1 “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying: 3‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”
These opening words from the premier preacher of all time, Jesus, are known as the Beatitudes. It’s here that Jesus sets forth eight statements which provide the best definition of a disciple ever delineated. While this is probably the most well-known part of Jesus preaching , it is arguably the least understood, and most certainly the least obeyed. These eight qualities can only be lived out by believers and are spiritual standards that come about only through surrender to the Savior. Jesus is not saying, “Live like this in order to be saved.” He’s saying, “Live like this because you are saved.” Having Christ in your life should result in a change in your life. Our conduct must flow out of character. These Beatitudes are a package deal, not something we pick and choose as if we are ordering from a menu. As a Christ one they should all be displayed in our lives, Jesus was not speaking to eight separate groups of disciples, some who are meek and others who hungered for Him. One of our greatest mistakes is to believe and say well, “I’m just not merciful” or “I’m just not a peacemaker.” We can’t pick the ones we like and ignore those we deem more difficult, like being pure and being prepared for persecution. These beatitudes are the exact opposite of what our flesh wants to do and while they may be easy to appreciate, they are difficult to apply. It is here that we are reminded that our behavior flows out of belief, that correct doctrine must always lead to Christ like behavior. As His disciples we should be different, Christians should be stamped by Christ, not the culture or our corrupt nature. Jesus wants us to seek the blessed life not one of bondage, in John 10:10 Jesus clearly states His purpose for our lives and contrasts it with that of the Prince of darkness, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” With stunning simplicity, and practical preaching that any age could understand, Jesus brought blessing rather than condemnation. Instead of just a lecture there was love, instead of guilt there was grace. What a powerful contrast between the compassion of Christ and the preaching of the Pharisees. God’s plan for us is a blessed life not one filled with the bitterness. Being blessed is an inner satisfaction and sufficiency, not one that is dependent on outward circumstances for its happiness. Happiness depends on happenings, but blessings are based on Him. So let me ask you how badly do you want His blessing? In the first two verses as Jesus prepares to preach we see three attitudes that are displayed by blessed disciples. First disciples should:
- Draw close to Jesus
It says that “His disciples came to Him” If we say that we love Jesus, then we will want to get as close to Christ as we can. His disciples were not content to hang out at the bottom of the mountain; they were willing to climb to be with Christ. Often being with Christ is an uphill climb, it requires not only looking to Jesus but also longing for Jesus. It may be easier to hang out with the crowd than with Christ but dedicated disciples don’t settle for comfort and complacency they seek out Christ. Are you settling for the path of least resistance, going with the crowd or are you climbing with Christ? Are you actively climbing the mountain to meet with Him every day? This may mean that you have to break away from the crowd, not just people but priorities, it includes your crowded calendar. Why are we so willing to schedule the secular but not the Savior? What part of your calendar are you carving out for Christ? The truth is that if time with Him is going to happen, you’re going to have to make it happen. Is busyness keeping you from blessing? If you want to be close to Christ then start climbing, climb out of your bed of excuses and set up a time and a place to meet with the Master. Not only do disciples desire to draw close to Christ but they also:
- Learn from the Lord
Verse 2 says: “And he began to teach them” The word “disciple” literally means a “student” or “learner.” This means that we not only desire to draw close to Christ but that we dine on His words. These disciples didn’t want to miss anything He said, so they hung on His every word. As believers we are to dine on God’s Word with a ferocity and a frequently. Job said in Job 23:12: “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” In Matthew 4:4 Jesus when tempted by the devil answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” What is your source for truth, is it God’s Word or the world, are you listening to truth or trash? Don’t tune out truth. Not only are we to learn from the Lord but we must:
- Live out what we learn
Our learning must be more than just listening; it has to be lived out. As Jesus concluded His preaching he contrasted those who heard his words and put them into practice with those who just sat and soaked but never exhibited any life change. Those who live out what they learn are like those who build their lives on a firm foundation, while those who listen to His words but don’t live them are like the foolish who built their lives on the shifting sand: “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” Matthew 7:24-27. This is more than just memorizing scripture its putting it into motion, look knowledge in itself isn’t life changing, it’s the application of knowledge that is. Are you living out the Lords lessons or are you living a lie? If you want to live a blessed life draw close, learn from the Lord and live out what He teaches.