Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Matthew 5a

January 16th, 2011 by Vic

“Jesus Describes the Blessed”

Matthew 5:1-10

January 16, 2011

The word ‘blessed’ can be translated ‘happiness’ but what is happiness?  If happiness is getting all the things you want, then people with everything are happy.  If happiness is living your dreams, then all successful people are happy.

Jesus had been teaching in the 200 villages of Galilee.  He had seen sickness, celebrations, pain, love, bigotry, oppression, and death.  He may have taught this sermon often when a crowd gathers.

Jesus teaches about real happiness.  Happiness is an attitude of joy that results from a good heart and righteous living.  Happiness is an outcome of holy living not a goal to be reached nor just food on the table.

Satan had suggested some optional goals in life to give Jesus pleasure and make people serve Him.  Jesus said He would do it God’s way.  Now we see God’s way.  Large crowds were following Jesus.  He had been teaching, preaching and healing.  God’s plan to change the world is to change the hearts of people not their food, entertainment or government.  The Beatitudes may be a sermon that Jesus taught many times.  It describes the people in God’s kingdom.

Five times in Matthew 5 Jesus says, “You have heard…but I say unto you.”  The world’s ways are not the same as God’s ways.  The world’s teaching is not the same as God’s teaching.

The Beatitudes are not a new set of laws to live, but attitudes that Jesus wants to plant within us.

5:1 “When He saw the crowds…”  The motivation for teaching these Beatitudes is the crowd.  Jesus saw a need in the hearts of people.  These are the crowds satan had referred to.  Jesus looks and sees our need and is speaking to us today.

“He went up in the hills.”  By going up the mountain, going to a Bible study Jesus separated the crowd.  The pleasure seekers and apathetic would stay at the beach.  Many attend when it is convenient or when they can get something out of it.  The disciples followed.  Not just the 12 disciples.  They have not been mentioned yet.  All who were ready to listen followed up the mountain.

The phrase “He sat down” meant that He had something important to say.  Maybe it’s like your mother setting you down.  You better listen.  The rabbis and teachers sat to teach.  We sit to listen.

The phrase “opening His mouth” has a double meaning in the Greek.  First it is the proper way for an orator to be introduced.  It means we are about to hear an important speech.  Secondly it is a proper way to express your heart concerns to a friend.  It means He opened His heart and shared His most precious thoughts.  What He is about to say will reveal the concerns of His heart.

This statement suggests that Jesus usually taught them without opening His mouth.  But here He is teaching with words.  The verb ‘taught’ is in the imperfect tense, which suggests repeated and habitual action.  Jesus was always teaching, but here He opened His mouth.

He begins with ‘Blessed’ or happy.  It is in the present tense and means now, not some future blessing.  The word in the Greek first was limited to describing the happy world of the gods who were above the sufferings and labors of man.  They were blessed.  During NT times the word was used to describe people who had received the gift of wisdom from the gods.  Jesus now uses it for the joy of being part of His kingdom.

Jesus offers heavenly happiness/blessedness to a common crowd of people.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Kingdom citizens will look and act like this.

Last week we heard about the temptations of Jesus.  He was tempted to instant happiness.  He rejected the shortcut offered by satan to happiness from instant happy meals, instant popularity, or instant wealth.  Jesus rejected instant happiness and now shares the facts of real happiness.

Satan tells us if we do this or buy this, or say this, or think positive, we can be happy right now.

5:3 Jesus says, “Happy are the poor.”  Happiness is a heart thing.  The word Jesus uses for poor is the word used for beggar.  It means excruciating poverty, one who has no power or prestige.  He is totally dependant on God.  He sees himself as a beggar and is no longer too proud to ask.  The happy are those who admit their poverty and ask God for help.

Remember the publican and the Pharisee praying.  “Lord I’m glad I’m not like …”  “Lord have mercy on me a sinner…”  Which one received from God?  (Luke 18:9-14)  The one who knew he was poor.

Pride hinders happiness.  The wise men would have missed out on the greatest event in history if they had been too proud to travel to Jerusalem, too proud to visit a wicked king, too proud to go to a stable, too proud to listen to an angel.  They could have sent servants to check everything out first.  Pride would have robbed them of the greatest Gift in history.

Jesus says, “Happy is the spiritual beggar who trusts God completely, for he is a kingdom citizen.”  His happiness is not dependent on the external chances and changes of this visible world.

5:4 What is mourning?  It is a strong word.  It is the passionate sorrow of a broken heart, an ache in the emotions, and anguish in the mind.  It means compassion and caring for other’s hurts.  It is the strongest word the Greeks had for sorrow.

What causes mourning?  What causes deep sorrow for kingdom citizens?  Why would a Christian be crying?  Jesus cried when a friend died and the people seemed to have no hope.  Jesus cried when he saw the city and what sin was doing in the lives of men.  As God’s child, my heart is broken when a friend dies.  My heart aches with the family.  I also cry when I sin.

Sin causes mourning.  Congratulations to you who repent of your sin.  The Comforter is yours.

The Messiah comes to give us the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise rather than a spirit of despair (Is 61:3).

5:5 Congratulations to the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Like the first two, meekness also is an inner attitude, rather than an outward behavior.

Aristotle defines meek as the medium between the extremes of anger and apathy.  It is more than a gentle manner; it is the gentleness of strength.  It is an inner poise of a loving gentle giant, a kind king, a humble champion, a quiet saint.

Jesus describes himself as meek and lowly in Matthew 11:29.  He knew he had the power and authority to do anything, but he was committed to do the Father’s will in the Father’s time.

Because of God’s love we have a strength others will not understand.  When you know you are loved, really loved, when you know you can fail and still be loved, when you know you can ask questions, criticize, argue, and still be loved, when you know you are totally accepted for who you are, then you have an inner strength.  You enjoy being just what God wants you to be.

The meek person is aware of who he is and can accept others for who they are.  He is eager to listen and learn from others.  The meek allows God to work.

5:6 Congratulations to those desiring righteousness.  There is a famine in the land for the Word of God (Amos 8:11-14).  There is a famine for righteousness.

Man is born with a hunger for righteousness, but satan seduces us with husks of immediate pleasures.  Trying to satisfy the longing in your heart without God’s Word is like filling your stomach with junk food.  It takes away the desire for real food.  Satan offers a lot of junk food.

In order to find satisfaction we need to be selective of what we feed our minds and emotions.  Eat healthy.  Get hungry and thirsty for God.  If sin grieves us, let’s hunger and thirst to be righteous.  Let’s cultivate our desire to point all men to God.

Has something diminished your appetite for God?  Do you have a spiritual ulcer?  Are you receiving intravenous feeding from another source?  Are you distracted and too busy to eat?  Why have you lost your spiritual appetite?  Change your routines.  Taste and see that the Lord is Good.  Share the Bread of Life and Living Water.

5:7 Be merciful!  Show mercy.  This is more than just an attitude.  It is a desire and decision to respond in mercy.  Then if I show mercy I receive mercy from God.

This cause and effect principle runs through all the New Testament.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:12-14 we have to forgive others before God can forgive us.  James 2:13 says, if you show no mercy you will receive no mercy.  If you by your very nature are merciful, you will receive mercy from God not the other person.

What does it mean to be merciful?  Mercy means getting inside the other person’s skin until you see with their eyes, hear with their ears, think what they think, and feel what they feel.  It is sensing the hidden pain of a friend that may have hurt you.  Happy are those with hearts of mercy.

“Blessed are the merciful.”  If you have a heart of mercy you will receive mercy from God.  The world says, “Stand up for your rights.  He did you wrong.  He must be punished.  I deserve an apology.”  The man of this world does not try to be merciful.  This man is more concerned with his feelings than the feelings of others.  This man feels he must judge the other person before he shows mercy.

Mercy is having compassion on sinners.  Meekness reminds us that we are sinners too.  In other people we see the reflection of ourselves.

When we sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, we are praising God because He put our pain in His heart.  He got inside of the human skin.  He expressed His abundant mercy…in JESUS.  The supreme example of mercy is the coming of God in Jesus Christ.  God knows what life is like because He came right inside life.  He gave up His right to punish us.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  What you see is what you are.  What you are is what you see.  What you are in your heart determines what your eyes see.

The Greek word for pure is katharos.  We use it in the medical field.  It means clean, unmixed, unadulterated, or unalloyed.  Blessed is the man whose motives are unmixed, not double minded.  Blessed is the man who has no cataracts on his heart.  The pure in heart are single-minded and utterly sincere.

Psalm 24:3-4 and Psalm 51:10

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.  How do they see God?  With spiritual eyes.  We have heart eyes as well as head eyes.  We say, “Now I see what you mean.”  or “I never saw it that way before.”  The cataracts of our heart can be forgiven and removed so we can see God clearly.

We see only what we are fit to see.  Without a pure heart we are not fit to see God.  When I see a robber, I see my stuff and someone running off with it.  When a sketch artist sees a person, he sees the unique features of the person.  When I look at the sky at night I see airplane lights, stars, and satellites.  When an astronomer looks at the sky he sees relationships.  When I look at paintings in a museum I see beauty, colors, balance, and size.  When my son sees paintings, he sees history and a bigger picture.  The pure in heart are fit to see God in everything.  (Hymn: “Cleanse Me”)

5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.  This phrase ‘children of God’ is a Jewish way of saying godly or like God.  Peacemakers will be called godly.  Jesus was a peacemaker.  He brought reconciliation between God and man and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  The word peace has the element of harmony.  It is much more than the absence of war.

Jesus is talking about kingdom citizens.  He is not saying that men will call us godly just because we are peacemakers, but God will.  Peacemakers are like the Prince of Peace.  Jesus said He would leave His peace with His disciples.  His message explained peace.  His death purchased peace for all who believe.  His resurrected presence enables peace.

It is easier to do nothing than to be a peacemaker.  The Devil and his children bring discord and try to divide, but Jesus came to reconcile and make peace.  When we have peace with God we are fit to be peacemakers.

Ogilvie calls peacemakers, the first steppers in our world.  They are willing to take the first step in asking forgiveness.  They are willing to take the first step in restoring broken relationships.  Because God has called them His children, they can seek forgiveness from those they have harmed or hurt.  Happiness awaits making peace.  The first step may be a letter, a phone call, a visit.

When God reminds us of something we have said or done that has brought discord, we need to do something about it.  Happy are the peacemakers.  They are just like their dad.  God claims you as His kids.

5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is (present tense) the kingdom of heaven.  This is another characteristic of kingdom citizens.  When people call you everything but godly or a child of God, you can still be blessed.  It is no accident that Jesus continues from peacemaking to persecution.  The peacemaker is not always welcome.  Opposition is normal.  Sinful hearts have cataracts that distort their view of real happiness.

Let’s do a quick review:

Jesus said in verse 3, “Happy are the poor spiritual beggars” they choose to ask God for help.  In verse 4, “Happy are those who repent of sin because they are forgiven.”  In verse 5, “Happy are the gentle giants” they choose to trust God.  In verse 6, “Happy are those who desire God’s ways.”  In verse 7, “Happy are those who share the pain of others.”  In verse 8, “Happy are those who put God first in everything.”  In verse 9, “Happy are those who initiate peace.”  In verse 10, “Happy are the persecuted, because they have not compromised their beliefs, they are not self-condemned, they do not feel inferior, they know they are kingdom citizens.”

The first and the eighth beatitude have the promise of receiving the kingdom.

Jesus changed the world one teaching at a time in spite of being a member of a small tribe, a citizen of an occupied country, a common carpenter’s son.  In his time taxes were oppressive, religion was restrictive, negative and joyless.  Jesus never campaigned for popularity or political office, never organized a task force, never led a peace march, never started a food bank, and never attended the university.  He was misunderstood and killed unjustly.  He invites us to follow in His steps and be kingdom citizens.

He did not come to make life easy, but to make men great.  You are who you are in God’s eyes. No one else’s opinion matters.

If you choose to walk with God you too can make a difference.  You can be happy and blessed in an unhappy world that has bought into satan’s lies.  Take time to know God’s will and way.  Confess your sins.  Get and eye wash.  See God with a pure heart.

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