, integrity, holiness, uprightness and faithfulness, and not in lying, engaging in hidden sins, and giving into the lusts of our flesh on a consistent basis. It means, too, that we walk in the fear of the Lord and not in the fear of man, and that we live holy lives pleasing to God, because we love God, and we want to please him.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Some people are peacekeepers, and some people are peacemakers, and there is a distinct difference between the two. A peacekeeper is one who will compromise truth, godly principles, righteousness, purity and the like in order to not ruffle anyone’s feathers, and not upset anyone, and to not be controversial or say things to people which will make them not like us.
Peacemakers, on the other hand, are those who consider their lives and their reputations as not as important as the salvation of other human lives. They will willingly lay down their lives in order to see others be delivered from their slavery to sin, even if it costs them friends, family, and jobs, etc. For, they are more concerned with people being at peace with God than they care about whether or not those people will like them in return.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
So, if you are a peacekeeper, you may have the world love you, but you will “love” these people to hell if you don’t tell them the truth about their sin and of their need to repent of their sins and to follow our Lord in obedience. For, if you notice what these verses have said here, it is those who are pure in heart who will see God, and it is those who are peacemakers who will be called sons of God. It is the contrite of heart and those who grieve over their sins who have the promise of the kingdom of heaven. And, it is those who show God’s mercy to others who will receive mercy in return.
But, if we are peacemakers, as Jesus was, the world will probably hate us, including the worldly church will most likely reject us, too. And, we will be persecuted, insulted, have all kinds of evil spoken against us, be treated badly, mocked, betrayed, and perhaps even put to death because we cared more about other people’s relationships with God than we gave thought to protecting our own reputations. And, because of this, we are blessed by God, and so we should rejoice that we have been counted worthy to suffer injustice for the sake of righteousness and for loving other people.
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.
Monday, October 1, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for this teaching from Matthew 5:1-12 NASB. May we take it to heart and apply its truths to our daily lives. Amen!