Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes (Part 1)

Studying for this week’s lesson has been a challenge for me and that’s exactly what I prayed for this week. I asked God to challenge me and he certainly did. I am going to split up the Beatitudes because there is so much we can learn from these 10 verses. Keep praying that God will show me his words and that I will portray them in the way he leads. 

Take a minute and read Matthew 5:3-12. This lesson will mainly focus on verses 3-4.

The Beatitudes are some of my favorite passages in the Bible and I like to think of them as the “Attitudes” we should “Be”. The word “Beatitude” is the Latin word that translates as “Blessed” and Jesus starts out each Beatitude with this word. Warren Wiersbe says being blessed is, “an inner satisfaction and sufficiency that does not depend on outward circumstances for happiness.” When Jesus says we are blessed, that means we are truly satisfied and content with Him. “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great gain.” (1 Tim. 6:6). If we walk with the Lord, he is all we need.  The points he makes in the next few verses are the things that will bring us closer to him.

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

a. What exactly does “poor in spirit” mean? The NLT translates as, “who are poor and realize their need for him”; Berkley translates as, “they who know their spiritual poverty”; Wiersbe translates as, “to be humble, to have a correct estimate of oneself.” It is basically saying that we realize our sin and that we need a Savior. We cannot do things on our own. We have been humbled and realize we aren’t worth anything. David Guzik explains, “Poverty of spirit cannot be artificially induced by self-hatred; it is brought about by the Holy Spirit and our response to His working in our hearts.” The Holy Spirit leads us to a place where we let go of our pride and our personal independence and accept that we need God. Guzik goes on to explain that this realization must be a “prerequisite” for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. You cannot enter God’s Kingdom unless you know that you are a sinner and you turn from your sins.

b. How can we develop this attitude? James 4:7-8;10 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Commit yourself and yield to God’s authority. Satan cannot hurt you if you are walking closely with Christ. Lead a pure life and be humble before God. Heaven will be rewarded to those who “realize their need for him.”

  • Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

a. Before studying this scripture, I thought that this verse meant anyone who was mourning over the loss of a loved one or someone who is grief-stricken over the things of this life. But God has shown me that this goes hand-in-hand with being “poor in spirit.” We actually mourn the evil in our hearts and the sin that we have done. Guzik explains further, “The ancient Greek grammar indicates an intense degree of mourning. Jesus does not speak of casual sorrow for the consequences of our sin, but a deep grief before God over our fallen state. What do those who mourn actually mourn about? Their mourning is not over just anything, but they mourn over sin. To really be followers of Jesus, we must mourn over our sin and the ruin and separation from God that comes to our life from sin.”  When Adam sinned, the human race was separated from God. God blesses us and comforts us when we mourn over our nature of sin and our realizing we need him.

b. How can we develop this attitude? James 4:9 says we are to, “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” When our spiritual poverty is identified, we should grieve over the things we have done and ask God for forgiveness and the comfort that only he can bring. “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort” (2 Cor.1:3). His comfort can come to us through His strength, encouragement, and hope. John MacArthur says, “the comfort of Matthew 5:4 is future only in the sense that the blessing comes after the obedience; the comfort comes after the mourning.” We have to mourn to be comforted. And only Jesus can give us that comfort. When we are weary and heavy-laden, he will give us rest (Matthew 11:28).

May God reveal to you the severity of your spiritual poverty, which will lead you to a humble mourning, which will lead you to a comfort you’ve never known.

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

For the next couple months I am going to be sharing with you the words of Jesus when he taught the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). I have briefly studied this part of scripture when I taught it to my Sunday School kids but I felt led to take it to a deeper level. My prayer through this journey is that I will learn and understand the core of  this message and that you will experience the same thing. Please keep me in your prayers as God opens my eyes and heart and that I can share the unwavering truth of this sermon to you.

Jesus was in the prime of his ministry when the Sermon on the Mount was given. He was very popular at this point in his life and had numerous crowds following him to hear his words and see him perform miracles. The Sermon on the Mount is probably one of his most famous sermons and is very powerful. A.T. Robertson describes it like this; “Jesus repeated His sayings many times as all great teachers and preachers do, but this sermon has unity, progress, and consummation. It does not contain all that Jesus taught by any means, but it stands out as the greatest single sermon of all time, in its penetration, pungency, and power.” 

The Sermon on the Mount is pretty much a guideline on how Christians should live their lives. Wiersbe explains it beautifully; “The first sixteen verses of Matthew 5 describe the true Christian and deal with character. The rest of the Sermon on the Mount deals with conduct that grows out of character. Character always comes before conduct, because what we are determines what we do.” Our conduct determines our character. If we live according to the conduct that Jesus describes in these chapters then our character will grow and our walk with God flourishes.

Matthew 5:1-2, “One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.”

a. Verse one indicates there was a “crowd.” Matthew 4:25 says that large crowds were following him everywhere he went and they included the towns of Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and east of the Jordan River. This shows that Jesus was becoming very popular in his ministry. Many ears were there to hear but not all could understand what the true intention of Christ’s mission was.

b. The disciples gathered around to be taught by their Lord. David Guzik states that Jesus was speaking mainly to his disciples. But it also applies to ALL of his disciples, not just the 12. These are the examples we should follow as disciples of Christ.

c. Jesus sat down and the crowd stood as he taught. This was the normal practice of rabbis and their followers. Spurgeon says, “The Preacher sat, and the people stood. We might make a helpful change if we were sometimes to adopt a similar plan now. I am afraid that ease of posture may contribute to the creation of slumber of heart in the hearers.” Will our hearts slumber when we are put in an uncomfortable position for Christ? When Jesus sits to speak with us, will we stand up to listen? A true disciple is a “doer” and not just a “hearer.”

Reader – I pray that you will open your heart and your mind during these next few months and that you will stand up to listen when Christ sits to speak to you. Conduct yourselves the way Jesus calls you to, build your character through his teachings, and watch your walk with God increasingly grow.

Praise or Crucify?

I love how God speaks to us through his word but he also speaks to us through other sources. This week he has spoken to me through my devotionals and books that I have been reading. One such book is called the “Explicit Gospel” by Matt Chandler. It is a book that calls us to know the gospel more “explicitly” and calls us to true Christianity. In chapter 3 he is explaining the crucifixion of Jesus in great detail and this quote struck me:

“The crowd, who five days earlier had shouted ‘Hosanna! Hosanna!’ and laid down palm leaves as Jesus rode into town, now screams, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Mark 15:13)

Picture the crowd praising and glorifying God on that Palm Sunday and then on Friday they are cursing and demanding his death! I had never thought about it in this sense before and it really made me think about my own life. How many times have I praised God in one moment and turned around and cursed his name by being disobedient in that same moment? How many times have I pleaded to God for help and then turned by back on him the moment things look up? I am just like this crowd that cries Hosanna in one moment and Crucify him in the next.  Look at what James tells us in chapter 3:

“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (3:8-9)

The tongue can be used as an evil device and if we do not use it to glorify God then we are using it for evil. What we say one day contradicts what we say the next day. We go to church on Sundays and we praise him shouting Hosanna! The next day we are cursing him and we cry out Crucify him! God sends us a miracle that we’ve been praying for and we cry out Hosanna! God does not give us the answer we want and we cry out Crucify him!

And it’s not just our tongues that profess this but also our actions. We can go to church on Sunday and go through the motions but Monday morning it’s like we never heard a word. When everything is going our way we do whatever we want and when the littlest thing happens that throws us off that’s when we call out to God for help. We have all seen or been through this. God is important when times are tough and when things are smooth-sailing again we forget about him. 1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” We can talk the talk all day long but we can never live in Christ unless we walk the walk.

It’s time we decide which side we are for.  Jesus says in Revelation 3:16, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  We cannot play both sides. We are either for evil or for good. It’s time to stop riding the fence. It’s time we lay it all down and become a true follower of Christ.

Will your words and actions scream Hosanna or will they scream Crucify him?