What makes the Sermon on the Mount so precious is that this is Jesus’ introduction of Himself to the people. The back story is that Jesus grew to maturity, worked as a carpenter and then began to build something different, His Kingdom on earth. He was baptized in the River Jordan, filled with the Holy Spirit, compelled to go to the wilderness to fast and pray, enduring temptation from Satan, and then based His ministry in Capernum.
Jesus presented an upside-down kingdom. The things the Greco-Romans valued, wealth and fame, were devalued by Christ. These qualities of the “fortunate” ones are passed down from God Himself. It is He that imparts these. They are not achieved by good works. Another special factor about these blessings, this blessedness comes from within and is not affected by or caused by outside circumstances.
Similarities with the Beatitudes
There are some similarities between these Beatitudes. They all include social and spiritual aspects, reflecting humility and confidence in God while explaining His personhood and ministry, marked with sacrifice. Keep in mind, during this time, people in the world despised anyone who was weak. Here Jesus is saying anyone who recognizes his own spiritual poverty and helplessness is ready for spiritual growth!
The first four Beatitudes describe the character of one who has been awakened and filled with the Holy Spirit. What is remarkable here is that each Beatitude builds on the previous. Let’s look closer at these and quickly unpack them.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven:
The word “poor” comes from the Greek, ptochoi meaning “crouch” suggesting a beggar who kneels in hope. We come to God hoping He will receive us. This passage is speaking of spiritual poverty, not physical poverty. This is another misnomer. Nowhere in scripture is poverty declared to be a path to spiritual blessing. This verse is not implying that. It means empty yourself to make room for God. There is no other way into the kingdom of God other than with poverty of spirit.
The phrase Kingdom of Heaven has a triple entendre. There is the kingdom of God within our hearts. There is the kingdom of God of the entire body of believers. There is the kingdom of God that has been prepared for believers after this life.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted:
A misnomer is attached to this Beatitude, as well. This verse is not suggesting that those who mourn over tragedy or loss will be comforted. It is much deeper than that. This mourning comes over the recognition of one’s sin, which comes after one recognizes their spiritual poverty. And it is not confined just to sorrow over sin, either.
It is a paradox because people don’t connect blessings with suffering and sorrow. Those who mourn understand that there is purpose and significance in suffering. It brings us to the feet of God and to be aligned with His economy, even if we don’t understand it. In this way, we will find comfort. This would include our sorrow over our sin. This assurance applies to the present, as well as the future.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth:
This Beatitude holds a misnomer, too. Too many people think that being meek is equivalent to being weak. Meekness does not mean to be timid, or quiet, either. It means to bend your will before the presence of God.
Jesus was the perfect example of meek. He had the power and authority of God in Heaven. He could save or destroy. He could employ compassion or wrath. His humility was His testimony; it was strength under control. Meekness yields a God-given contentment. Being meek will yield a temporary manifestation of the heavenly kingdom.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled:
Today this is unfamiliar with us, but in antiquity, it was no rare occurrence for people to die from starvation or dehydration. Anyone hearing Jesus speak these words would instantly be able to imagine someone hungering or thirsting, longing to be filled with food and water to save their life. God has placed a God-shaped vacuum in each of us that only His Spirit can fill. In this “hungering” and “thirsting” phase, one has come to a place where they yearn to seek and walk alongside God, and God will fill the void within them.
A filled believer will have this unyielding desire to have more of God and His will. Truly, the closer we draw to Him on our journey, the less we will desire to sin or to have our own way. We must feed our spirits daily, just as we feed our physical appetite.
The Lord does the filling. He satisfies us. Think of the Hebrews wandering in the desert. Each morning the people had exactly what they required. Some ate more than others, some at less than others, but all were sufficiently filled. So it should be the same spiritually. If we lack a spiritual hunger, something in our life is out of alignment. Ask God to make it right!
Watch this space for Part 3
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…