Scripture reading – Matthew 5; Matthew 6
Considered as Christ’s inaugural address to His followers, the “Sermon on the Mount” is an exposition of the heart of Christ the King (Matthew 5-7). It is a declaration of the character of those who would be citizens in His kingdom. Like God’s Laws and Commandments, I believe the Sermon on the Mount embodies some of the greatest truths known to man. Our Scripture reading is Matthew 5 and 6, but the focus of today’s devotional is Matthew 5:3-12.
Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes
Sitting down on a hillside that overlooked the Sea of Galilee (5:1), Jesus taught the people a series of eight inspiring truths we identify as the Beatitudes (5:3-12). In essence, the Beatitudes are an exposition of the attitudes and character of believers (5:3-12). They are the sum of Christ’s declaration regarding the actions and attitudes of the citizens of heaven.
Each Beatitude began with the word “Blessed” (5:3-12). A brief definition of what it means to be blessed is: A state of settled joy and contentment that is not dependent upon one’s circumstances.
Briefly, I invite you to consider the Beatitudes in two parts: The Person and The Promise.
Matthew 5:3 is the foundation of the eight Beatitudes, and reads: “3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:3). The “Poor in Spirit” recognizes the extremity of his spiritual poverty apart from Christ. The promise is, “the kingdom of heaven” (5:3b). The second Beatitude is, “4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (5:4). The righteous mourn because they are sensitive to sin (i.e., “poor in spirit”), and are comforted because their sins are forgiven (5:4).
Thirdly, the blessed are “meek,” and are promised, “they shall inherit the earth” (5:5). The meek accept God’s dealings as good, with unquestioning submission. The blessed also “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (they have an appetite for righteousness), and are promised, “they shall be filled” (satisfied, wanting for nothing, 5:6).
The fifth Beatitude states, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (5:7). The merciful do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult. They are not vindictive, nor seek revenge. What is the promise to those who show mercy to others? They will be the recipient of mercy, undeserved and forgiving (5:7).
The “pure in heart” are promised, “they shall see God” (5:8). By definition, the “pure in heart” are sincere, free from hypocrisy and doublemindedness (James 1:8). They are single in heart and desire. The promise to the “pure in heart” is, they will “see God” (5:8b). (Fanny Crosby, the blind poet and gospel songwriter was asked what she looked forward to most about heaven. She answered, “I shall see Him [Christ] face to face, and tell the story – Saved by Grace.”)
The seventh Beatitude is the peacemaker: “9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (5:9). The world says, “Be a peacekeeper,” and be willing to compromise. Yet, Christ taught His followers, “Be a peacemaker,” (5:9) and you will be identified as a child of God (5:9b). What does a peacemaker do? He introduces others to the peace that can only be found in Christ.
Finally, the Blessed will suffer persecution, and are promised the kingdom of heaven (5:10). Jesus taught, “10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:10–11).
Closing thoughts – Notice the righteous face three forms of persecution (5:11). 1) They are reviled (mocked, and have disparaging things said about their character and motives). 2) They are “persecuted,” (suffering personal confrontations that are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual in nature). 3) Lastly, persecutions are also verbal, for the wicked will “say all manner of evil against [the believers] falsely, for [Christ’s] sake” (5:11). Verbal persecutions come as lies, innuendoes, and sowing questions concerning one’s motive or sincerity.
As difficult as it may seem (and it is), the attitude of the persecuted is to be this: “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad[jumping and leaping for joy]: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12). How can the “Blessed” rejoice when they are persecuted? They recognize troubles and trial have their purpose in the providence of God (James 1:2-4).
The “Blessed” know, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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