Today we are going to begin an 8-week journey of spiritually engaging what it means to understand the concept of being blessed in the Lord. If someone sneezes, one will usually hear someone say bless you. If someone is given a great family, or a great job, or great health, within the church we call these people blessed. Searching after the blessings of God is a spiritual truth that many of us search after. Yet as we will see here in the next few weeks, receiving the blessings of God is not realized by a casual Christian but is only brought to life in one who has embraced the call of Christ in their lives.
In this live for most of history, mankind has sought to define his existence by providing some sort of relevance to his existence. Whether you look at the many conquerors in history who have strived to place in mark in history, or scientists, artists and musicians who have bled and died in an effort to define significance. Even considering the more recent history of last 50 years, we can look at various illustrations of those who have attempted to define significance. Look for a moment at the makings of mankind, we search to define ourselves by the significance of our lives, from the money that we make, to the legacies that remain, to the movements that we create. All of these statements are an effort by mankind to create a mark, a measure by which one’s life can matter, all the while losing the true significance for which we are created. As we begin todays passage of scripture, we need to consider what is the significance of our lives, and how do we define our significance by our actions. Whether you are in the world or in the church, there is not comment that is more hurtful to a Christian than the words that “we are no different from anybody else”. Our Lord calls us to a life of significance, a blessed life, a life defined not by the money that we make, not by the movements we create, the legacies we leave behind in family, but rather by the mark of our Savior. This is a life called unto holiness, a blessed life. A mark defined by separation, misunderstood by those around us but fulfilled not by the things of this world, not by our purpose, but by the purpose of our eternal creator. If we consider the entire breadth of scripture, one will find a common thread. That we are call to a life as a holy people, to be set apart from the world, to belong to our Lord, different in purpose, different in substance, set apart unto our Lord. One not defined by religion, one note defined by culture, one not defined by history, one defined by eternity; a blessed life. So, this morning, lets dig into what our Lord defines as a blessed life as we turn to Matthew 5.
Scripture – Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Engaging the Word
This morning as our Lord looks around He sees a ton of people hanging on every word and action that He is speaking to them about. One of the first things we notice in this passage is that our Lord steps away from the crowd and goes up the mountain to teach not the crowds of that day, by his disciples. It is evident that He wanted to specifically reach into the lives of his disciples and show them specifically what brings about a blessed life in the life of a child of God. So too it is with us today, we are called up that same mountain so that our Lord can sit down with you and me to teach each of us what it means to experience a blessed life as a Christian.
As we read this, this morning; notice a major comparison between this message and the law that our Lord gave on the Mount of Sinai. As with the Law given to the people of Israel, the message that our Lord is given as instruction for what the Lord calls us to so that we may be blessed in His Kingdom. In this passage of scripture our Lord takes the people to a mountain in Galilee and He proceeds up the mountain in order to speak to the people. At the mount of Sinai, God comes down from the mountain to speak to the people of Israel, whereas now the son of Man goes up the mountain to speak to the people of Israel. At the mount of Sinai our God speaks with thunder and lightning, now our Lord speaks to us in a still small voice. At Sinai the people are told to stay away from the mountain so as to not die from the Holiness of our God, now our Lord beacons the people near so that they may understand what it means to live within the holiness of our Lord.
Our Lord sits down with us, just as He sat down with this disciples of that day, and he opens his mouth to provide a teaching that will change the lives of these men forever. Just as the commandments had changed the life of the Israelites forever, so too the words that our Lord spoke that day changed the lives of mankind (specifically the disciples), for the rest of eternity. So the question is, are we listening?
Poor in Spirit
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Woe! That isn’t what they were expecting. Here the people are expecting some amazing truths based on the Old Testament, but instead the Lord challenges the people to see a new perspective in their lives. You see that day, as our Lord looked upon his disciples, he did not see a sea of wealthy powerful men and women, but rather he saw a handful of poor fishermen, tax collectors, individuals defined by the daily the blessings of their creator. It is in this that our Lord reaches into this significance and illustrates to them that it is not in the provisions of mankind that we find a blessed life, but rather in the provision of our creator. It is realizing our emptiness as disciples that we can fully grasp a blessed life.
This morning, what does it mean to be poor in spirit? The Psalmist illustrated this way in Psalms 34:6 “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” This is a truth that each of us have to embrace as believers to fully understand and live a blessed life as a child of God. It is through not the lip service of embracing poverty as a believer, but through the actions of the heart and life that we can fully embrace his purpose, his blessings in this life. For most people it is a natural state to want more in life, whether it is land, money, cars, experience, power or anything else in this world. Yet here we are being called to experience poverty. So how can one who desires more in life, ever get to state of desiring less. It is only through embracing a change in spiritual perspective. It is only through seeing the bankrupt state of our lives, and the destruction that we bring that we can fully embrace that we emptiness and fully embracing the blessing of his presence. Our Lord is challenging us today to see what true blessedness is in life. It is not in the substance of selves or this world, rather it is about being filled with Jesus Christ. You see when the Lord calls us to be poor in spirit, He is calling us to empty ourselves of self, so that we might be filled with the holiness our Lord calls us to. This is a life separate from the world, a life significant not this stuff that we have or things that we do but in the life that we lead in Christ. This morning our Lord says to you and me, if you desire to see blessedness in your life, you need to be poor in spirit, you need to give up everything to Jesus and let Him take control in your life. As Charles Spurgeon put it “the way to rise in the kingdom is to sink in ourselves”.
These elements of a blessed life, are not up for debate. They are not up for intellectual discussion. They are not here to picked from, but are here provided in their entirety so that we might understand their significance in their complete fulfillment in our lives. We cannot pick up some of these characteristics as believers but not others, we are called to embrace all so that a blessed life might be revealed in each of us.
Next the Lord says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. So what does it mean to mourn? In the days of old, the Jews were renowned for their ability to mourn in suffering. In Jeremiah 6:26 it says, “O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; Mourn as for an only son, a lamentation most bitter. For suddenly the destroyer will come upon us.” The people of Israel were no strangers to concept of mourning in their lives. However, that day when the Lord said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”, A mournful spirit is not defined by the loss of this world, personal or possession. A mournful spirit is experienced in fully seeing our sinful state and the hope of our Savior. It is easy for us as people to look at ourselves and say blessed are the merry, but to say blessed are the mournful, this seems often foreign to us. The reason at our Lord calls being mournful a blessing, is because in being mournful for the sinfulness of our souls, we open ourselves to His grace and his love in us. The sad truth is that there are such things as Christian tears, yet too few of us ever weep them. Our Lord calls us to be mournful for the sinfulness of our hearts so that we might realize the work of the Lord in lives. It is through this that we are blessed through His molding presence in our lives. A staunch reality in our lives is that often times it takes us getting to that moment when we have nothing else to turn to that we realize that we need the presence of the Lord in our lives. It takes loosing the life of the loved one, losing all our finances, losing a job, losing a marriage for us to realize that we cannot do this life on our own. So when we enter into this mournful state in our lives, it is in this moment that we realize what the Lord is trying to say that we should enter into every day. No the Lord is not expecting us to walk through life with a spirit of defeat in our life. He has given us victory over sin through His power in our lives, and so we should walk through faith in Him that we can victoriously walk through this life. However, in this verse our Lord is calling us on a continual basis to search for anything that might separate us from our father. As it says in Psalms, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139: 23-24, NIV) This morning our Lord is saying to you and me that if we desire to see a life that realizes a peace in those moments of mourning we need to see mourning in our lives on a daily basis, on a moment by moment basis, so that He might work in us a miracle that can only be explained by His presence in our lives.
An 18th century missionary to the American Indians named David Brainard, wrote in his journal a great truth that specifically speaks to this truth. “in my morning devotions, my soul was exceedingly melted, and bitterly mourned over my exceeding sinfulness and vileness. Tears like this are the holy water to which God is said to store in his bottle.”
We sing the song, “Great is thy faithfulness” we need to come to him in mourning searching for potter experience in our lives. If you desire to see comfort in your life in that struggle that you are facing this morning, our Lord wants to give you comfort. Come to Him in mourning and He will give you a life of blessedness that you could never imagine. The happiness of heaven consists in being perfectly and eternally comforted, and in the wiping away of all tears from their eyes. It is the joy of our Lord; a fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore; which will be doubly sweet to those who have been prepared for them by this Godly sorrow. Let Psalms 139 become a way of life and I promise you comfort will ooze from your pores, so much so that people around you will ask you how you do it. Just so that you can turn and say, “Its Jesus”.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. This morning our Lord says that those who come to Him in meekness will inherit the earth. Firstly what does it mean to be meek? In other translations this word is interpreted as gentle. Meek means to be quiet, gentle, courteous, considerate and in some cases submissive. The man or woman who is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do. Meekness as a believers requires that we submit to those who have authority over us, it requires that we consider ourselves less than those around us, and it requires that we embrace submission to our Lord and Savior. It is in embracing this truth as believer that as it says in Isaiah 65:17, “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” You see our Lord will be creating a new heaven and a new earth in the days to come and his promise this morning is that if we come to Him in submission, we will inherit the kingdom of heaven. The meekness in him is not just for things to come, but also for the moments we have in this world. I don’t know about you but I have seen many occasion in the world today, where individuals, friends, even neighbors will fly off the handle over the smallest of indiscretions. Today we have to ask ourselves, do we live a life of meekness. Do we consider the opinions of others? Do we consider others more important? Do we embrace submission to our Savior in its fullest? Here is a good indicator, how have we dealt with these tough situations in our lives? Have we flown off the handle, angry with the one who has hurt us? Our Lord desires for you to inherit the new earth He is going to create. Are you going to sell your inheritance to self or are you going to go to Him in submission searching for His will in your life? Is meekness a way of life for you today?
Through the first three beatitudes we notice that the natural man finds no happiness or blessedness in spiritual poverty, mourning or meekness. These are only a blessing for the spiritual man, those who are new creatures in Jesus.