Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 5:7

With the disciples sitting at the feet of Jesus and the multitude pressing close to hear every word that passed from the lips of Jesus, He changes from the disciple’s relationship with God to our relationship with mankind.

7 Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Of all the personality traits outlined in the Bible, showing mercy toward your fellow man is the most Godlike trait any person can have. Many have viewed God the Father as a stern, vengeful God. This couldn’t be further from the truth for the Father’s love was shown in every action Christ performed while on earth.

God is Himself the source of all mercy. His name is “merciful and gracious.” Exodus 34:6. He does not treat us according to what we deserve. He does not ask if we are worthy of His love, but He pours upon us the riches of His love, to make us worthy. He is not vindictive. He seeks not to punish, but to redeem.

I John 4:19 tells us: “We love because He (God) first loved Us.” Without Christ the heart of man is by nature cold and dark and unloving. Whenever one manifests a spirit of mercy and forgiveness, he does it not of himself, but through the influence of the Holy Spirit moving upon his heart.

Job when he summarized his defense said: “12 Because I delivered the poor who cried out, the fatherless and the one who had no helper. 13 The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. 14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the poor and I searched out the case that I did not know. Job 29:12-16

The merciful are “partakers of the divine nature,” and in them the compassionate love of God finds expression. All whose hearts are in sympathy with the heart of Infinite Love will seek to reclaim and not to condemn. Christ dwelling in the soul is a spring of living water that will never run dry. Where He abides, there will be an overflowing of generosity.

To the appeal of the erring, the tempted, the wretched victims of sin, the Christian or the Church should never ask, “Are they worthy?” Instead our attitude should be how can be a benefit to them? In the most wretched, the most debased, the Christian should see souls whom Christ died to save and for whom God has given to His church the ministry of reconciliation.

When the Christian sitting in the pews can show this kind of Mercy, then they in turn will receive mercy.

Matthew 7:13 – 14 says. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.   Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

How can they find the narrow way if we fail to show them mercy. If the light is God is truly shining forth from our hearts then we can light their way to the narrow gate.

Then he continued . . .

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 5:1-6

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 . . .

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 4:23-25

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him-from galilee, and from Decapolis, Jer5usalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

In an age without phones, television, or internet, it almost seems fantastical that such a wide area of the world could or would soon hear about the works of Jesus. Yet we must remember that the area near Zebulon and Naphtali was the crossroads of the ancient world. People from distant lands traveled these lands, bringing goods from the Mediterranean Sea to Europe while goods from Europe and Africa were brought through this area to the distant lands in the East.

What better way to spread the good news of the Gospel than centering the work of Christ in the area that was most visible to the world at large, the Israelite population was scattered in communities all over the world. From there, talk of the promised Messiah coming and the prophesying of the Kingdom of God would spread, awakening the hearts of mankind all over the world.

For the people that lived in this area and those who traveled through and stopped to hear His teaching they found it had an edge to it. A way of looking at these age old scriptures that brought new meaning, substance and understanding to the people. But it was more than just teaching for Jesus, for daily He healed the physical ailments of the people. The list of things he would heal of is quite astounding and is evidence that Christ was not just interested in their spiritual condition alone, but also in their physical needs as well.

As a follower of Christ what are we interested in? Are we interested in the physical condition of those we meet or just the spiritual? Christ knew that the way to a person’s heart was to meet their physical needs. Did all who came to Jesus to be healed accept his message? Certainly not, and even today when we minister to people in a physical way, it is no guarantee they will accept our invitation to become followers of Christ. Did that stop Jesus from ministering to their needs? Certainly not, and neither should it stop us.

Jumping ahead to Matthew 25:37-40 Christ answers this for us when He is talking about His second coming. 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to You?” 40 And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

To be a true follower of Christ we must exemplify Christ in all our actions and deeds. We must be willing to put our most cherished earthly desires to rest and take up a life of service for our Lord and Saviour. Christ was concerned for the whole being, the complete person. Are we?

Jesus was about to preach the greatest sermon ever spoken, but before he did he 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 he prayed for them as well. Then at the dawn He called the disciples to Him and, with words of prayer and instruction, laid His hands upon their heads in benediction, setting them apart to the gospel work. Then He returned with them to the seaside, where in the early morning a great multitude had already begun to assemble . . .

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