In Matthew 4:23-25, we find Jesus in the infancy of His earthly ministry traveling the area of Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all types of sickness and demon possession. From all of this Jesus starts to amass a large crowd of people following him from city to city. It’s on this particular trek that He finds Himself at the foot of one of the “mountains” on the shore of the sea of Galilee. Matthew 5:1-2 tells us what He did next, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying…”. What Jesus began to teach from this moment would change everything. This “Sermon on the Mount” would be the very basis of all His kingdom teaching from this point forward. It would turn everything upside down and challenge the status que of the religion of the day. This groundbreaking, paradigm shifting sermon would start off with nine simple statements. These statements, often called the beatitudes, are simple to read and grasp, but are as complex and deep in wisdom as any other part of Jesus’ sermon.
Matthew 5:3-12, “3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive 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 have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”.
What are the beatitudes? They can be broken down into two aspects, the blessings, and the rewards. The Greek word translated “blessed” means “happy, blissful” or, literally, “to be enlarged.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the word to refer to more than a superficial happiness; in this context, blessed refers to a state of spiritual well-being and prosperity. The happiness is a deep joy of the soul. Those who experience the first aspect of a beatitude (poor, mourn, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and persecuted) will also experience the second aspect of the beatitude (kingdom of heaven, comfort, inherit the earth, filled, mercy, see God, called sons of God, inherit the kingdom of heaven). The blessed have a share in salvation and have entered the kingdom of God, experiencing a foretaste of heaven.
Why are these statements so important to us today? What can we learn from the fact that in Jesus’ most famous sermon, He leads off with these thoughts? I believe what we find in Matthew 5:3-12 is so much more than just guidelines for righteousness, but rather a recipe for true discipleship. In this verse we find the blueprints of how a Christian attitude should be in every aspect of life. This prescription provides us an equation to funnel everything in life through. If we can employ these components into our day-to-day mindset, then we can stand confident to handle anything life throws at us. It all comes down to the “If”. Are you prepared to take a long hard look at your attitude and hold it up to the beatitudes for comparison?
Often times you hear parents tell their children, “fix your attitude”. I wonder if our heavenly Father looks down at us at times and thinks, “fix your (eyes on the) beatitudes” when it comes to our outlook on life itself. Let us consider these statements found in Matthew 5:3-12 and see how we can better reflect a true disciple’s attitude.