The Beatitudes8 min read
Just before giving the Beatitudes the Lord chose His twelve apostles. This is actually His teaching for them, and when we are new disciples it will do us good to study them. As disciples, we should seek first His kingdom. Studying this should give us a further understanding of it. We, as Job, should appreciate these words more than our necessary food.
The Poor in Spirit
Being poor in spirit does not refer to one who is spiritually deprived. It rather denotes one whose character is humility. The Lord’s first piece of advice given to His disciples was in regards to humility. How significant this is, even for us today. It is clear from this that the first step towards obedience to Christ is humility. One must realize their helplessness, turn from their pride, and follow Christ. Those who are willing to humble themselves at the foot of the cross are truly blessed. Those who are willing to deny themselves and follow Him have the promise of inheriting Heaven, for those who are in Christ are joint-heirs with Christ. When there is no denial of self, there is no following Christ.
Those Who Mourn
Regarding the fact that the Beatitudes was teaching for the disciples, this would be significant for them, because in their walk with the Lord they would mourn. The reason for the mourning would vary, but the principle was still there. In our culture today mourning is generally supposed to be avoided, but Christ said those who mourn are blessed. Perhaps the disciples thought this strange, but when we consider that those who mourn will be comforted, it makes sense. The blessing of comfort would be stronger faith and a better understanding of the Lord’s work. This is far better than avoiding grief. This is a closer relationship with Him, a priceless treasure. When we mourn we can find comfort in Him. Truly in trials we can rejoice, because we know the one who is behind and over all.
Meekness is linked with humility, but it’s meaning is more specific. Meekness isn’t weakness, but rather it is strength under control. It is the voluntary action of taking the lower place, the regular place. He is gentle, whether in character or lifestyle. The promise to the meek is an inheritance of the earth. When one takes the lower position the Lord sees that person as one who is capable and worthy of managing much. It is a case of being faithful in the little things. This was an exhortation to the disciples to be lowly rather than thinking of themselves more highly than they ought to think.
Thirsting After Righteousness
If the disciples were to live their life for the Lord to the full, they had to pursue righteousness like never before, because this is the only way to “be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Throughout Psalms and Proverbs, there is a clear contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Wickedness is abhorred by the Lord, while the righteous are blessed. There should be no such thing as a Christian who does not pursue righteousness as he would pursue water in a desert. If we truly want to be like Christ we must diligently seek Him, for we will be filled. He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Let us seek after His righteousness.
Though the disciples were to be righteous and uphold justice as the Lord, they never were to neglect mercy. Where there is righteousness there is mercy. Proverbs 12:10 says, “…but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” In other words, they have no mercy and are therefore considered wicked. It is so vital for His disciples to show mercy, for if they didn’t, they would be better off not proclaiming His name. If they preached without mercy, none would respond, because mercy is the center of the gospel. As representatives of Christ and as witnesses for Him we must show mercy, for then we receive it. How important it is! If God showed us the same amount of mercy as we show others, we would no doubt be in Hell. We appreciate the mercies of God. Why should we not show it?
As His disciples, these basic principles are ones we cannot miss as they are the core teachings of Christ. Will we neglect His very message? God forbid! How blessed it is to know we are following Him. Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are they that do His commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
vs. 8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
There are three main things we can focus on in this verse: purity, “in heart,” and seeing God. When it comes to purity, we must realize that, apart from Christ, there are none righteous. Only those who are pure through Him are truly pure. No effort of self can attain true purity. In addition, these are not just people who seem pure; they are pure in heart. These are they who live a lifestyle of godliness that matches their hearts desire; they are not hypocrites. Anyone who is truly pure is pure inwardly, and these people will see God. By no means does this suggest works for salvation, for we know our righteousness are as filthy rags, apart from Christ. The key here is that those who are pure through Christ’s perfection are the ones who will see God. So let us rejoice, not in our efforts, but in His perfection.
vs. 9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God
When Christ said, “blessed are the peacemakers,” His claims were substantiated by other Scriptures, one of which is Proverbs 12:20 “…but to the counselors of peace is joy.” When one is a peacemaker, they are called the children of God, which tells us that peace is directly related to righteousness. It is a sign of a true believer. The power of peace is exemplified in this phrase: “Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise.” (Prov 17:28). Peace is a fruit of the spirit. However, our concern should not be world peace or even peace with sinners; our lives should be lives with the peace that Christ had. His character was not one of anger, vengeance, or violence, unless the situation demanded it. And so we must not be people of wrath. So many passages in Scripture condemn unfit anger and rage. Our attitude must be one of peace – not only inward, but outward – if we are to be known as a child of God. And how important is our identity in Christ!
vs.10 – Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The question in our minds should be: why did the Lord warn us of persecution if He didn’t expect us to be righteous? It is clear that persecution should encourage us, because it shows that we stand for the King without compromise. Second Timothy 3:12 guarantees us that the godly will suffer persecution in one way or another; but regardless of the pain, we must stand for Him, never compromising righteousness. Through our righteousness (found in Christ alone), we inherit Heaven! Why would we want to compromise that which is our very life because of mere persecution? Do we compromise? Or do we continue in humble submission for Him? (Notice that humility and persecution for righteousness’ sake have the same blessing: the Kingdom of Heaven.) We must never compromise our righteousness, or else we compromise Christ!
vs. 12 – Rejoice! Be exceeding glad – great is our reward!
Christ particularly focused on persecution in the last part of this portion, because He knew what service to Him involved. It is a fact: men will revile us, persecute us, and speak all kinds of evil against us even though they have no foundation for their speech. Yet in spite of this, Christ’s words overflow with blessing for His sheep. We are to rejoice and be exceeding glad, for when we stand in righteousness, we will receive abundant rewards from the very One we are persecuted for. Is there any greater incentive? Those before us were persecuted and even killed, yet they died happy and in joy. Why? Because they were content to suffer in the knowledge that they served the Saviour to the end. How awesome it actually is to expect persecution for His sake! To us who love Him, He is precious. Should living for Him not also be precious? Again, let us hunger and thirst after righteousness regardless of what mere man is able to do. How much more sad it would be to stand before Him knowing that we compromised and fell rather than merely suffering for Him!
Truly so much more truth can be gained from these verses, but with what we have looked at we can be sure of this: serving Him is a great privilege. It should bring joy to our hearts when we realize that we serve the Lord. Let us consider how we can serve Him better, not for the blessings, but for Him.