You are on page 1of 3

The Beatitudes, Part 1 – The Poor in Spirit, Those Who Mourn, the Meek, and Those Who Hunger

and Thirst for Righteousness Matthew 5:1-12 Jesus sat down to teach His disciples on a hillside in the wilderness while a large crowd of people gathered around. Jesus’ teaching is very simple and easy to understand. It is not sophisticated doctrine, but clear descriptions and instructions. His teaching is contrary to the way that we normally think and act. People say that if someone is satisfied and doesn’t need anything, that if someone is content, self-confident, and without stress or concern—that these people are blessed and happy. And we try to be those people. But Jesus teaches differently. He turns everything on its head. And we know in our hearts that His teaching is right. He is right and we are wrong. But even when we agree with him, we cannot obey Him because our natures are bent. Still Jesus says, “Come to me and you will find rest for your souls.” He is the answer. Jesus is not a moral philosopher who offers no help. He gives us a perfect standard, and then without weakening or compromising that standard in any way, He works so that we are perfect. He says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” First, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, fully paying our debt of sin. Second, He gives us His Holy Spirit to work in us to be more like Him day by day. Here, in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives eight characteristics of people who He is making perfect. These are the Beatitudes, which means happy or blissful. The rest of Jesus’ sermon is about how we should live. The Beatitudes are about who we should be. Today, I will only preach on the first four. 1. Poor in spirit, v3 When we are poor in spirit, we humbly acknowledge our spiritual lack and spiritual poverty. We must be like the tax collector in Luke 18:9-13. Luke 18:9-13 Only those who are poor in spirit can receive anything from God. We must come to God with nothing and acknowledge that we are insufficient. We must beg for His charity. We come to Him as beggars. How does God receive spiritual beggars? Like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son! He gives these people everything! Are you ready to beg? Or are you still holding your head high? Are you stiff-necked? Let go your pride and gain everything! Give up your own righteousness and receive God’s righteousness! Give up your own sufficiency and receive God’s all-abundant sufficiency!

2. Those who mourn, v4 These people mourn for their own sin, like Peter when he fell at Jesus’ feet and cried out, “Away from me, Lord! For I am a sinful man!” or like the tax collector in Luke 18. Or, they mourn for the sin and consequences of sin suffered by others. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He wept over Jerusalem and the judgment that was coming on that city. He wept for His friend Lazarus. John 11:32-33 Jesus wept. There is a time for mourning. We should mourn over sin and its consequences. But, Jesus says that Christians are blessed because they will be comforted. Psalm 126:6 When we press into God, we find that He abundantly meets our need. When you are heartbroken for your own sin, will you press into God? He is more than enough. When you prayerfully weep for your friends and family who aren’t right with God, you are sowing seed. Weep for your school! Weep for your city! Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the crowds. But as much as Christians mourn, they are blessed because one day they will be comforted. God promises to wipe every tear from their eye and there will be no more death nor mourning nor crying nor pain, for He will make all things new. 3. The meek, v5 Jesus was gentle and humble, not rough and arrogant. He was born in a manger and entered Jerusalem on a young donkey. He asked His disciples to become like little children, not immature, but less self-conscious about what other people thought of them. Jesus stooped down to was His disciples’ feet. No servant is greater than his master. If Jesus, our Lord and Master and Teacher, humbled Himself like this, how much more should we be ready to serve one another? “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Are you willing to take all the honor and respect that you think you deserve and lay it aside, and instead humble yourself to serve the least of your brothers and sisters? If you do this, do you know what God promises? “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted, but he who exalts himself will be humbled.” God will lift you up so that you will be first in His kingdom. You will inherit the earth—whatever you need, God will put it at your disposal. 4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, v6 Righteousness is a foreign word to many people today. It seems old-fashioned. People today don’t like to think about righteousness or about anything in black-and-white terms. But reason tells us that there is such a thing as good and such a thing as evil. It’s not just what society happens to say is good or evil in a particular generation of people.

The Bible shows us what good is—it is the very character of God. So when you read through the Law that God gave to Moses, what you see in the character of God: His holiness, His mercy, His justice, His faithfulness, His concern for the weak and oppressed. If you could sum up the character of God in one word, it would be “righteousness.” God gave the law to Israel because He wanted them to show all the earth His character. He wanted a people that would be a light to others, to show them the way. But what we see in the Old Testament is that people cannot exhibit God’s nature except by the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament prophesies that this will happen—God will send His Spirit down to dwell in people and change their hearts so that they can be like Him. This is what Jesus came to accomplish. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness hunger and thirst for God’s character. They want to see God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven, first in their own lives but also in their sphere of influence. They hunger for the word of God in them to change them and through them to change the world. They hunger and thirst for God’s Spirit to fill them up, even as they are continually filled. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” We cannot be satisfied with what God has done in us and through us to this point, but we must earnestly desire more. We must say, “Lord, I’m ready for you to change me because I want more of your righteousness in my life! I want you to use me to be an instrument for righteousness!” Jesus promises to answer this prayer. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”