1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn! For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek! For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness! For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful! For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart! For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers! For they shall be called the sons of God.
10 Blessed are they who have been persecuted for righteousness sake! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
11 Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for My sake.
12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for your reward in Heaven is great. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
These are described by some as the process of salvation and sanctification, something like this:
When we realize our spiritual poverty, we see our need for God’s salvation, and we become His heirs, elgible to inherit His kingdom. When I understand my sin and Christ’s sacrifice, I mourn, and He comforts. I hunger for His righteousness, and He gives it to me. Having received His mercy, I become merciful to others. Jesus purifies me, and I will see Him. I minister to others, bringing them to peace with God, and they know I am a Christian by my love. Persecution is a proof of my Godly life.
As Jesus made these statements, He states a characturistic, and then tells why that characturistic makes such a person to be so happy. In these verses, Jesus is describing people. “What happy people these are!” Each of these sayings either come straight from the Old Testament, or are built on OT themes. Tonight I want to look at these sayings of Jesus in the light of the Old Testament.
The usual word used translated “Blessed” is eulogetos, or “good speaking.” It is something that is bestowed, or given. The word here is makarios, the happiness of existing in a good condition. We might say something like “blessed - how happy - are the young, healthy, beautiful rich people.” But Jesus starts off just a little different:
3 "Blessed are the poor (destitute – same word used of the beggar named Lazarus, the root means to cringe or cower) in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Isaiah 66:2 “For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.”
Those who cringe, who tremble at the LORD’s word. This is a deep, inner response as I recognize my complete and utter lack of anything good, before the Righteous and Holy God.
Ps 34:18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
Isaiah 57:15 “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
God says that of all the things He has made, what captures His attention is the poor and contrite spirit. These are the ones God causes to live. These are the ones that live with God.
Poverty is my true state before God. The poor aren’t checking their own pockets for what they need, they already know whats there – nothing! Maybe its that we can only have one or the other, either we fill our hands with what the world calls riches, or we recognize that its not worth a thing, and we let go, to find that our hands are filled with the true riches from God. Those are the happy ones!
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Jesus did not explain these sayings, He just said them. We know that not all mourning will be comforted. Rachel, mourning for her children, refused to be comforted (Jer 31:15). The lost mourning the lost will not know comfort.
So what do we find in the OT about the mourning that will be comforted?
Isaiah 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Zechariah 12:10-12 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;”
On that day, Israel will mourn for their Messiah, and their mourning will be comforted, as Jesus restores the nation. So what do we mourn today, that we know will be comforted? My sin, what I have lost because of it, and the price Jesus paid.
When my heart breaks over all He has done for me, and my rejection of Him, and I mourn for this lost relationship. The LORD, in His love, restores me.
There is another mourning also, as the God’s children see the evil, and its consequences, around them.
Jer 13:17 But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD's flock has been taken captive.
Eze 9:4 And the LORD said to him, "Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it."
2Pe 2: 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);
Mourning is the evidence of a true understanding of our personal and corporate culpability before God. Mourning means I am one of the survivors.
Psa 30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Psalm 37:8-11 “ Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
This passage defines meek for us, as those who wait upon the LORD.
1 Samuel 2:6 The LORD kills, and makes alive. He brings down to Sheol, and brings up.
7 The LORD makes poor, and makes rich. He brings low, he also lifts up. 8 He raises up the poor out of the dust. He lifts up the needy from the dunghill, To make them sit with princes, and inherit the throne of glory, for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's. He has set the world on them. 9 He will keep the feet of his holy ones, but the wicked shall be put to silence in darkness; for no man shall prevail by strength.
In meekness I know that I can’t of myself do anything.
Numbers 12:3 “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” How was Moses meek? How many ways did he try to convince God that he wasn’t capable of performing the mission God set him to do? I think Moses believed what he was saying!
Oh how happy are those who wait upon the LORD, who do not try to prevail by their own strength! Not struggling, not fighting! They are the ones that the LORD will keep, and they will inherit the earth.
Meekness is the true knowledge of our own abilities in the sight of the LORD.
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger (pine, be famished) and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Isa 55:1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Ezr 6:21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat, 22 And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful,
We know that righteousness comes from God. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we have to go to Him.
Deu 4:29 "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Isa 55:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
The hunger and thirst for righteousness is the hunger and thirst for what we truly need. The happy people are the ones hungry for righteousness, because God gives them His righteousness.
These first four beatitudes are basically saying “O how happy are these that lack!” The dichotomy is because the first phrase is the human view, the second is God’s view.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Mercy is having something, and giving it away.
Ex 34:6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
This is the first detailed description God gives of Himself. The first quality He gives is that He is merciful. The one quality He repeats is that He is merciful. I am so glad that He is merciful!!!
Ps 18:25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Out of 295 times that either mercy or merciful are used in the Bible, 107 of them are by David, over one third. David, called a man after God’s heart. David, who committed serious crimes, and against whom much wrong was done.
How happy are you when you know you deserve a harsh penalty, and you receive mercy? To show mercy is to give that gift to others. To be merciful is to give what God gives. How happy you are when you are merciful, knowing that you too will recieve mercy!
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see (to gaze with wide open eyes, as at something remarkable) God.
Ps 24:3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.(NKJV)
Psa 24:3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. (ESV)
A pure heart is a heart that does not go after false gods.
De 4:23 "Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Romans 1 tells us that whole process, as people chose to worship created things, this leads them further from God. But for those who seek only to worship and serve the true God, the Creator, they will be with Him. We know how clean and good it feels when we are not divided between God and something else.
Hebrews, quoting from Haggai, and from Deuteronomy, says in chapter 12:
25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
The time will come when all of our idols, or distractions, will be removed. The happy people are the ones whose minds and hearts are set entirely on the LORD, whose only works are to serve Him, because they are the one’s who will actually see their God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.“Peacemaker” is from the Greek “eirenopoios” from eirene – peace, and poieo – do. Eirene is from a root that means “join”. Peacemakers are those who do those things that join those who are separated. The one other time this word is used in the NT is Col 1:20, speaking of Jesus, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
I wonder, in this beatitude, who is it who will call the peacemaker a child of God?
Isa 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Isaiah couples peace with salvation.
Isa 48:18 Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;
Mal 2:4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, That My covenant with Levi may continue," Says the LORD of hosts. 5 "My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, And I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So he feared Me And was reverent before My name. 6 The law of truth was in his mouth, And injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity. 7 "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
Levi was the priestly tribe, bringing others to know peace with God. We also are priests:
2 Cor 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Peacemakers do the same work Jesus did. These are the happy ones, the ones that others can see are God’s children, as they bring others the the Lord.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus brings us back around to the beginning, as He began, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now He says, “blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”. This one is much like the next, and we will consider them both together.
Up til now, Jesus has been speaking in the third person. “Blessed are they”, but now He will say, “blessed are you”, speaking personally to His disciples.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile (defame) you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad (leap for joy): for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Here, we find our Old Testament commentary coming from the pages of the New:
1 John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.
Heb 11:35 “And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” These kept their eye on the eternal prize, not this transitory world.
What does it mean to be persecuted for Jesus’ sake? Jesus spoke of those who will say “all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” In these times this will probibly mean that we will be called hateful, intolelerant, and bigoted because the Bible declares homosexuality to be sin. This seems to be the coming trend. We will become known as the only group of people in the world who will not agree that all roads lead to God, and will be vilified for obstructing the coming globalism. We will be called terrorists when we refuse to be “marked”.
“You’re stupid if you believe that!” How do we respond? How do we respond when we are arrested for hate-crimes? How do we respond when we are physically attacked because of our faith? Rejoice! Our persecutors are making heavy deposits into our heavenly account! Rejoice! This is a command.
Act 5:40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
There was a man I heard give his testimony of being tortured because of his faith in Jesus, and as he told his story, and quoted this passage in 2 Cor 4:7 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us;” I understood what I hadn’t understood before. As the body is destroyed, all that remains is the treasure.
How do we respond to those who persecute us, or to anyone? With what the Lord has given to us. We don’t have anything of ourselves to offer. Remember their fallen state, the eternal death that’s waiting for them, as it once was for us, and let the Lord work through us. We need God’s righteousness ourselves, we are not the judge of others. We show mercy to others, leading them to have peace with God. Jesus said the happy ones are the ones who live this way.
ειπεν αυτη ο ιησους εγω ειμι η αναστασις και η ζωη ο πιστευων εις εμε καν αποθανη ζησεται
. . . saying to her Jesus, I AM the resurrection and the life, the one believing into Me even dying shall live . . .