Jesus used the beatitudes to explain to His followers the true path to happiness. However this teaching has not always been accepted well because it’s the great contrast to the worldly notion of blessedness and happiness. Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher once called them a “malignant disease.” Jesus’ point is we need to change our focus from the world’s perspective of happiness to God’s perspective of it, in order to find any happiness at all in this life and the beatitudes are the way to do it. In my previous sermon we looked at the first four of these. Let’s consider the rest today.
1. Identify with People in Need
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
A. Means being compassionate and forgiving towards those who don’t deserve it like God did, (Romans 5:8) B. Jesus taught mercifulness is not an emotion of the heart, but a lifestyle with a hefty price, (Matthew 5:38-40) C. We don’t have God’s permission to judge others, without inviting God’s judgment upon ourselves because we are sinners saved by his mercy, (Matthew 18:21-35)
Implications: God will bless us with his mercy if we obey his will. His will is that we forgive and show compassion to people who offend us.
2. Maintain a Pure Heart
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
A. Jesus is referring to those not only profess to believe in God, but worship him in sincerity and truth, (John 1:47) B. One doesn’t have to die to see God when if he has an intimate relationship with God. Jesus is saying purity is foundational to that intimacy, (James 4:8) C. Such purity does not arise from perfection of our will, but from reception of God’s grace, (Isaiah 6:7)
Implications: Mere religion and outward rituals cannot connect us to God because he looks at the heart.
3. Promote Peace and Reconciliation
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
A. Jesus laid down His life to make peace between God and sinners. We become peacemakers when we carry that message to others, (Isaiah 52:7) B. The apostle Paul says God has given to us the great ministry of reconciliation, (2 Corinthians 5:18) C. Paul also says we are Christ’s ambassadors God is making his appeal to the mankind through us, (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Implications: As God’s children we preach the gospel because it’s the character of our heavenly Father, the great peacemaker.
4. Take Persecution Positively
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
A. Jesus is saying the unrighteous will chase us and hunt us down, continuously and ruthlessly because of our righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:12) B. He called us to promote peace in a world that cherishes hatred and violence. No wonder the world will persecute us, (John 15:19) C. We can rejoice even when we are in great pain because Christ will be with us at all times, (Matthew 28:20)
Implications: persecution is inevitable. But this beatitude says our present sufferings are not worth comparing the glory that will be revealed in us.
Burton Hills said, “Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.” The Bible says the beatitudes are that way of life.
Image: Simone Baldini
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