THE BEATITUDES: (Matt. 5:1-12)
Those who follow Jesus are to live according to the ideals and ethos of the Kingdom he announced and brought about in his life, death, resurrection and the promised return. This is the point of the Sermon on the Mount, and the ‘beatitudes’ in particular. They call us to live in the present in the way that will make sense in God’s promised future; because the future has arrived in the present in Jesus of Nazareth.
1. “Poor in Spirit”: Matt. 5:3- Those standing without pretense before God, stripped of all self-sufficiency, self-security, and self-righteousness. Those who in desperation turn without pretense and haughtiness to God through the person and ministry of Jesus Christ are “blessed.” They are blessed for theirs is “the kingdom of heaven”
2. “Those who mourn”: Matt. 5:4 –Mourning is an expression of bereavement which is characteristic of this life. It includes remorse and grief over one’s loss. The promise “they shall be comforted” is the announcement of divine intervention which implicitly refers to the removal of the cause of mourning. This beatitude guided me last year through my sister’s sudden death. It invoked in me a confidence of comfort based on the fact God is at work in Jesus brining that promise to fruition. Therefore, while our hope for the future does not remove the reality of our present mourning, it places our context in a different light. This beatitude announces the good news of “comfort” to those who are in despair and open to God’s work in Jesus Christ.
3. “The Meek”: Matt. 5:5- This beatitude like the first one refers to an attitude of total dependence upon God, an attitude arising out of our helpless condition as humans.
4. “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”: Matt. 5:6-The actual nature of our “hunger and thirst” may take different forms in our experiences. But it always touches on the basic necessities for living life as God intended it. God is already at work not only in accepting us into a new relationship with himself but also in supplying our needs (Matt.6:33).
5. “The Merciful”: Matt. 5:7-“The merciful” are those who forgo judgment and offer forgiveness and pardon. Because of his mercy (5:7) and acceptance of us, we can stand and live without pretense before God and others. Followers of Jesus ought to demonstrate this God-like conduct in of offering forgiveness to those in the wrong. .
6. “The pure in Heart”: Matt 5:8-(Ps. 24:4-6) this beatitude speaks of standing with total integrity before God. It deals with the very nature of our relationship with God, integrity in our entire person before God. Such honesty or transparency before God is not self-generated. As with the other beatitudes, it is a posture that comes with being confronted by God in Jesus Christ and called to an allegiance and loyalty to him (John 15).
7. “The Peace Makers”: Matt 5:10-12- Peace here is referred to in its Hebrew sense of wholeness, that which constitutes “well-being”. The “peacemakers,” therefore, are not simply those who bring peace between two conflicting parties, but those actively at work in making peace, bringing about wholeness and well-being, among the alienated. The peacemakers, as the merciful, are engaged in expressing to others what they themselves have come to experience in Jesus’ ministry. The promise is that they will be called sons of God. To make peace is to engage actively in bringing God’s redemptive purposes to bear in all of our broken society.
8. “The Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake”: This beatitude sets the stage for the examples of 5:13-16 that illustrates the disciple’s role in the world, a role that is similar to that of the prophets and to that of Jesus himself.
This is how those who belong to the announced Kingdom ought to live. As we follow Jesus, our lives will impact our broken world.