Life in the Spirit Study bible Notes
Sermon on the Mount
v.2 He began to teach them..
In this particular portion of scripture Jesus isn’t specifically talking to the unsaved but those who are seeking this Kingdom. Christ has brought good news to all mankind but this news was not established in tangible things. There was no earthly thing that God wanted to establish, nor an earthly thing he sought out. There was nothing earth had to offer God; rather it was Jesus offering something to earth, to mankind. This was something far beyond their senses, it was something far beyond sight it was the establishment of God’s Law within there heart. It was not something man could build or establish but only God. And it was for those who wanted to be a disciple, a follower and a servant.
Until this privilege, God’s requirements through the Law called for righteous living. The law in itself could not change their hearts, however, it could not take them before the throne room, nor could it save them. But now there was a new dispensation, a new word from the Lord, something alive, that went beyond reason, something that went beyond works, or anything of doing. It was God establishing his kingdom in there hearts.
20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
To the Jews the Law was God’s standard of Living in order to present them righteously before him. This was not what Jesus is preaching here. He is not talking to people looking on the outside wanting to get in. He was talking in terms of the character and lifestyle of those who have experienced God’s saving grace. These beatitudes are not entrance requirement into the kingdom, but are a description of the character and blessing of those who are in the kingdom. They remind us how God’s gift always precedes the demand. Each beatitude is composed of a character blessed by God, followed by an explanation of the blessing the characteristic receives. These characteristics that are described should be the present day reality and assurance of the blessing to come. For Jesus never looked for followers but looked for disciples. Jesus was talking to his disciples
Matthew 5:1-10; Luke 6:20-26
When I began this quest of study began to recognize the totality of Jesus’ love for us. However, I also began to understand how far away I am to being a true disciple. My finite mind can’t without the help of the Holy Spirit understand something as loving and spiritual as His blessing. In this world it is almost considered a curse to not pursue all material gain. As a matter of fact the further we as humans supposedly progress it seems we establish who we are by the things around us. Our possessions are equated with our respect, with our identity, with who we are. We somehow have redefined the term blessing and made it into a sign of what’s around us. If I have all the material blessings in every shape in form then I have been blessed by God. This is how we think, how our culture speaks to us, and it was how the Jews thought in Jesus’ time. However, Jesus didn’t come promising material goods, wealth, and a higher social status he did something much greater than all that. He began to speak about keys to the kingdom and its power in his disciples. What He said here is how you can have the kingdom in its fullest, how you can be comforted, how to be filled, how to have mercy, how to see God, how to be called by him a son or a daughter, and how to have true joyfulness. Jesus gave a blessing for every emotional, physical, and spiritual circumstance for those who truly wish to be a disciple of his. That is what is so revolutionary about this message. To those with the pulse of God it motivates us into to a deeper relationship, it reminds of us of the urgency of our mission, and it prompts us to take action. However, to those of us who haven’t sold out, who won’t give up the things of the world, who walk picket fences and have a foot in both worlds this teaching becomes uncomfortable, it becomes salt on a wound, and like all things that convict us we begin our search to justify our actions instead to humble ourselves before God.
Jesus’ words here do not call for us to allow him to refocus our lives. That is to say to the Lord, “Here is what I am doing Lord, please make my ride much smoother.” Jesus’ words call for us to humble ourselves before him so he can give us vision. Not something we have done, but rather something he is doing. Not to refocus what we are doing, but to give focus to what he is doing. Remember that our Lord’s teaching here applies to those who are his disciples. Disciples understand the cost, they know how to bear their cross, they understand persecution to well, and they have given everything to heed the call.
The understanding of blessing
In verses 3-11 in Matthew Jesus begins by correcting our understanding of the definition of “blessing”. The definition is not as we had thought or as the Jews had thought. It wasn’t prosperity nor was it material gain. Blessing or to be blessed was defined by the condition of our hearts before God, and the action our heart prompted us to from this holy condition. In other words the blessings were for disciples. The blessing Jesus speaks of here within these verses indicates a fullness that sustains a true disciple even in the most difficult of circumstances or persecution. This blessing includes a sense of well being because of ones relationship to Jesus. This understanding makes us look at our condition closer.
I remember as a kid my uncle had just returned from Viet Nam. Before he had left he was funny, always joking and playing with me, and he was my favorite uncle. However, when he returned he had a new look in his eye. His body, mind, and soul bore a burden within. Sure he still joked with me, but he had a deeper sense of life and meaning and what it meant to live for something. He had the scares from the battles, from a warrior, from a soldier. He would tell me stories of how celebrities would visit them, how generals would give motivational speeches, and how the speeches were nice but offered the men truly nothing considering there condition. When I think of him I think of these beatitudes of what he told me then. You see the poor in spirit do not have a sense of humility without being in the battle, the merciful don’t need mercy unless they have felt the swift kick of the ungodly, those who mourn need no comforting if they have never given up everything for his names sake, and the meek need not inherit anything if it never gets in the game. Jesus’ blessing come with a bruise because he understood that if you give everything to be his disciple, his warrior you would have some battle scares.
Discipleship is motivated in love for God. Jesus’ love for his disciples is clear here in the beatitudes, but his words stretch even further into our hearts if we meditate on them for a moment, look into the mirror honestly and ask ourselves some questions. What is the state of my heart? What is its true spiritual condition? Am I a pauper towards God? Do I know I cannot in myself prevail in prayer; I can’t blot out the sins of my past; I can not alter my disposition; That I cannot draw near to God? Then
3 “Blessed are (you) the poor in spirit,
for (yours) theirs is the kingdom of heaven
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
We cannot receive that which the Holy Spirit wishes to give until we are a pauper before God. It is our humility before God that brings him actively in our life. It is our respectfulness to his faithfulness that drives our spiritual fear before him. In our modesty the Lord gives those he calls his own. If this is you then
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth
It is Eden’s reversal for us to recognize in ourselves our condition before God. Our need of Him leaves lacking incomplete and small before Him. It truly humbles us and presents us meek. Our meekness is not a sign of how brittle we are before him in fact it becomes our strength in all we become. It boldly begins to embed in our spirit and we become obedient, submissive, and cast off our own will. For the first time one sees, truly hears, truly sees. His providence is no longer blind to us and the curse is lifted in that we now agree and are free. Free from the curse, death, the sin all that bound us that held the weight of law upon our shoulders. We are awakened and aware and know God’s reputation and fame. Do you awaken only in trouble? Then you are a slanderer! For man feeds his mind the food of flesh and says, “How hard is God with man.” Not understanding his true condition and God Love. For those who recognize this then
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
It’s easy to slander Gods name and character because he never attempts to vindicate himself. Those who know him long to follow with all of him for we have tasted his amazing grace and we are on guard with our lives, our minds, our spirit, and our hearts. We no longer strive for the things of the world bu we seek to please Him, to have his heart. So to that person he says,
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
For God so loved the world he gave his one unique Son that all those who believe may receive eternal life. God in love became poor in Spirit, mourned the lose of his creation, humbled himself to a cross, had merci upon that which he loved, remain pure even in the flesh and sought out a plan of peace for us. How much more should we who seek out his heart not feel its pulse and seek peace for others as he sought peace for us. Are we heeding the call to become and make disciples?
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
I began now to glimpse into the mind and character of Christ. I see his desire for true disciples, and through his eyes of mercy see my true state. Even worse I see the state of my Brother, my sister, my Dad, my mom, my community, my friends. I sit and ponder it and a vision comes to mind. That of a man in a desert for 40 days and nights He had no food or water, nothing from this material world to sustain him. He sat in the desert and soaked in the word of God. His name was Jesus. I want that type of hunger, I long for that type of hunger.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Nevertheless in my state I realize I can’t live up to these beatitudes. I can only count on the Holy Spirit to regenerate me, to mold me, to make me new, to sanctify unto his call. Jesus makes it simple to please him and the motive for the disciple is to do just that, to please him. These blessing is there for every one of us if we are determined to keep him first. Jesus based his teaching and life on God-realization, while others base there teachings on self-realization. Will you? There is a difference between devotion to principles and devotion to the person. Discipleship is not based on devotion to abstract ideals, but on complete devotion to the person our Lord Jesus Christ. The reward is stamped in our lives by originality in Christ. The Holy Spirit sees a chance to Glorify God and takes your whole being and sets it ablaze for God’s glory. When we walk for his sake and not for our own conscience, or our own convictions, or our own ideals we begin to understand Godly devotion and become a disciple. He in turns offers us the Kingdom.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
When you begin to deport yourself amongst men as a saint, they will leave you absolutely alone, you will be reviled and persecuted. No man can stand that unless he is in love with Jesus Christ; he cannot do it for a conviction or a creed, but he can do it for a Being Whom he loves. Devotion to a Person is the only thing that tells; devotion to death to a Person, not devotion to a creed or a doctrine.
There is a blessing for you in every circumstance but we have to devote ourselves to him. The disadvantage of a saint in the present order of things is that his confession of Jesus Christ is not to be in secret, but glaringly public. He called for us to be public with what we believe but he also equips us for the work. Jesus says you are the salt of the earth, the light to the world, a city on a hill. We are not to hid our light but let it shine. Fear isn’t in the equation Jesus himself told his own disciples, “I send you out as sheep among wolves.” Nevertheless he still sent them and they went. My question here today is are we seeking out our call, our ministry, our place in his plan. Are we disciples.