The Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes: 5:1-16.
(Read Matt 5:1-12; Luke 6: 20-49).
Blessed are the Poor in spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 5:3
The Sermon on the Mount is the most in-depth teaching of Jesus Christ. In this Sermon, Jesus teaches what the kingdom of God looks like. This is the longest recorded sermon of Jesus Christ. This message is not for the unsaved but for the disciples. This sermon describes how Christians should live as followers of Jesus in a broken world. This sermon has application to Christians today because it includes tax collectors, hypocrites and false prophets. The Greek word “Blessed” simply means happy. It means deep lasting inner sense of well-being and contentment regardless of circumstances. True and lasting happiness come from God. Worldly pleasures give only the superficial and temporary happiness. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3). They recognize that they are sinners and do not have the strength to please God. They realize their desperate need of God’s forgiveness and admit that they are spiritually destitute without God. They are not proud in the spirit. Without dependence on Christ we can't please God. Those who admit their spiritual poverty will inherit the kingdom of God.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4).
Those who admit their sinful condition and mourn over it will be comforted by God. Our God is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3). God helps the helpless in their needs. Those who mourn over their sin will be comforted by leading them to repentance. Godly sorrow will produce repentance that leads to salvation (2 Cor 7:10). Those who are saved experience joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet 1:8). Joy is a Christian virtue.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matt 5:5).
Those who are meek shall inherit the blessedness of the kingdom of God. The humble people admit before God that they are spiritually lost. Making a honest assessment of ourselves is very important. Meekness is not weakness but rather “power under control”. The more we humble, the more we will rely on God’s grace. They treat others with kindness. They shall inherit the earth when Christ returns and reign with Him. These three qualities are the root of Christian life. Because of pride, we are often reluctant to admit our spiritual poverty before God. Only those who are honest with themselves and humble before God will be blessed. There is a Kingdom blessing yet to come.
Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness: (Matt 5:6).
Those who are saved hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is the proof of their salvation. The desire for personal righteousness is a God given hunger and thirst. It is the by-product of regenerated life. Natural man is spiritually blind and does not seek God (Rom 3:11). Christ came to seek and save those who are spiritually dead (Luke 19:10). Only God can satisfy our spiritual hunger. He satisfies the longing soul and fills them with goodness (Psalms 107:9).
Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matt 5:7).
God is merciful and in his divine love extends mercy to all those who trust in Christ (Matt 11:29). God knows our frame and remembers that we are dust (Psalms 103:14). Jesus became the ultimate example of mercy. He prayed “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). The believers show mercy because they understand their own need for God’s mercy. The mercy is produced by the Holy Spirit. The Christians show mercy because they have received mercy. They help those who are in need (Luke 10:25-37). No one can earn mercy by doing good deeds. Mercy covers multitude of sins and gently instruct those who oppose the truth (1 Pet 4:8; 2 Tim 2:25).
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt 5:8).
The Christian life is transformed by the grace of God. Purity of heart is the goal of our salvation (Eph 1:4; Titus 2:14). God has chosen us that we should be holy. We are not yet sinless but our position before God has been changed
(2 Cor 5:17). "Holy" simply means different or separate. We must pursue holiness because God is holy. Those who are not holy will not see the Lord (Heb 12:14). The believers are made holy in Christ when they got saved. That is our identity. They should follow peace with all and holiness. The blood Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7-9).
Blessed are the Peacemakers: (Matt 5:9).
Those who trust in Christ are at peace with God (Rom 5:1). They are peacemakers because they themselves are at peace with God. Once they were at enmity with God. There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22). God has called us to peace (1 Cor 7:15). He brought peace through the death of His son Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ is the means of reconciliation and peace. Those who are at peace with God can live in peace with others (Heb 12:14). They are the peacemakers and will be called sons of God (5:9). Peace flows from undivided devotion toward God (James 3:17). Jesus clearly underscores that only a transformed life can experience this peace.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Matt 5:10).
Christians will face persecution in the world because they do not belong to this world system (John 16:33). All those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). It does not mean every Christian will suffer death and physical abuse. But they must be willing to withstand social pressure and temptations and not to assimilate with world system. They will inherit the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you when others mocked and lie about you on Christ account (Matt 5:11-12).
Jesus warns that believers shall face persecution. This is true throughout the church history. Someone has said "The blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church". Christ warns that these persecutions are twofold; physical and personal attack of slander against us. Those who suffer persecution should rejoice exceedingly because their reward will be great in heaven. Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed to us (Rom 8:18). Pray that God would help us to reflect these spiritual qualities in a world of conflicts and violence.
You are the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world: (Matt 5:13).
This is the summary statement of the Christian life. It is not a command, but something we are by virtue of being in Christ. The salt adds flavor, acts as a preservative, melts coldness and heals wounds. This speaks of how we should impact the world in our relationship with others. Our lives will produce either positive or negative results in the society. Christians should bring purity where there is decay, flavor to life and creates thirst in others to know God. If the salt loses its flavor, it is no longer good for anything (Matt 5:13). The implication here is that if Christians lose their effectiveness, their testimony will be trampled under the feet of unbelievers. We are called to be the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world (Matt 5:14-16).
This describes our mission in the world. Jesus said “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). He brought spiritual light into the world. In Him was life and the life was the light of all mankind (John 1:4). Jesus is the source of light. The smallest light can dispel the greatest darkness. The world is under spiritual darkness. As Christians, we are to be the light in the world. The more we allow Christ to control our life, the more we reflect his light. This creates an appetite for God in the hearts of people. This light or lamp should not be put under a basket but on a stand (Matt 5:15). Believers must keep their lives clean in order that the light of God may shines through them. Let our light shine before others that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matt 5:15-16). Darkness is the absence of light.
Christ Fulfills the Law
(Read Matt 5:17-20)
Jesus describes the superiority of his message over the law. He came to fulfill the law and prophets (Matt 5:17). They testify of Christ (John 5:39). Jesus is the fulfillment of the spiritual intention of the law (Rom 10:4). Pharisees turned the law into outward observance and into legalism. Their walk did not match their talk (Matt 15:8). Jesus met all the demands of the law and fulfilled the righteousness. Christ wants his disciples to live a life of doing what is right. The religious leader's problem was that their hearts didn't match their actions (Matt 23:3-7). Unlike Pharisees, Jesus taught with authority (Matt 5:18). Jesus assures that until heaven and earth disappear even the smallest detail of the law will pass from the law until all is accomplished. The law was given to point out our need of the Savior (Gal 3:24). Whoever breaks the least of the law and teach others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of God. Jesus said "Your righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes". The Pharisees and Scribes did everything to impress others and their righteousness was outwardly (23:3-7). Our obedience should flow from a changed heart.
God Looks at Heart
(Read Matt 5:21-32)
Jesus contrasts his teaching with the law. The Law of Moses commands “You shall not murder or commit adultery (Ex 20:13). Jesus explains that these sinful behaviors are rooted in sinful desires. The emotion that leads to murder is anger in most cases. So, we must give attention to the motives that drive us into actions. God is not interested in heartless moral deeds from his people. Christian behavior should flow from a transformed heart. God will not accept our worship unless we are willing to resolve personal conflict with others (Matt 5:24). Many people engage in religious activities to suppress their guilt. It is better to come to terms with enemy before it is too late (Matt 5:25-26). The lustful look comes from sinful heart. We must flee from those things (Matt 5:30). Repeated lustful gazing is as sinful as committing the act of adultery. The remedy is to fix our thought on Christ (Phil 4:8; Rom 13:14; 2 Cor 10:5). We must seek God’s help to bring the desires under the control of the Holy Spirit. Great care must be given to marriage and divorce. The Arab custom says husband can divorce his wife saying three times “I divorce you”. Jews insisted on a certificate of divorce to give legal protection to both the wife and the husband. Moses’ concession was not intended to be taken as license for divorce (Matt 19:8). The adultery and unfaithfulness during marriage possibly the reason for divorce. The scripture does not permit divorce. In fact, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Forgiveness can lead to reconciliation (Hos 3:1; Gen 38:26). “Everyone who divorces his wife except on the ground of sexual immorality makes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt 5:32).
Teaching about Oaths and Revenge
(Read Matt 5:33-42)
Oath taken in the name of the Lord speaks of its sanctity and binding (Deut 23:21). Jesus says that such oath taking is unnecessary if we speak the truth. The Christians should not take oath by the name of God. Our “yes” must mean yes and our “no” must mean no. It does not mean it is not wrong to take oath in the court of law. The principle of retaliation is common among many people. Jesus taught that Christians should not attempt personal retaliation. God will repay vengeance to those who deserve it (Rom 12:19). This does not mean that we should not defend family or our country. The believers should overcome evil with good ( Matt 5:8; Rom 12:21). They should trust God even when legal litigation goes against them. “If someone takes your coat from you by force, give your expensive outer garment also. The idea is that "When a Roman solder compels to carry his armor for one mile go the extra mile to prove your commitment to Christ”. The believers should not set bad examples and attempt to share the gospel with others. When we lend something to people, don’t expect anything in return. There are many warning against borrowing and cross-signing in the scriptures (Proverbs 6:1; 11:15; 22:7; 27:13). We should help those who are in need (Matt 5:42).
Love your Enemies
(Read Matt 5:43-48)
The law of love summarizes the sermon on the Mount. We are commanded to love one another. This summarizes the entire second table of the Law (Leviticus 19:18-34). Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). We can love our enemies by praying and helping them in their needs. Only by loving we can win over those who hate us. Our love for them is proof of our salvation (1 John 3:14). It shows that we are truly the children of God. God sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt 5:45). Unbelievers love those who love them. Even tax collectors love their friends. We love others because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus said “You are to be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). The word “Perfect” means “complete and mature". It does not mean absolute sinless perfection. Those who believe in Jesus are “Perfect” in Christ. They are complete in the finished work Jesus Christ on the cross. Do you have a humble heart of love and compassion for others?