Sermon on the Mount: The Beattitudes

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,  and he began to teach them.

He said:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

-Matthew 5:1-12

In Matthew, Jesus kicks off the sermon on the mount with the beatitudes in chapter 5. He begins to outline what being a citizen in the Kingdom of Heaven is going to look like. We find out pretty quickly that being a citizen in God’s Kingdom is going to look vastly different than being a part of any other kingdom that exists. Jesus starts out his sermon by indicating that following Him means a whole different way of thinking about how the world works and how one should live in it who follows Jesus. We gain more insight as we read more of the sermon.

In the beatitudes, Jesus begins to establish a counter-cultural way of thinking and living. We see what kinds of thinks He values and the kinds of things we should value. The world tends to value strength, power, safety, comfort, fame, and fortune. We lift those up who are articulate and charismatic. Our culture values celebrity and fame. We value those who are workaholics and honor those who have something they can do for us. The value of a person is most often based on what they produce over and above the fact that they are created in God’s image. Worldly values are often at odds with the God’s values and Jesus begins to make clear that the Kingdom of God has a different value system than the world.

What Jesus spells out for us in these verse seems counterintuitive to worldly wisdom. As we read through, we find that blessings come to the weak and the powerless. Favor comes to those who are in need of comfort, who show mercy, and who are desperate for righteousness. Blessing comes to those who work to make peace and bring reconciliation instead of conflict. Those that are persecuted for their faith will find their inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is establishing a Kingdom ethic that stands apart from the worlds value system. We see God’s heart for the lost, the suffering, and the marginalized. Jesus shows us that there is a better way to live than what the world tells us. Discipleship isn’t an easy path, but it is a blessed path. It isn’t free of pain or suffering. In fact, we find out elsewhere in scripture that we can expect pain and suffering. Those that encounter that suffering our close to God’s heart and will find blessing in the middle of it as they follow Jesus.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do your values look more like worldly values or kingdom values?
  2. Does your treatment of people reflect that they are created in God’s image or that they can provide you with something?
  3. Are engaged with those that mourn and grieve, those that are searching, or those that are on the margins? Do you show preferential treatment to those that look and act like you?
  4. Are you on the difficult path of discipleship or are you seeking blessing and favor elsewhere?
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