“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
What Are the Beatitudes?
The Beatitudes are a series of blessings given by Jesus during His “Sermon on the Mount” found in the Gospel of Matthew. In contrast to the “Thou Shalt Not” phrases given to Moses in the 10 Commandments, Jesus presents the Beatitudes in a positive sense, listing values and virtues in life that will lead to blessings and salvation. These Scriptures encourage us and give us hope in the midst of our trials and tribulations here on earth as we face each day knowing that we are blessed by God. The Beatitudes constitute one of the main themes in Matthew’s Gospel, that the long-awaited kingdom spoke of in the Old Testament is not of this world, but in the kingdom of heaven.
Although the book of Matthew records this event taking place on a hill, versus Luke’s description of it being on a level place, this alleged discrepancy can be easily explained by examining the many level areas along the Galilean hillsides. The suggested location for the Sermon on the Mount is Mt. Eremos. This spacious hillside provides ample room for crowds of 100,000 or more and overlooks the 4 mile long “Plain of Gennesaret.” According to the New Testament, Jesus was in this area numerous times including the time when He healed the great multitudes in Matthew 15:29-39.
The word beatitude comes from the Latin word beatitudo, meaning “blessedness.” The word “Blessed” means “happy,” thus, each verse begins with “happy are.” I also find it very interesting that Jesus presents all of the Beatitudes in the future tense except for the first and last one. “For they shall” implies something in the future still to come, while, “For theirs is” speaks of the present tense. The Beatitudes illustrate how the ways of God do not agree with the ways of the world. The world tells us we find happiness when we have the latest and greatest, shiniest, most advanced fill-in-the-blank new thing on the market, but Jesus says we find it when we demonstrate the characteristics of our Christian faith. The Beatitudes give us a representation of a true disciple of God.
Each beatitude is a proverb-like statement packed full of meaning and worthy of further study and life application. So let’s prepare our minds and hearts as we individually take An In-depth look At “The Beatitudes.”
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
The phrase “poor in spirit” is actually a word for a beggar on the streets. Someone who understands their nothingness before God. A spiritual condition of poverty. An understanding of our need for Him because we can’t navigate through life on our own. What Jesus is saying is that the way into the kingdom of God is understanding that without Him you cannot serve God, love your neighbor, love your enemy, keep your word, or any of the other things that come in the Sermon on the Mount. “Poor in spirit” is a virtue that conflicts with the pride of the Pharisee, which caused him to thank God that he was not like the other men (Luke 18:9-14). We need to realize our desperate need for God. There must be emptiness before there can be fullness.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted
What does it mean by “Blessed are those who mourn?” Does it mean that those who are grieving or sad because of some great loss, or those who are experiencing pain will find comfort in the Lord? It’s true that Christians who are experiencing these things can find comfort in the Lord. Psalm 34:18 tells us “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” and Psalm 147:3 tells us “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” But that’s not what this verse is talking about. This verse speaks of those who deeply mourn over their own sins and the sins of the world. When we mourn sin, we seek a life without regret. We seek repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ. The comforting occurs when we receive His Grace and He removes our burden of sin.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
In our culture today, “meekness” is often taken as “weakness.” However, in the time period of Jesus, meek was a strong word. In this passage, the Greek word for meek is praus (“Prah-ooce” – Strong’s 4239), which also translates out as “humble” or “gentle.” The meekness that Jesus is talking about can be described as “strength under control,” – the ability to demonstrate power without undue harshness. Jesus was a perfect example as He was “meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29). As Jesus hung on the cross, He had all the power of heaven at His disposal, yet chose not to use it. “The meek” are those who submit to God’s authority as Lord of their life. When Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth, He was quoting from Psalm 37:11 which says; “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” It also ties into Revelation 21:7 which says “he who overcomes shall inherit all things.”
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled
The word righteousness first, simply means “being right with God” (A relationship), and second, it also means “living right as God intends” (A lifestyle). So righteousness is a position and a practice. It indicates the fulfillment of God’s will in your heart and soul. Psalm 23:3 tells us that “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” and 1 John 2:29 tells us that “everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” The terms “hunger and thirst” speak of a deep need and a driving passion. So it’s not just a matter of observing the law (Matthew 5:20), but rather a continuous desire for moral perfection and justice. A transition and conversion to holiness that takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit. What Jesus is saying is that if we passionately long for Him, He will satisfy our souls (aka.. be filled).
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy
Mercy is the loving disposition we display towards those who suffer. For all of 2000 years, our faith has hinged on this idea that God did not give us what we deserve, He gave us mercy. If there is any one characteristic that describes a Christian, merciful should be the one. Luke 6:36 says, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” James also addresses this quite directly in his letter when he writes; “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Jesus brings this point up again in Matthew 6:14-15 when He states, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Centuries earlier the prophet Micah gave this command to the people long before Jesus came; “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
To be pure in heart means to be free of all selfish intentions and desires. It literally means to have the heart of God. We can only see and experience God’s presence in our life if we are pure in heart. King David prayed; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). God says; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). So you see? The ability to obey does not even come from us, it comes from God. As the ultimate example, Jesus showed us what it means to be pure in heart, denying Himself via the sacrificial suffering He endured on the cross for the redemption and salvation of mankind.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called
sons of God
Jesus Christ, Himself is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), and only through Him can we live peacefully with God. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Whether it’s between nations, neighbors, or even within our own minds, peace is one of the strongest human desires. “Peace” is listed as one of the top three characteristics of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. Without love, joy, and peace, the rest of the fruits are not possible. What Jesus is saying is, by imitating God’s love for man, peacemakers become children of God. He explains how to do this a few verses later in Matthew 5:44-45 when He states “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Not only do peacemakers live peaceful lives themselves, but they also make a conscious effort to bring friendship and peace to others and cultivate peace between God and man.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
As Christians, persecution is often beyond our control, but if we endure until the end, God receives the glory, and we receive His reward of eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. The Bible tells us that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). The apostle Paul stated that “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21-22). Many times Jesus Himself stated that those who follow Him will be persecuted. In John 15:20 Jesus said “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” And, in John 16:33 He said “In Me, you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” So you see, we may be cast down, but we are not conquered.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 tells us:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
If we as Christians endure persecution by faith, instead of hiding our faith to avoid being persecuted, we are genuine followers of Christ.
While Jesus was sitting there before the multitudes giving His Sermon on the Mount, His audience believed in self-righteousness because of who they were. Having known what they’ve learned from their tradition, Jesus’s message touched every nerve in their body – as underneath their masquerading lifestyle they all realized they were poor in spirit. Jesus didn’t say the Pharisees, the Jews, good people, or even the descendants of Abraham. He said, broken people. People who realize their desperate need for God. The meek, the mournful, the poor in spirit, the merciful, the persecuted, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus was saying that these are the people who will enter into the kingdom of heaven. He was saying that they needed a righteousness much greater than their own, which is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 5:20, that “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:16 says “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works (the Beatitudes) and glorify your Father in heaven.”
When you step out into the world today, ask yourself, “How can I put the Beatitudes in action in my life today? How can I be salt and light to those around me?”