Good News Beatitudes
GOOD NEWS BEATITUDES
This past Tuesday night President Obama gave the State of the Union address and I haven’t seen the statistics but I suspect that millions of Americans watched it.
- But let me ask you…how long do you think people will remember what he said?
- A couple of weeks…a few months…until the next election?
Through out history there have been some great speeches…great sermons…given by men…for us the “Gettysburg Address” is probably the most well known.
- But as great as those speeches and sermons were…none has endured…none were as important…none affected all of mankind…like the one spoken by Christ here in Matthew 5-7.
- This is what is known as the Sermon on the Mount…Christ spoke these words 2000 years ago…and what Jesus says here in this sermon is as applicable to us today as it was when He first spoke this.
- It is probably the best-known part of the teachings of Jesus…but arguably it may be His least understood teachings…and it is very likely the least obeyed…and because it is we see the multitude of problems and godless living that exists in our nation, our families, and our individual lives.
- If we understood what Christ says here…and obeyed what He says we, as a society, would save ourselves many disappointments and heartaches.
- So, lets begin with this sermon from Christ that can move people from “darkness and the shadow of death” into the kingdom of heaven.
Now Jesus begins His sermon with what we call “The Beatitudes”…the term “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin word “Beatus” which means “happy, fortunate, or blissful”…a term assigned to this section of Jesus’ sermon because each statement begins with “Blessed.”
- This morning we are only going to cover the first 4.
Let me give you the background to the giving of this sermon.
- Jesus has settled in Capernaum…which is located on the north end of the Sea of Galilee.
- For centuries the people living in this area had been exposed to political and military aggression from the north.
- They had also been exposed to the corrosive moral and religious influences of a pagan environment.
- It was said of them that “They fear Jehovah, and serve other gods.”
- Isaiah spoke of them as “sitting in darkness…and in the land of the shadow of death.”
- These people were in need of “Hope and Change” and Jesus brought it to them.
- And really, His was not a message of “Hope and Change”…it was a message of “Change and Hope” for in verse 17 of chapter 4 it says that “Jesus began preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- If these people were going to get out of the “darkness…out of the shadow of death”…if they were going to get out from under the physical and spiritual oppression…they were going to have to “repent…stop living a life of sin…stop doing the things they were doing that caused them to be in the darkness…and turn to God and allow the kingdom of God to reign in their hearts.”
- Only then would they have “hope.”
So Jesus is going all through Galilee teaching and proclaiming the “good news of the kingdom” and He was “healing every kind of disease and sickness.”
- And I want you to look at chapter 4: 24-25…I want you to see who was following Him and who it was He was teaching and preaching too.
And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25 And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
- These crowds consisted of those who were not only physical outcasts…but spiritual outcasts.
- People who were not allowed into the synagogues or the temple…people who were separated from society…
- People who were spiritually without hope.
- People who were in need of some “good news”…some instruction on how to get out of the spiritual darkness they were in.
- And Jesus gives it to them…look now at chapter 5:1.
1And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Now, I want you to notice is the word “Blessed’…every beatitude in this passage starts with “Blessed”…some versions have “happy.”
- This word “blessed” is the Greek word “makarios”…and it means much more than just “happy.”
- “Happiness” is a subjective state…it is what you may feel.
- Jesus is making an objective judgment about these people and He is declaring what God thinks of them…and what they are on that account…they are “Blessed.”
- You are “blessed” by God even though you may not feel happy.
Now if you will look at the end of each beatitude you will see the blessing!
- Jesus says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- “Theirs is the reign of God…and everything that goes with it!”
- Hope, salvation, peace, joy, heaven…all that heaven promises.
That is something that these people would want…because as far as they were concerned those things were out of their reach!
- They were the outcasts…the separated…even their own spiritual leaders considered them as nothing but hopeless sinners!
- The possibility of possessing the “kingdom of heaven” would be something they would want to know about!
- And so do I.
So, how do you obtain it…what does it take for it become yours? What did it take for these poor, separated, outcasts to obtain it?
- Well, look at what Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
- What does He mean by “poor in Spirit?”
- The O.T. supplies us the necessary background to understand what Jesus means.
In the O.T. to be “poor” meant to be in literal, material need…to be poverty stricken.
- But gradually, because the needy had no refuge but God, “poverty” came to have spiritual overtones and to be identified with “humble dependence on God.”
For example: Psalms 34:6 This poor man cried and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
- The “poor man” is one who is both afflicted and unable to save himself, and he therefore totally depends on God for His salvation, recognizing that God owes him nothing.
Isaiah 41:17 “The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.
- They are totally dependent on God.
In Isaiah 57:15 the “poor” are described as people with a “contrite, penitent, repentant, and humble spirit.”
So, to be “poor in spirit” is to acknowledge your spiritual poverty…a spiritual bankruptcy before God.
- It is to say, “God I need you…I cannot save myself…I depend entirely on you God for my salvation!”
- “I have nothing to offer, nothing to plead, nothing with which to by the favor of heaven.”
Rock of Ages: 454
“Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to thee for dress; Helpless, look to thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.
These words express very well what it means to be “poor in spirit.”
What would be the opposite?
- “I don’t need you God! I haven’t done anything that is all that wrong! I am glad God that I am not like all these other sinners.”
- Arrogance; Pride.
You see, when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”…the individual that realizes that His salvation is totally dependent on God… to that person “the kingdom of heaven”; the “rule of God that brings salvation, and hope, and peace, and joy” is given.
- Not to the “spiritually rich…or those who think they don’t need God.”
- Not to the mighty who think they can gain their own salvation.
- Not to the Pharisees who arrogantly thought they were already rich in their attainments.
- Not to the Sadducees who thought they were already right with God.
- But to the “poor in spirit”.
- Unless you are poor in spirit you will never come to Christ for salvation anyway…because you do not see your need too.
Back up in chapter 4:23 it says that Jesus was “proclaiming the gospel…the good news.”
- Well, this was “good news” to these people…and it is good news for all today who “are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Look at the second beatitude; vs. 4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- “…for they shall be comforted”; what does that mean? And how is it obtained?
- Well, if we understand who it is that is “comforted” then we will understand what it means to “be comforted.”
So what does Jesus mean when He says, “Blessed are those who mourn?”
- What kind of sorrow causes you to reap a state of blessedness with God?
- Well, look what the apostle Paul says in 2 Cor. 7: 9-10:
9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
- When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn…”, He isn’t talking about the sorrow that is experienced when a loved one dies.
- Jesus is talking about those who mourn the loss of innocence, the loss of righteousness…who sorrow over sin, over the evil in the world as well as their own sins.
- Jesus is talking about the person who is heartbroken over his sin and the sin of others.
Those mourners, who grieve their own sinfulness, who are saddened by the sins of others…those who do not delight in sin at all…they will be comforted by the only comfort which can relieve their distress, namely the free forgiveness of God.
Now the third beatitude, vs. 5: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
- Notice the blessing for those who are gentle: ...for they shall inherit the earth.
- What does he mean?
Do you see the word “earth?” That is the Greek word “ge” (ghay) and that word can be translated “land”…and that meant something to these people.
Psalms 37:9 For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.
Psalms 37:11 But the humble will inherit the land,
Psalms 37:22 For those blessed by Him will inherit the land; But those cursed by Him will be cut off.
Psalms 37:34 Wait for the LORD, and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
Isaiah 57:13 But he who takes refuge in Me shall inherit the land, And shall possess My holy mountain.”
Isaiah 60:21 “Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever,”
- In the context of these passages “the land” spoke of a “glorious inheritance”…a type of spiritual “promised land”…a land of peace, and joy, and hope in the presence of God.
- And look at who Jesus says is going to “inherit that land?”
- The word “gentle” or “meek” means “humble, considerate, courteous.
- And what Jesus is speaking of here is a gentleness toward others which is determined by a true estimate of one’s self.
- The man who is truly “gentle” or “meek” is the man who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.”
- (“Without God I am lost; I myself am nothing more than a sinner…what do I have to boast in? On my own, I am no better than he is. If God and other people treat me with kindness and patience…how can I but treat others the same way?”)
- A true estimate of one’s self makes him gentle, humble, sensitive and patient in all of his dealings with others.
- The “gentle” man will inherit the earth…or land.
- But the wicked and godless may boast and throw their weight around, yet they will be “cut off.”
Look now a the 4th beatitude, Matthew 4:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
- Again, the blessing “for they shall be satisfied” is better understood when you understand who “those who hunger and thirst”
When Jesus speaks of those who “hunger and thirst” He isn’t talking about those who are simply “hungry and thirsty.”
- He is speaking of those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness”…
- And this is a continuous action…this speaks of people who never run out of a desire for that which is “right” in the sight of God…they have a constant appetite…thirst for “righteousness.”
And as far as “righteousness” is concerned there are three aspects of “righteousness” found in the Bible…
- One is to be “righteous” or “justified” in the sight of God…having a right relationship with God.
- Two is “moral righteousness”…a righteousness of character and conduct that pleases God…doing that which is right in the sight of God.
- And three: “social righteousness”…seeking that which is right for others (freeing them from bondage, oppression, treating them fairly, promoting justice).
This beatitude refutes the idea that you can crawl into a corner and hide.
- This beatitude says that we are to be active…letting nothing hinder our efforts of striving for “righteousness.”
- And those who have a constant hunger and thirst for righteousness…Jesus says will be filled with “righteousness”…they will be imputed as “righteous” in the eyes of God.
Four beatitudes taught by Jesus…all were “good news” to those He was talking to: They could obtain the kingdom of heaven; they could find comfort for sin; they could obtain a “glorious inheritance”; and they could be “righteous” in the eyes of God.
But on the other hand: they could reject the kingdom of heaven; they could find no comfort when it came to their sin; they could be judgmental and mean spirited and be cut off from the land; and they could be “unrighteous” in the eyes of God.
- They had to choose.
- And that same choice is yours today!
- Give it some thought and if you decide today…or in the days and weeks ahead…we are here to assist you.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024