Thursday morning greetings to each and to all!
You fellows still remember that last Lord's Day Pastor John spoke to us using Matthew 5:1-12 which began Jesus's fundamental teaching – first to His disciples and then to the rest of us - in His Sermon on the Mount:
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
2 and he began to teach them the Beatitudes (from the Latin word for “blessings”)
You recall a couple days ago we noted that Jesus spoke of the blessings in the order they are in very intentionally.
So, we looked at the first Beatitude first:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
At length we understood very clearly as Pastor John told us, that being “poor in spirit” means realizing and confessing in our heart of hearts that we are broken people. Once that basic understanding is established, we go on:
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Those who mourn are those who have true heartfelt sorrow and anguish when confronted by the woes of this world – sin and the many sufferings that have been our portion in life on earth since Adam and Eve's original sin. If we have confessed our brokenness, then through the inevitable pain of mourning we come at length to see ourselves as we truly are — created in His likeness to know and commune with Him in true love.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Meek” is today quite misunderstood, as Pastor John said. Meek is a Middle English term that meant “strength under control”. A meek horse was a healthy, powerful animal but it did not run wild according to whatever primal urges goading it. Instead the meek horse always obeyed its master's prompts in using its strength. If we are truly meek, then we will use whatever powers that He has bestowed on each of us to show His glory. His only begotten Son in the Sermon on the Mount promised the meek among us a marvelous inheritance.
These last two blessings: do you fellows see that they are dependent on the first one? So also the following:
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Pastor John explained to us that this hunger and thirst means that you want to live your life wholely for Jesus. All throughout His earthly ministry Jesus emphasized that truly following Him was not a part-time matter:
Just one example Mark 10:21: Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." This, and many other examples of verse, mean the same thing: Commiment to Jesus and His teachings are first and foremost. Everything else in your life is secondary to this; is dependent on this. If you truly have been broken then you will have this hunger and thirst for righteousness.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Remember what Jesus said about judging people? “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). This does NOT mean that we excuse the moral lawlessness and libertinism of this world! What Jesus meant in this beatitude is that when we recognize the failings of others we also have compassion for them as He has had compassion for each of us. We pray that our errant fellows will see their sins through His grace as He has also empowered us to see our own many grievous sins.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
A pure heart is a heart that has nothing to do with falsehood. How many times has a lie or deceit been convenient in our ungodly, unholy daily lives? If we are truly broken from Satan's wiles, we have a profound change of heart.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
We are born in original sin and so are naturally enemies of God. If at some point in this life we have been broken to His love and will, then our first rule in our new life is to live our lives as His witness to all those around us. In doing so, we begin, as Pastor John said, to reconcile others to God, that they make peace with God.
And, when men can make peace with God, they are truly able to make peace with each other.
What could be more blessed?