The Beatitudes are a wonderful reminder as we head into Thanksgiving week here in America, to consider the blessings inherent in knowing Christ and seeking His kingdom. They were among the earliest teachings of Christ. He taught them to a huge multitude of people clamoring to hear His message and are recorded in Matthew 5.
The beauty of the Beatitudes is they can each stand alone as a singular principle. But, there are also deeper and broader mysteries beneath them. When examined more closely, a progression and prophetic pattern emerges. Jesus was not just giving nice guidelines for living. He was setting a foundation for the salvation plan of the Father and foretelling events to come. Hidden within these few statements stands at least one very core truth: mankind has a need, and He our Redeemer is the solution.
Let’s take a look at each verse in this beautiful tapestry:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Poor in spirit does not mean materially poor, but rather having a posture of neediness before the God of the universe, humbly seeing our wretchedness without Him and compared to Him. Those who approach Him in the simple truth of understanding their need and frailty are promised eternal life.
This is the foundation of Jesus’ purpose on earth, to offer eternal life to those who would trust they were lost without Him. He was in this simple statement hinting why He came and what it would take to receive His gift: Awareness. Belief. Humility. Trust in what He would teach and offer… i.e., trust in Him. All are wrapped in this one Beatitude, and they hold the key to eternal life!
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Standing by itself, this is a sweet promise of never being alone in sorrow. But, how? Suffering is an unavoidable part of life on earth. How can we not sometimes suffer alone?
Because the poor in spirit, those who recognize their need and trust Christ, receive His Holy Spirit from the birth of their faith in Him. He comes to dwell with us, and from then on there is nothing we will go through completely alone. Promise kept.
Looking deeper, this Beatitude contains two prophecies: it foretold both a time of mourning and comfort to come. You see, He knew those who loved and followed Him would mourn when He was crucified, but following His death and resurrection would come the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Prophecies fulfilled.
Going even further, in this Beatitude Christ revealed more about the Father’s plan. Following the moment of understanding our need for God (poor in spirit), we mourn our spiritual poverty. This is repentance. We recognize the huge gap between the Father’s perfection and by comparison our grave impurity.
But, in this promise Christ assured, those who mourn their condition WILL be comforted! He was saying very simply, God has a plan, a Redeemer for you to meet the need.
Of course, when He spoke those words, in that moment He was still hiding the mystery, “and you are looking at Him!”
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Meekness perfectly follows being poor in spirit and mourning. For, now we’ve seen our spiritual condition and have come to repentance. Meekness is gentle humility, the absolutely most appropriate response when we see ourselves in comparison with a Holy God. The good news is, when we come to this ending of ourselves is when we gain everything.
Strong’s dictionary says, “Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will.”
How true! Standing alone, this Beatitude calls out another truth. In this power-hungry world, Jesus is saying those who do not clamor for power are the ones who will ultimately possess everything! While the world has it backwards, the sheep of His pasture gain everything through gentility and humility.
One more thread to pull here is the prophecy contained within this Beatitude promising inheritance of the earth. The fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that his seed would “inherit” the earth. Who inherits something from someone who dies? Most often, a spouse or a blood relative!
Paul would explain in Galatians 3, the ultimate Seed of Abraham (and the entire point of ancient Israel) was Christ. We in Christ are the family of God, family through His blood, and the benefits of being His family include an inheritance. All in Christ were grafted into the family of God and have spread worldwide, thus we have “inherited” the earth. Prophecy fulfilled!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
We see the progression growing: The poor in spirit (who see their need) and mourn their condition (repent) then approach God in meekness (empty of themself) now hunger for purity, thirst to be right with God. And their promise is they WILL be filled! No one will hunger and thirst for Him without satisfaction!
So many things in today’s culture promise pleasure, create craving for every type of human escape, and most leave us wanting more, never satisfied. Yet, Jesus said the one thing we can count on finding in abundance, if we search for it, is righteousness. In pursuit of Him – Christ, the Righteous – we will find true peace.
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7
Strong’s dictionary clarifies the meaning of merciful. What was translated as “merciful” actually meant able to receive mercy in addition to having the capacity to give it. How beautiful!
Standing alone, this verse shows us the heart of God is wrapped in mercy. When we are merciful to ourselves and others, we join His tender heart toward His beloved creation.
Adding this now to the progression: The poor in spirit see their need, have repented and emptied themself before Him and crave His purity. They are now in the position to receive mercy from God, and they WILL receive it. That is a promise. It is about divine forgiveness and salvation.
The heart of God from the beginning of time was about mercy, about a plan to pour compassion out upon His struggling creation. Ancient Hebrew prophet, Isaiah, promised the Branch/Redeemer, and this prophecy was fulfilled by God through His Son, Jesus. Mercy promised and mercy fulfilled!
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
The continuation and next step in the progression is relationship! Those who have seen their need, repented, humbled and emptied themself, thirsted for His purity and received mercy… now have relationship with Him! His presence will become real as He draws near to those who draw near to Him. As they receive the Spirit of Christ Who dwells with them – they are not alone, they know Him.
This verse confirms that those who wish to see/know God must be pure. How can someone who is poor in spirit, who sees his wretchedness and his need become pure? He needs a Savior! Only the purity of Christ can make it possible to stand before God, to dwell in His presence, the Holy who cannot dwell with sin.
Standing alone, this principle reveals nothing like purity draws the Spirit of God to us. When we continually seek it, and work to purify our entertainments and pursuits, there are no barriers between us and Him. We begin to see Him in everything, in often surprising ways as we innocently dwell with Him.
Do you see how the entire plan of salvation is wrapped in this passage of Scripture we call The Beatitudes? It was a principled and prophetic progression in which He stood before them and hinted at their need and His purpose, the very Christ who came to Redeem.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9
Standing alone, true peacemakers are a rare find, aren’t they? When angry words are exchanged, when stress is taking over between opposing parties, it is the peacemakers who God respects above all others. It is hard and requires maturity, but the act of making peace is the pursuit of true, Christ-like character. But this verse does far more than stand alone. It is the next step in the progression of this deep, prophetic mystery and unfolding of the process of salvation.
You see, those who have admitted their need (poor in spirit), repented (mourned), gently humbled themself (meek before God), who yearn for Him and His purity (hunger and thirst for righteousness), have now received mercy and a relationship with Him (the ability to see God)… and they have now become peacemakers!
“God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18
We’ve made peace first with God, and now we can in turn become peacemakers in this world, leading others to discover the redemption and peace we have received through Christ.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
The Lord understood that those who have come through the redemption/salvation process and established a beautiful relationship with Him would shine like a city on a hill, like lights unable to be hidden in darkness, and it would cost them. He was not promising a life of ease, rather the opposite. But, He did promise reward for suffering. We are joint heirs with Him and we have so much joy ahead of this difficult life. Someday, suffering will be over and eternity is nothing but bright in His presence of love and peace.
This Beatitude offers the same promise as the first. The first said the poor in spirit (humble awareness of need for God) receive the Kingdom of Heaven. This one adds, so do those who are persecuted for righteousness. It is all part of the journey and destination for those who follow Him with all their heart, and the reward is forever.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11
It is poignant that Christ again clarified suffering and persecution would happen. He even went on to say in the very next verse, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in Heaven: for they also persecuted the prophets who came before you.”
What was just under the surface was part of the overall prophecy. The salvation plan must lead to His sacrifice, His death and Resurrection. He would be falsely accused, and so might we be. Our salvation and relationship with Him might lead to our persecution as did His life and ministry.
There is a fellowship in suffering for the cause of Christ. It unites us across time with the forefathers and martyrs of our faith. It bonds us in understanding with HIM. This should comfort us that we are in the best company, that WE ARE NOT ALONE in the experience of suffering. Finally, we can rest despite the losses of this life knowing what we gain in eternity! All will be made right!
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4
What a promise! This is our future. How beautiful are The Beatitudes. There is so much surrounding and underneath them, isn’t there? The plan of salvation. Prophecy of things to come. Promises to be kept, many already kept.
This miraculous, deep and wide message was not uncommon to our Lord Jesus. He taught so often in symbols, in parables, in mysteries, just as the Spirit of God communicated with God’s prophets and people (often through dreams) before Christ. It is the same way His Spirit continues to communicate today.
Those who have recognized dreams from the Spirit of God know what this means. He is the same God! Those who knew His ways of old recognized Him in the flesh during His life on earth, and we still know His voice today. “My sheep hear my voice and I know them (relationship), and they follow Me.” Jesus – John 10:27.
The Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is the kindest and best Savior. His way is often opposite the world’s way (the flesh and Hell’s way), but the rewards are immeasurable and eternal.
Be at peace, family of God. He always keeps His Word.