As I have stated in previous posts, I am attempting to dive deep into the first book of the New Testament of the Bible called Matthew. In this deep dive, I am utilizing the Inductive Study Method and various resources in addition to the Bible. The original reason for this deep dive was to get to the Sermon on the Mount and dissect it as a surgeon would in open heart surgery, and put it back together to better my relationship with God and others. Each post is about as long as a cup of coffee for me.
The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ longest recorded sermon. Many say that this portion of Matthew is a conglomeration of many of Christ’s teachings written in a way so to remember them more easily for it is put together sets. Jesus began His sermon with words that seem to contradict each other. But God’s way of living usually contradicts the world’s. If you want to live for God, you must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. You must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, and to help when others abuse. By giving up your own rights in order to serve others, you will one day receive everything God has in store for you.
In the third verse of this chapter, the characteristic to embody is “humility”. In Isaiah 57:15, it says, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” This is an Old Testament (OT) Scripture is prophetic in nature in that it looks forward to God dwelling with the “poor in spirit” (humble) in form of His Son, Jesus. We are humbled when we realize that we are sinners in need of a Savior. When we accept the truth of God’s grace and mercy that he extends to us, not because of who we are, but because of Who He is, we are humble. And the opposition to humility in the world is pride and personal independence. This type of pride is a turning of our dependence away from God and onto ourselves for our continued existence. In choosing to humble ourselves and accept Christ’s direction and salvation, God rewards us with entrance into the Kingdom of heaven. We can develop our humility by submitting to God and resisting the devil. As we humble ourselves in the “sight of the Lord”, He will lift us up as noted in James 4:7-10.
In the fourth verse of this chapter, we are directed on “mourning”. As we learned last week, this mourning is a lamenting and wailing that is passionate. The Scripture to look back in the OT is Isaiah 61:1-2. This foretells another thing that Jesus is coming (came) to do: preach good tidings to the meek, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, open the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, the day of vengeance of our God, and to comfort all that mourn, and the list goes on. The worldly value that is opposition to mourning is the pursuit of happiness at any cost. That searching for things to “fill the void” or bring us temporary happiness while running from God who is the source of all that is good. Because we are born sinners, our natural inclination is to please ourselves. Coming to God in repentance, mourning having disobeyed Him and His loving guidance to lasting joy, He comforts us and cleanses us of unrighteousness. He comforts us in all tribulation as noted in 2 Corinthians 1:4. We can develop this attitude of mourning by following the teaching in James 4:7-10 (as noted above) and by adopting the posture that David took in Psalm 51 when he was repentant of a terrible act he committed asking for forgiveness and cleansing.
The attitude of meekness and lowliness noted in verse 5 we noted last week is NOT weakness. There a great strength in self-control. Meekness is an extension of humility. Where others seek power over our lives, we are to seek to submit to God’s will and sovereignty. We can see in Psalm 37:5-11 how to properly put into practice Godly meekness. We are to commit our ways unto God – trusting in Jesus – and He promises to direct our path. We may see others prosper temporarily by unrighteous means and evil devices, but these practices will come to light in His judgment. Those that are loyal and obedient to Him will prosper in peace resting in Him. Those that are meek and lowly in heart receive the earth and find rest in our souls. In Matthew 11:27-30, we are told to come to Jesus. His yoke is easy and burden light.
When we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we are seeking justice and goodness. Isaiah 11:4-5 and 42:1-4 gives us a preview of what Jesus came to do concerning righteousness and judgment, which is justice and goodness. In opposition to justice is the pursuit of personal needs over the whole. When we seek our own sinful desires rather than trusting in God and His perfection, we will be let down. We will never truly obtain complete satisfaction until we submit to God and rest in Him. And we will fall under judgment and wrath as noted in Matthew 16:5-11. And all of the things that we pursue in our own strength and knowledge pales in comparison to the perfection found in Jesus Christ. We cannot perfect ourselves, only God can work in and through us as we are grounded in faith in Christ and what He has done, not what we have done. In Philippians 3:7-11, we see an example in Paul. He gave up everything – family, friendship, and political freedom – in order to know Christ and His resurrection power. We, too, have access to this knowledge and this power, but we may have to make sacrifices to enjoy it fully. What are you willing to give up in order to know Christ? A few minutes each day for prayer and Bible study? Your friend’s approval? Some of your plans or pleasures? Whatever it is, knowing Christ is more than worth the sacrifice.
Being merciful is embodied by kindness and mercy, and in being merciful, we will be shown mercy. Showing others compassion includes walking with them and listening to them. As we do so, we will find ourselves on the receiving end of merciful compassion as well in our time of need. Psalm 41:1 says, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” What goes against this is strength without feeling – bullying. As we look forward at Ephesians 5:1-2, we are told to be followers of God as children and walk in love as Christ loved us and has given Himself for us.
Being pure in heart, we saw last week is following God’s instruction and being cleansed of any spot or blemish by being forgiven of our sins through Christ Jesus. That purity leads us to deal truthfully with God, others, and our own self. In contrast, the world in opposition to God is accepting of deception. Looking back at Psalm 23, David is speaking to God in a prophetic prayer that includes Jesus’ presence guiding us through life in righteousness in His leadership shepherding role and we in our obedient following role. We end up safely on the other side of the valley of death when we follow Him, and we see God. We look to Him to create in us a clean spirit, renewing a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10). In 1 John 3, we see that the Christian life is a process of becoming more and more Christlike. This process will not be complete until we see Him face to face, but knowing that is is our ultimate goal should motivate us to purify ourselves. To purify means to keep morally straight, free from the corruption of sin. God does purify us also, but there is action we must take to remain morally fit.
Being a peacemaker is working for peace, not simply a title or characteristic you automatically have. We instinctively seek to peace in our own bubble without regard for the chaos going on around us. However, being a peacemaker involves seeking peace for others “far off, and to him that is near” (Isaiah 57:19). As peacemakers, we will be called the children of God. We can follow the guidance in Romans 12:9-21 to seek after this attribute and work for peace.
Those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are called to be faithful. We are to be committed even in tribulation. The world would have you be weak in your commitments and responsibilities, but we are to be steadfast and constant in God’s will. Then we will inherit the kingdom of heaven. In 2 Timothy 3:12, we are told that all who follow Christ will be persecuted. So, when we are persecuted, we can be reminded of the promise of being faithful in Christ leads us to the kingdom of heaven. God will reward the faithful by letting them enter His eternal Kingdom, where there is no more persecution. We should rejoice when we are persecuted. Persecution can be good because it takes our eyes off earthly rewards, it strips away superficial belief, it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and our attitude through it serves as an example to others who follow. We can be comforted to know that God’s greatest prophets were persecuted (Elijah, Jeremiah, and Daniel). Our persecution means we have shown ourselves faithful.
Jesus began His sermon by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He called those who lived out those traits blessed because God has something special in store for them. Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society’s typical way of life. In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each trait is found in Jesus himself. If our goal is to become like Him, the beatitudes will challenge the way we live each day.
This one is a lot, but I hope you take each part each day and meditate on it, research for yourself, and simply be immersed in the Bible pursuing a relationship with God on your own. I love Him and am more than grateful for all that He has done for us.
Gotta go fill up my cup…