Jesus in the Beatitudes: Sermon on the Mount, Part 1 (Matthew 5:1-12)

Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | February, 2, 2014


The Sermon on the Mount

  • In this season, we are celebrating the manifestation or revelation of Jesus as the Christ to the world, especially in his preaching and miracles, his words and works.
  • At the end of Matt 4, we’re told Jesus went about all Galilee preaching “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • The message of sermon on the mount is what it means to repent and to belong to the kingdom of heaven.
  • The sermon is a description of the lifestyle of those who belong to that kingdom.
  • To belong to the kingdom of God is to belong to the people among whom the reign of God has already begun.
  • Jesus himself is the king in God’s kingdom.
  • Where he reigns, there the kingdom of heaven is already present.
  • Jesus’ sermon is intended to give you a vision of what the Lord intends your life to become.
  • He describes a lifestyle patterned after his own, empowered by the Spirit of Christ, living in you by regeneration.
  • The problem is, you live in a fallen world.
  • The new lifestyle of the kingdom is to be lived out where you’re opposed by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
  • That battle will be finally won, the promised rewards will be finally received, the kingdom will be finally consummated when Christ returns and puts everything under his authority in the new heavens and the new earth.
  • But until that time, you’re in a spiritual battle.

The Beatitudes

  • In the beatitudes Jesus announces the principles that govern the citizens in the new community he has come to establish.
  • The beatitudes are not not to be taken individually, but together, like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.
  • They are not merely individual evidences, but mutual evidences of God grace in your life.
  • You may be weaker in one area than another.
  • But taken together, they view various aspects of Christlike character.
  • The kind of life, the quality of life, that Jesus brings into his kingdom is his own life, his own character, his own values, his own ethics.
  • Transformation or sanctification is a process.
  • Kingdom life is Jesus’ life lived out in you as his redeemed subject.
  • As J.I. Packer says, Regeneration is birth; sanctification is growth.
  • God implants desires that were not there before.
  • The HS “works in you to will and to act according to God’s purpose.”
  • And he prompts you to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2.12-13).”
  • That’s what Jesus was doing when he went up into the hill country, sat down and taught his disciples that day.

[1-2 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:]

  • He says,

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • The poor in spirit (v3) are those who know their need for God.
  • t’s not a matter of personal weakness or financial poverty.
  • Although a shortage of resources makes you more aware of your need for God.
  • Instead, it’s an awareness of your own sinfulness before God and thus a willing dependence on
  • It’s the opposite of arrogant self-confidence which treats the needs of others as unimportant and treats God as irrelevant.
  • The second phrase, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” means that you who are poor in spirit gladly accept God’s rule and therefore enjoy the benefits which come to you as his subjects.
  • This phrase is also repeated in v 10, forming bookends for the passage.
  • The kingdom of heaven is a general statement about the blessings you have received and will receive as a member of Christ.
  • The last phrases of vv 4-9 give specific examples of blessings promised to you – shall be comforted, shall be satisfied, and so on.
  • This is the good news, the gospel of the kingdom, Jesus goes about preaching in all Galilee. (4:17,23) (France)
  • He says,

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

  • Mourning is for our own sin and for the sins of others in the church and in the world.
  • It’s not enough to acknowledge your personal spiritual bankruptcy (v3) with a cold, impassive heart.
  • There must be sadness and grieving as well.
  • I’m sure you sometimes feel angry about sin.
  • Do you ever just feel sad for your own sin, or for others who are struggling with sin, or for the sins of your city or the world?
  • Remember how Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because they refuse to welcome the good news?
  • Remember how Jesus weeps over the death of Lazarus? He weeps in part because it is sin that ultimately causes his death.
  • You are to weep as he does.
  • Your comfort is the comfort of the gospel.
  • Isaiah writes “Comfort, comfort my people, her sin has been paid for.” (40:2)
  • The gospel is the good news that king Jesus has come to save and to rule his kingdom.
  • He says, “The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to comfort all who mourn…” (Isa. 61:1-2),(Boice)
  • You can look forward to the day when all sin will be removed – from you, from others and from the world – forever.
  • He says,

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

  • The meek person, in a word, is gentle, trusting God to provide and protect, not seeking vengeance, not arrogant or oppressive.
  • You don’t throw your weight around in order to get your own way.
  • Gentleness entails self-control.
  • You are assertive, not for yourself but for the rights of others.
  • Jesus uses this same word to describe himself when he says, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden…for I am gentle and humble of heart…(Mat 11:29) (France)
  • Jesus promises you will inherit the earth.
  • You will partake of your inheritance in the promised land, the new heavens and new earth.
  • He says,

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

  • Righteousness here is both personal righteousness and social justice.
  • You have a longing for righteousness to be done in your life and for justice be implemented in the world and finally in the messianic kingdom. (Carson)
  • This is actual righteousness, expressed in right deeds.
  • It’s an eagerness to live as God requires.
  • To say as Jesus did, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me.” (John 4.34)
  • This kind of hunger will one day be fully satisfied.
  • The word satisfied here refers to fattening animals, or what we call being “stuffed.” (France)
  • Your longing, your desire, will be finally fulfilled in consummation.
  • He says,

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

  • Mercy is a generous attitude which is willing to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • You are not quick to take offense or gloat over others’ shortcomings or weaknesses. (France)
  • Mercy includes both forgiveness for the guilty and compassion for the suffering and needy.
  • It’s acknowledging to others that YOU are a sinner, and therefore have compassion on others, since they are sinners too. (Carson)
  • Because of the grace poured out on you, you can be merciful to others. (Boice)
  • The reward is not mercy shown by others, but by God. In fact, God requires mercy.
  • What you give will be given to you.
  • If you give mercy to others you will receive mercy from God.
  • If not, you will not.
  • He says,

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

  • As one who is pure in heart you are truthful and actively seeking for God.
  • This is very close in meaning to v6.
  • You long to live as God requires.
  • Pretending, deception, and moral filth can’t coexist with sincere devotion to Christ. Doing so is hypocrisy.
  • In first century Judaism there was a strong emphasis on ritual purity and cleansing by washing.
  • This is an emphasis on washing or cleansing of your heart in contrast to washing merely what’s external.
  • Today there’s an emphasis in the church at large on being “authentic.”
  • However, this often is a reference to something that is merely external.
  • For example, if the pastor wears jeans in church he’s being “authentic” because “that’s what he wears at home.”
  • Or if the pastor tells jokes during the sermon, he’s being authentic because “that’s how he would talk at a party.”
  • Some critics have said that this emphasis on the “authentic” – whether in the pulpit or in the pews – has replaced the biblical emphasis on holiness or purity.
  • It’s an emphasis on something mostly external to the exclusion of the internal attitude of the heart, a desire to please others instead of a desire to please God above all.
  • Those who are pure in heart are promised a vision of God.
  • If you have trusted in Christ for salvation, who is the exact representation of God’s nature (Heb 1:3), you have seen God with the eyes of faith, and one day you will “see him as he is,” and “face to face” in the consummation. (France)
  • He says,

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

  • God’s true people “seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34.14).
  • Peacemakers don’t merely seek a peaceful attitude of heart for themselves.
  • They seek to make peace in several ways.
  • They make peace between God and men by the proclamation of the gospel.
  • They seek reconciliation with their own enemies.
  • And they bring together those who are at odds with one another.
  • This requires overcoming your fear of proclaiming the gospel,
    • overcoming your desire for vengeance when you are wronged, and
    • overcoming your preference for not getting involved in others people’s disagreements.
  • The issue is not merely personal relationships, it’s faithfulness to God’s cause in the face of opposition.
  • Because you have experienced peace between yourself and God through the cross of X, you can and must be actively involved in peacemaking.
  • It’s part of who you are in Christ.
  • Peacemakers will be called God’s children. That is, God will recognize them as his true children.
  • Sons of God share the father’s character, and God is the ultimate peacemaker in Jesus Christ. (France).
  • Finally, he says,

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

  • Pursuing righteousness in your life and in the world around you can rile certain people up.
  • It can threaten their personal interests, their self-respect.
  • It can upset their denial.
  • There will be a cost to live as subjects of Jesus’ kingdom because the rest of society doesn’t share your values.
  • There will be persecution.
  • Those who have spoken out for God have always been subjects of violence from the ungodly.
  • The cause of the persecution is not simply righteousness, not merely your distinctive life-style, but specifically, “because of me,” because of Jesus.
  • Your moral conduct is grounded in the authority and radical demands of Jesus himself.
  • The disciples of Christ share in Christ’s sufferings in this life.
  • Jesus says, “’A servant is not greater than his master.
  • If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (Jn.15:20)
  • To be persecuted for God is therefore a badge of honor.
  • It means joining in with Jesus and the prophets who have gone before you as with “a band of brothers.” (France)
  • Verses 11-12 turn from third person to second person.
  • Jesus is emphasizing to his closest disciples that THEY are going to stand out from the rest.
  • YOU have a corporate impact as a community of disciples, as an alternative society in the world.
  • A city on a hill is noticed by all who pass by, AND it’s easy to take potshots at.
  • A people shining the light of truth into a dark world virtually invites criticism and attack.
  • The call to be glad about persecution sounds strange.
  • But as with those who mourn, the blessing is not in the suffering in itself, but in the promised outcome.
  • Here the reward becomes explicit – “your reward is great in heaven.”
  • Yet it’s NOT a reward that’s a repayment of God to you for your good works.
  • God’s reward goes way beyond that.
  • The good that is promised to you – that brings rejoicing – far outweighs the bad you may experience now.
  • Your heavenly reward includes – at the very least – an unending face to face relationship with God in the consummation.

Jesus in the beatitudes.

  • Jesus says, “blessed are those who mourn.”
  • Jesus mourns when he sees that the people are like sheep without a shepherd.
  • Jesus says “blessed are the meek.”
  • Jesus is meek and humble.
  • He lays a gentle, easy yoke on his people.
  • Jesus says “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
  • He hungers for and fulfills all righteousness by his sinless life.
  • Jesus says “blessed are the merciful.” He is merciful.
  • What most often moves him to perform miracles is his compassion for the sick and needy.
  • When he sees people in need, he empathizes with them and heals them.
  • Jesus says “blessed are the pure in heart.”
  • He is so pure that no one can find a legitimate charge against him at his trial.
  • Jesus says “blessed are the peacemakers.”
  • He offers healing and salvation to the people he meets.
  • And he offers his own life to reconcile you to God.
  • Jesus offers peace but not at any price.
  • Jesus says blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.
  • “He [himself] was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
  • Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
  • yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted…
  • he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
  • upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isa.53:3-5)  [Doriani]


Categories: 2014, Epiphany, Matthew, Sermons by Scripture, The Life and Ministry of Jesus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: