Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Beatitudes

In Matthew chapters 5 through 7 we have the most extensive example of our Lord’s teaching in His ministry. The sermon was preached early in His efforts, shortly after His temptation in the wilderness. It was preached in Galilee, on a mountainside near the north shore of Lake Tiberias. While there are many important truths found in Matthew’s record of that sermon, we will limit our comments to its beginning, known as the Beatitudes.

The term “beatitude” is defined by Webster as a “state of utmost bliss.” In this case it refers to a set of eight blessings given by Jesus on this occasion, in chapter 5, verses 3-10:

  1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
  2. “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”
  3. “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”
  4. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.”
  5. “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.”
  6. “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”
  7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.”
  8. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Greek term translated “blessed” in each verse is makarios. Strong defines it: supremely blest; fortunate, well off: – blessed, happy. The term indicates a state of happiness that should be recognized as superior to what we normally associate with the term. This is clearly indicated by the nature of the promise associated with each beatitude.

The most arresting aspect of our Lord’s beatitudes is the fact that they are non-intuitive. Most men, if they were to describe the state of those who are “poor in spirit”, those who “mourn”, those who are “meek”, those who are “persecuted”, would not describe them as supremely happy. As the Lord stated in Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.”

While each of these blessings describe a low or modest state, they each give promise of a reward that will far exceed that present circumstance. We are given such promises elsewhere in scripture:

“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4).

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave’” (Matthew 20:25-27).

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26).

The lesson is a simple one. Living for the Lord will lead to difficult circumstances in life. It will bring heartache, poverty, sadness, sacrifice and persecution. It will require a child of God to live outside of self — focusing on the welfare of others and service to God — rather than his own satisfaction. But, such self-sacrifice is well worth the effort and cost. He can and will be happy as he suffers such deprivation, because of the promise beyond the horizon. Consider the rewards: “the kingdom of heaven”, “comfort”, “the earth”, “filled”, “mercy”, “they shall see God”, “they shall be called sons of God.”

May we have the same perspective as Paul, who wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).