The night before He was to preach the greatest sermon ever spoken, Jesus spent the night alone upon a mountain near the Sea of Galilee. All night Jesus spent in prayer for these chosen ones. Not just His chosen disciples that daily sat at His feet, but for all His disciples all through the ages. When dawn came, He called the disciples to Him and, with words of prayer and instruction, laid His hands upon their heads in benediction, setting them apart for the gospel work. He then returned with them to the seaside, where in the early morning a great multitude had begun to assemble
Then, as now the narrow beach did not offer enough space for all of those gathered to clearly hear Him. Resolving to provide space for the whole multitude to listen to His words, Jesus led the way back to the mountainside, and upon reaching a level space that afforded a pleasant gathering place for the vast assembly, He seated Himself upon the grass. The disciple and the multitude followed His example with the disciples sitting at the very feet of Jesus. We should also follow their example and sit at the feet of Jesus listening to these words spoken by Christ to his disciples as a sermon of consecration and dedication.
If one desires to be a disciple of Christ, what is expected of them? What attitudes are they to possess? The next 3 chapters of Matthew is the greatest sermon ever preached. It outlines the type of person who is qualified to become a disciple of Christ.
It seems every time I read these three chapters or preach from a section of these verses I am so humbled and feel so unworthy to be called a servant of Christ.
Before we begin to unfold the teachings of Jesus, we should all remember that nothing Jesus taught in these three chapters is new or revolutionary! All these principles were taught in the Old Testament. Christ dusted off the truth of the scriptures, doing away with manmade traditions in order to bring the true light of these teachings back into focus.
An interesting note on what has become known as the Beatitudes. If they are divided into 10 parts then they go hand in hand with the 10 commandments as stated in Exodus 20:1-17. The first four dealing with our relationship with God while the last six is about our relationship with our fellow mankind. So I have decided to break them down this way and deal with the first four in this post and the last 6 in the next post.
1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then 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 those mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
John the beloved disciples of Jesus wrote in the book of Revelation, 17 Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing” and do not know that you are wretched, miserable poor, blind, and naked – 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich; and White garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be reveled; and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see. Revelation 3:17, 18
The Jews of Christ’s day, particularly the religious leaders, felt they were spiritually rich and therefore in need of nothing. They had all these great truths as told to them by Moses and the prophets, along with and their traditions. God had promised them land from which they would become a great witness to all nations. However, one can only truly be a great witness for God when they see their own great spiritual need and stand before God clothed in filthy rags for their earthly wealth means nothing before the Lord.
God is looking for a people that recognize they are spiritually poor and are willing to purchase from Him refined gold, as in a character molded after Christ’s character, which has been purified by the fiery trials of life. They are able to stand before God, their lives an open book as though naked before God realizing they can only be clothed with the spotless pure robe of Christ’s righteousness. He is looking for those who see their spiritual condition and allow the soothing Spirit of God to heal and cleanse their eyes that have been marred by the sight of injustice in the world. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The first step toward salvation is to realize your spiritual need. When someone feels they are rich, there is no feeling of need for Christ in their life.
Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Nobody likes a cry baby or someone that walks around with their head down around their knees all day. But this isn’t the type of mourning that is being talked about. The mourning here is true heartfelt sorrow for sin. Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” John 12:32. As one is drawn to behold Jesus uplifted on the cross, he sees the total sinfulness of humanity. He begins to comprehend that it is sin which scourged and crucified the Lord of glory as He hung on the cross. He sees that, while he has been loved with unspeakable tenderness, his life has been a continual scene of ingratitude and rebellion. The sinner feels he has forsaken his best Friend and abused heaven’s most precious gift. Each sin that is committed brings anew the realization that he has crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and pierced anew that bleeding and stricken heart. He is separated from God by a gulf of sin that is broad, black and deep, and he mourns in brokenness of heart.
It is this that makes his heart mourn, but Christ reassures us the repentant sinner that we shall be comforted. By admitting our guilt and seeking a relationship with the Creator, we are assured comfort.
God “does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Lamentations 3:33. When He permits trials and afflictions, it is “for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10. And to each of His children who mourn sin He has promised comfort.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Patience and gentleness are characteristics that are unpleasing to man. Mankind is driven by being the best, outdoing one another in an attempt to better their position in life. Yet Jesus placed meekness among the first qualifications for His kingdom. In Christ’s own life and character this divine attribute was so graciously revealed in his every action and deed. Never, not even once, did he place his needs before another’s. The very act of Christ dying on the cross showed a willingness to place others before His own needs. As a Christian, this too should become an attribute that guides our lives and shines from our heart to lighten the way of mankind.
Jesus emptied Himself, in that all He did, self-did not appear. He subordinated all things to the will of His Father. When His mission on earth was about to close, He could say, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gave Me to do.” John 17:4. And He bids us, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself” (Matthew 11:29; 16:24); let self be dethroned and no longer hold the supremacy of the soul.
To those that place themselves before others, Christ has promised that they will not be partakers in the heavenly kingdom.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Righteousness is not obtained by painful struggles, wearisome toil, nor gift or sacrifice. Instead it is freely given to every soul who hungers and thirsts to receive it. “To, every one that is thirsty, come you to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat, . . . without money and without price.” “Their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord,” and, “This is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.” Isaiah 55:1; 54:17; Jeremiah 23:6
God longs for his earthly children to develop a relationship with him that causes his followers to thirst and hunger after Jesus.
This is the kind of relationship that Christ longs his disciples on earth to develop with Him. A relationship in which these characteristics, Christ’s character, is reproduced in their lives.
If this can be accomplished then the next 6 are simple . . .