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The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“The Beatitudes”

(Matthew 5:1-12)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

September 2, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Have you ever experienced the most famous of anything? For instance, I’ve seen the most famous American canyon, the Grand Canyon; I’ve sat under the preaching one of the most famous preachers in our time, John Piper; I graduated from the most famous Southern Baptist Seminary, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky; and I’ve been to the most famous city in the world, New York City. 

 

Well, here we are continuing our series in the book of Matthew. We saw last week that Jesus has begun His ministry and many people are coming to experience His ministry. 

In the passage this morning, people are coming to hear Jesus preach a sermon. 

This sermon is said by many to be the most famous sermon in the history of human civilization. 

Let’s look at the passage together. Look in your Bibles at Matthew 5 starting in verse 1. You’ll want to keep your Bibles open after we read the passage. 

Read the Passage

Read Matthew 5:1-12

1 When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to teach them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the humble,

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 the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

This passage we just looked at is the beginning of the famous sermon called, “The Sermon on the Mount.”

The Sermon on the Mount is given to us in Matthew chapters 5-7. 

This sermon is called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus is teaching from a mountainside, or hillside.

The sermon should probably be called, “The Sermon on the Mountainside.”

One characteristic to note about the Sermon on the Mount are the similarities between Jesus’ happenings here and the experience of Moses when he delivered the law at Mt. Sinai to the people of Israel. Some seasoned students of the Bible will notice these similarities, and Matthew’s Jewish audience certainly would have noticed the similarities. That’s a little bit of extra information some of you may find interesting. 

(pause)

So, we begin the Sermon on the Mount. 

In this passage Jesus is preaching to those identified as “his disciples.”

There is some debate as to exactly who his disciples are in this passage. 

Does this refer to His apostles or does this refer to any follower of Jesus at that time?

When Jesus saw the crowds did He go up the mountain in order to teach them all, or did He go up there to escape the crowds and only teach a small group?

Well, we really don’t know for sure. 

Here’s my thought: Jesus probably saw a lot of people gathered and moved to another area that would be more conducive to teaching and began to teach those who wanted to come and hear His teaching. 

I don’t think Jesus was turning people away who wanted to hear His teaching. At the same time, I don’t imagine that all of the crowds went up to hear Him, as some were probably more interested in seeing miracles or some kind of show. 

So, He goes up to teach those who are willing to listen.

He begins this famous sermon by teaching a section that we have come to know as “The Beatitudes.”

If you’re like me, you may wonder why these are called “the Beatitudes.”  What’s a beatitude anyways?

Well, the term beatitude comes from the Latin translations of the word, blessing.

So, this section of the Sermon on the Mount (which we can call the Sermon on the Mountainside) is called the Beatitudes (which we can call the Blessings).

Do we have it all sorted out?

Ok.

Remember, also (as we learned last week), that Jesus called people to the kingdom of heaven and to repentance. He wanted them to turn away from the ways of the world and turn to the ways of God. In this passage He reveals a picture of what it means to live for God, and blessings follow. 

So, as we look at these blessings, we’re going to see that this passage shows us that  blessings come from at least three sources. 

First, . . .

I. Blessings come from lowliness (vv. 3-5) [on screen]

Look in your Bible again at verses 3 through 5. 

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the humble,

for they will inherit the earth.

We see these three traits mentioned: poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the humble. 

Poor in spirit refers to realizing that everything inside us pales in comparison with God’s greatness. 

We are nothing compared to God’s greatness. 

We are poor compared to God’s richness. 

We are told that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such people: those who realize that they are nothing and God is everything. 

Those who mourn are those who are suffering for a variety of reasons. 

Suffering and the results of living in a sinful world are a reality for those who follow God’s ways. 

Mourning comes to those who truly follow Christ, because the ways of this world are not the ways of God. As a result, life is hard at times for those that follow Jesus. 

Jesus said that those who are mourning will be comforted. 

Finally, humility refers to thinking of oneself less. 

Notice, I didn’t say that humility was thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. 

Some of your translations may say “meek” here. Meekness means being gentle with others.

Humility puts the needs of others ahead of your own needs, and so does meekness. 

Jesus said that even though someone who is humble may go without a lot of things in this life, they will in fact one day inherit the earth. 

That’s a pretty good inheritance!

With this first source of blessing that Jesus mentions we already see a categorical difference between the way of the world and the way of God. 

The listeners of Jesus would have witnessed the power and strength of the religious rulers, as well as the Roman government. 

They would know that this is not the normal way to acquire prosperity and blessings. 

It’s no different in our day and time. Business moguls, politicians, athletes, celebrities, and even some church leaders want you to know how powerful they are, how intelligent they are, how loud they can be, and how talented they are, so that they can gain more power, more privilege, and more prestige. 

This is not the way for the person pursuing the kingdom of God!

Jesus says, true blessing comes from lowliness. 

Second, . . .

II. Blessings come from holiness (vv. 6-9) [on screen]

Let’s look at the passage again: verses 6 through 9. 

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.

So, in this passage we see four characteristics that speak to a person’s character or holiness: a yearning for righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peacemaking. 

When it comes to righteousness, people who follow Christ must desire it so much that they hunger and thirst for it. 

Righteousness is wanting something to be the way that it should be in God’s eyes. It is for something to be morally good. 

Do you hunger and thirst for that? If you do, Jesus says you will be filled! Filled by God! How great is that?

Jesus also says, blessed are the merciful. 

There’s a really good reason to be merciful: God will show you mercy!

To be merciful means to not be looking to get even all of the time, but rather to overlook offenses and wrongs done to you. 

Are you merciful? If so, God will show you mercy. 

Also, the pure in heart will see God. 

We know from the Scriptures that none of us are inherently pure and righteous on our own. 

So, then, how are we to be pure in heart?

We are pure in heart by surrendering our hearts to Jesus, and having our hearts made new. 

When we truly surrender our hearts to Him and seek to live purely through Him, then we will be able to see God. 

Finally, we see that peacemakers shall be called sons of God. 

That’s a big deal to be called “sons of God.”

Of course, the idea here is that we would be heirs of God. Remember, at the time Jesus gave this sermon, only sons would be considered heirs. Jesus is saying that any of us who are true peacemakers would be heirs of God. 

Are you seeking to make peace?

We can make peace practically speaking by seeking to be humble, bringing about resolution when possible, and encouraging others to be people of peace. 

Also, we can be peacemakers in the most magnificent way by pointing people to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. 

Seek to show the peace of God and take people to the true Peacemaker and you will receive the inheritance of God. How marvelous that is!

Righteousness, mercy, purity, and peace are characteristics that God possesses, and they are characteristics of someone who is seeking to live for the kingdom of God and seeking a holy life in Jesus. 

Looking at the third source, we see . . . 

 

III. Blessings come from persecution (vv. 10-12) [on screen]

Notice verses 10-12. 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

11 “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Have I already pointed out how the ways of God are so different from the ways of the world?

Can you imagine how odd this was for everyone to hear? Just picture everyone gathered on the side of the mountain listening to Jesus teach and He says, “You are blessed when you’re insulted and persecuted. As a matter of fact, you’re blessed when they say every kind of evil against you.”

They must have been thinking, “Are you kidding me?”

And, Jesus says that this persecution is coming because of Him.

Up to this point, Matthew hasn’t revealed Jesus having too many enemies, yet Jesus is saying that they will face persecution because they follow Him. 

This is stunning. 


(pause)

The way of the world says that if something bad is happening to you it’s because of something bad that you’ve done. 

Jesus flips that on it’s head. You may be persecuted for following and obeying the Son of God. 

You may suffer for being loving, holy, truthful, good, humble, and righteous. 

However, the blessing that comes from this persecution is twofold: first, you will be considered like one of the prophets who are the great heroes of the faith. Second, you will receive a reward in heaven because you endured for the cause of Christ. 

By suffering now, you will be rewarded greatly later. 

Blessings come from persecution. 

Concluding Thoughts:

So, the people of Jesus’ day would have heard Jesus tell them to prepare for the coming of the kingdom of heaven. Upon hearing that, they would have surely wondered how they must live to prepare for the coming kingdom. 

Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mountainside to tell them the way followers of God must live. Now, as followers of God, we must live this way also. 

We must understand that in order to find any of these blessings, in order to live this way, we must be in Jesus. We cannot live as God requires on our own, and as such, we cannot experience blessing on our own. 

We need Jesus!

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Without Jesus, we are sinful, evil at heart, and unable to enter into God’s kingdom; unable to come to the Father. 

We not only need Jesus for forgiveness, we also need Jesus in order to live a humble life, in order to live a holy life, and in order to endure a persecuted life. 

We need to follow the ways of God and not the ways of this world, and we will be blessed. 

That’s our bottom line . . .

Bottom Line: The blessings of God are not found in the ways of the world.  [on screen]

(repeat)

In order to find true blessing, we must seek Jesus and His ways. 

We must seek lowliness, holiness, and we must endure persecution. 

Here’s our weekly challenge for this week:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Pick one of the beatitudes and seek to live it out this week.  [on screen]

Seek to be humble, seek to be pure, seek to be merciful. Whichever!

Some might say, “Pastor, shouldn’t we do all of these things?” Yes! But for this week, focus on at least one and live it out, then add another, and so on.  

  1. Discuss with someone the contrast between the ways of God and the ways of the world.  [on screen]

Here’s an opportunity for you to live on mission for God. 

Tell someone about how the ways of God are so different from the ways of the world. 

Do so in a positive way, not in a negative way. 

Show them the real love that God shows. Show them a picture of the kingdom of heaven. 

Closing:

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is giving us God’s standard for living. However, so many of us don’t measure up to that standard. 

As I said earlier, we need Jesus to change us so we can live up to the standard that God has for us. We need Jesus’ help for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. 

If we are changed and we live for God, we will be blessed! Not with the blessings of the world, but with the blessings of God, which are so much better. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Wherever He Leads I’ll Go

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

There will be no service tonight due to the Labor Day holiday. If you don’t have plans, join a brother or sister in Christ, or invite a neighbor over to your house. 

One announcement in your bulletin that I want to draw your attention to: next week we will have some special guests. The Mills family serve with the International Mission Board in Central Asia. They are also great friends of my family. Next, week we’ll get to hear about their work for the gospel. They will be with us morning and evening next week. Go ahead and make plans to be here in the morning and evening. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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