SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
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 satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive 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.
Blessed are you when others 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 they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-12)
Last week, we began our study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount primarily by studying Jesus’ call for repentance because the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In fact, the proclamation of God’s kingdom was the core of Christ’s earthly ministry. He is the great King, the son of David, to whom the Father would give an eternal throne over all the earth. Knowing that Jesus is the King, ushering in His kingdom, is crucial to our study of the Sermon on the Mount because the sermon is essentially the handbook for living as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
As we now dive into the sermon itself, it opens with the Beatitudes, one of the most famous biblical texts. Each Beatitude is composed of three parts. First, they open with a blessing, which biblically means to have the full favor of God. Second, they provide a characteristic for the one who is blessed (poor in spirit, mournful, meek, etc.). Third, they list the reward for embodying each characteristic. Together, these characteristics and rewards of a blessed person form a challenging introduction to the greatest sermon ever preached.
Christ’s followers, the citizens of the His kingdom, are favored by God, blessed. Thus, we should understand these characteristics to be the characteristics of a Christian, and the rewards are the rewards of a Christian. Though, in this life, we will never perfectly embody these descriptions, their presence in our life reveals the fruit of our belief in the good news of Jesus Christ. Though they stand against the world’s values and ideas of success, the Beatitudes succinctly proclaim the qualities and nature of God’s kingdom.
Read verses 1-12 and discuss the following.
- How are the characteristics listed by Jesus in the Beatitudes opposed to society’s ideals?
- If the Beatitudes are so different from what we would expect, why does Jesus say we are blessed for being them?
- Jesus concludes each Beatitude with a promised reward, but what is the ultimate reward that Christ’s followers will receive (the reward to which each of these points)?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Obey. Since the Beatitudes are characteristics that should define a Christian’s behavior, slowly and prayerfully consider each one, evaluating how much your life displays them.
- Pray. Ultimately, we will never be able to live out the Beatitudes in our own strength, so pray for grace to live as Christ has called us to live.