Thursday, March 9, 2017

Understanding The Beatitudes

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 
(Matthew 5: 3)

Jesus simply meant that we must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant. In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own faults and our emptiness and poverty of spirit. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are then God cannot bless us. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” 
(James 4:6).

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 
(Matthew 5: 4)

This is not a reference to the morning for the loss of a loved one, it refers to the mourning that comes when one mourns over their own failures and disappointments and begins to acknowledge that they have sinned and have been living outside of God’s will. Mourning comes to those who recognize the sin of having lived an ego-centric shallow life, leading to a sense of loss and emptiness followed by a repentant heart and a desire for God’s forgiveness. 

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5: 5)

The meekness the Lord is referring to can be best described by picturing a team of horses drawing a carriage in a circle track race. The inside horses refrain from running as hard and fast as those on the outside, they are referred to as the meek horses. Being meek is continually exercising humility and restraint even under the most trying circumstances. Jesus gives us an example of meekness during the confrontation and his arrest at Gethsemane when he spoke to his apostles saying, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” Knowing that he had infinite power and could save himself from the beating, torment and death on a cross Jesus chose to submit to the will of the father. “Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand;” (Isaiah 53:10)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5: 6)

There comes a time in life when one begins to wonder, “Is this all there is?” In spite of everything that has been done and all the goals attained, it has not been fulfilling and something seems to be missing. The bible provides us with an answer to that gnawing question. So he came to a city of Samar′ia, called Sy′char, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samar′ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar′ia?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (John 4: 5 - 15)
(Verse 16 - 18) Jesus catches the woman in a lie and exposes her sinfulness when she says that she has no husband and he says, “No you’ve had five husbands and the one you are living with now is not your husband” 
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 
(John 4: 25 - 26)
(Verse 28 - 30) So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to him.
The woman experienced an epiphany having had a face-to-face meeting with the savior, it was such profound experience that she left her water jar behind and ran off to the city to tell everyone. When confronted by the inadequacy of a hedonistic and self-absorbed lifestyle she had a hunger and thirst for something more which could only be satisfied through a personal knowledge and relationship with God which came to her through Christ, and so it is with us.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5: 7)

Jesus left us with a good example of a man who shows mercy to a debtor.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18: 23 - 27)
The debtor had showed a repentant and contrite heart and was forgiven his debt by the King. Likewise when we come on our knees to the Lord with a repentant and contrite heart, we can be assured of forgiveness by the only one who can truly forgive all that we have done.
However with every blessing there is conversely a fearsome penalty for those who themselves have been forgiven of much and fail to offer reciprocal forgiveness to others. 
But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:28 - 35)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5: 8)

Who are the pure in heart? These are they that have repented of their sins of a former lifestyle and who have turned away from all that is not right. For them there is no more cheating, lying, no more evil thoughts, unbridled anger, foul mouth or pornography and so on, there’s is a renewed heart and mind.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4: 8)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” 
(Matthew 5: 9)

One might think this refers to those who intervene in disputes between people and settle fights, not so it is much deeper than that! There is a considerable gulf and a dispute between man and God that has been positionally settled by the death and resurrection of Christ, but that peace is only acquired on an individual basis when the gospel is heard, not just by one’s ears but is received by the heart of a man. The peacemakers that Jesus is referring to here are they that proclaim the gospel with the good news of Jesus Christ and are closing the gap between God and His creation, changing a world who doesn’t know or revere God. 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 10)

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
(Matthew 5: 11 - 12)

Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “He that would love  life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.” Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong. 
(1 Peter 3: 9 - 17)

“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.” (2 Peter 2: 9 - 10)

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