Jesus gained a little distance from the multitudes by going into a mountain where His disciples gathered around Him. He enumerated a series of beatitudes which mark the opening of what we know as The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5). Each beatitude is a divine blessing pronounced on those possessing certain qualities. Each blessing is followed by a reason for the blessing. The beatitudes do not describe different types of individuals. Rather, they are a composite of what a godly person should be. Contrast that to the Jews of Jesus’ day who were a fractured nation consisting of multiple sects. Of these, the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes were the most prominent. Tradition, heritage and self-imposed regulations were hallmarks of their religious practice. They had abandoned the greatest commandment, love for God, long ago (Matt 22:36-37, Luke 11:42).
Jesus blesses the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted. The Jews were intended to be the salt of the earth. They were to be a beacon to the world. God’s chosen people were to demonstrate the glory of their Creator. If that influence is spent how can it be regained? Sadly, it cannot. Just like salt that has drawn damp, there is nothing left to do but to discard it. Jesus reassures the disciples that it is not His intent to destroy the Law. Rather, the Law and teaching of the Prophets will stand until all is fulfilled. However, they must do better than the scribes and Pharisees. They must remain righteous in order to enter the pending kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matt 5:3-10 NKJV)
“Blessed” means extremely fortunate, happy. Those who demonstrate these characteristics receive the generous benefits prescribed by God. Not only may you look at the Beatitudes as a composite of character but also as a progression. Start with humility, then add empathy, gentleness, spiritual appetite, mercy, purity and active peacemaking to the point of persecution. Those who achieve this pinnacle are told to “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:12 (NKJV)
As with all our service to God, it is not about “me”. It is always about God. His Will. His Way. His Glory. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)