Matthew 5–7 contains Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount.” In giving His moral teaching, Jesus announced the lifestyle to be adopted by all who follow Him.
In this particular study of Matthew 5 we focus on the Beatitudes—a series of “blessed are” or “happy are” statements. Jesus deals with the basic values which human beings should live by. He reveals that the values of this world do not lead to blessing; instead blessing comes through living by values which the world despises.
è Blessed. Both Old and New Testaments speak of the “blessed.”
- In the Old Testament, and especially the Psalms, the “blessed are” statements describe qualities in a person which bring him or her God’s blessing. The word also describes blessings that will come to the godly person, and emphasizes material goods.
- Here in Matthew the Greek word means “happy.” The word focuses on the present state of persons who adopt values and attitudes which permit them to know the touch of God in their present lives.
The Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes: Matthew 5:1–11
The Sermon on the Mount describes the way in which we are freed to live when committed to the kingship and authority of Jesus Christ!
Matthew 5:1-12 NIV
1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely ay all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
New values (Matt. 5:1–12). What Jesus did in these few verses was to set up a new system of values by which His people are to live.
The first Beatitude illustrates. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said. Blessed are those who do not approach life with confidence in themselves or reliance on their gifts and talents, sure that they are competent to meet life’s challenges. Blessed instead are those who approach life without such self-based confidence, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Not, theirs “will be” the kingdom of heaven. But, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In approaching life humbly, and with full reliance on the King, we open up our lives to His direction.
There are two things that are immediately striking about this part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
- First of all, a person who takes the call seriously and attempts to live as a kingdom citizen takes a great risk. Each of the counter-values of the world seems to have great survival value!
è If you aren’t competitive and aggressive, how can you get ahead? If you can’t take the practical course, and make the expedient choice, you’re asking for trouble!
è The sermon calls us to abandon this whole approach to life and to walk out of step with society. We are called to abandon “wisdom” for responsiveness to God’s will—whatever the cost. And this involves risk.
- The second thing we see in the sermon is the impossibility of the standards Jesus maintains.
è In shifting attention from behavior to values and motives, Jesus sets righteousness even farther from us than it was before!
o You and I may have been relatively successful in controlling our behavior. But what about our desires? Our thought lives? Our emotions and feelings toward others?
o If righteousness in the kingdom means purity in the inner man, each of us is helpless!
è The secret to the Sermon is found in Jesus statement in Matt. 3:2 “The kingdom is near!” (Matt 3:2).
o Before Jesus returns to rule over us as Kingdom citizens in an actual kingdom at His return, He longs to rule over our values and behaviors!
o You and I are in a relationship with God in which He acts for us and in us. He can break into the pattern of our daily lives and into the very heart of our character. He seeks to rebuild our lives on that which He finds valuable.