The Beatitudes, Pt. 1
Oct 18, 2020
Intro: Let us go to the Sermon on the Mount for joy!
- “Blessed” [makapioi], meaning “joy” more like, “happy” is written nine times consecutively for a reason.
- This countercultural list of “Blessed[s]” constitutes happiness!
But, we are talking about a foreboding sermon:
As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means ‘liking’ or enjoying, I suppose no one ‘cares for’ it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a deadlier spiritual condition than that of a man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure.
Kent Hughes offers the same sentiment:
“No other sermon makes us face ourselves like this one…It is violent, but its violence can be our ongoing liberation.”
Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount – “This sermon must be taken as a whole, otherwise heresy comes in.”
- Not a natural teaching.
- What every Christian is meant to be.
- Not an exceptional Christian.
- Not two different groups, classes, or categories.
- Only one kind of person is truly Happy.
This sermon brings us the soul of self-denial for blessing.
- What appears unlivable, the narrow path Jesus calls grace.
- What someone calls: Blessed Selflessness.
- Only God’s power means this brand of selflessness.
- The Beatitudes are links in a chain, taken as a whole.
- Christians re-created to live: The Beatitude Attitudes!
- Differentiating a true believer from a non-believer.
Martin Luther called them Christ’s New Law from a Second Moses.
- With one of two effects.
- Undoing non-Christians from believing they could keep the law, re-directing them to Christ for righteousness.
- Undoing Christians from believing they can produce this “fruit” apart from grace!
The Beatitude life is the secret to being “happy” as a Christian! Selflessness is happiness as a Christian.
Even the world knows something of the Joy of Self-Denial
If you have ever stopped and helped someone stranded on the side of the road, afterward you did not drive away unhappy.
Amy Coney Barrett, is the Presidential nominee to assume the vacant Supreme Court seat.
- The recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opened this seat.
- Justice Barrett, the strict originalist and constitutionalist has been celebrated not only as intelligent but as compassionate.
- Laura Wolk, our country’s first blind Supreme Court clerk testified to Barret’s reach out to her as a law student.
- The technology was lacking and Wolk falling behind setting up a meeting with her professor, Barrett.
- Wolk opened up with her dilemma, falling behind, and poured out her heart.
- Wolk said, “When I finished, Judge Barrett leaned forward and looked at me intently.
- ‘Laura’ she said, with the same measured conviction that we have seen displayed throughout her entire nomination process, ‘this is no longer your problem. It’s my problem.’”
This kind of grace stands out in our world – even shocking Barrett’s liberal combatants! Christ calls this to be the Christian NORM!
Prop: Nine Beatitude Attitudes that Promise Happiness
What Jesus says is felt with greater impact when you understand his diverse audience.
- Pharisees were legalists, earning their righteousness through law-keeping.
- Sadducees were liberals, dismissing anything supernatural, denying the resurrection, trusting their logic.
- Essenes were separatists, ascetics living on the edge of the Dead Sea.
- Zealots were political fanatics, Nationalists mixing religion with activism, who took up arms against Rome.
None of these sects pass muster in Jesus’ army.
ESV Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
ESV Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Ghandi built his life by Jesus’ sermon while missing the point that fulfillment only flows out of a transformed life.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“A person may play Beethovan’s Moonlight Sonata accurately without a single mistake – yet not really play what the composer had in mind…the pianist may mechanically strike the right notes at the right time, yet miss the essence, the soul, of the composition…accurate playing is not what makes him a great musician. It is the expression of what lies behind the notes that enthralls his listeners.”
Now we come to the Beatitude Attitudes.
Beatitude is Latin for Blessing.
- Understand this blessing as being assured of heaven.
- The Kingdom of God now means the Kingdom of God Later!
ESV Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17 ESV)
These nine promises are really one promise. Heaven.
1. Poverty promises heaven (vv. 1-3)
Jesus “seeing the crowds” (v. 1) moved him to create space between “his disciples” and those eavesdropping.
- Contrasting crowds from “learners.” Crowds under religious, political, and fanatical influences - Both confusing and dangerous.
Christ’s “disciples” or “followers” were also in need of teaching.
“He went up on a mountain” (v. 1).
- Jesus sees the “crowds” (cf. 4:25) who “follow him from Galilee” – the same flooding him from all directions (cf. 4:25 “Decapolis, Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan”).
- Going “up on the mountain” the crowds nevertheless listening in!
ESV Matthew 7:28-29 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 afor he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
[Spurgeon] “A natural hill suited his truthful teaching better than a pulpit of marble would have done.”
- Jesus “sat down” to represent authority.
- Rabbis strolled (walked) while teaching – like Jesus often did.
- However, when Jesus sat down he was serious.
- “Sitting” was like a professor holding the “chair” of a department - gravity.
Jesus “opened his mouth” which is part of his triple function ministry (teaching, preaching, healing).
- “What did he teach?”
- Chapters 5-7.
- Christ’s sermon - what God as man says to us this morning.
- Christ’s corrective in the synagogues, correcting legalism, targeting obedience from grace.
In verse 3 says, “Blessed” (v. 3).
- This is significant in terms of the heavy burden of darkness Israelites were under.
The last word from the Old Testament:
ESV Malachi 4:4-6 a"Remember bthe law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules1 that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.5 a"Behold, I will send you bElijah the prophet cbefore the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.6 And he will aturn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and bstrike the land with a decree of utter destruction."
There had been 400 years of silence, darkness, and warning and now Christ!
- Jesus cuts a clear and hard path, but life-giving!
Jesus saying, “Blessed” [Makapioi] means a real concern for happiness.
- Our joy!
- Joy based on self-abasement.
- We have to go down to go up!
- Selflessness means joy!
“Blessed” can be “approval” but this is never formality.
- “Approval”: What Max Lucado’s book title Applause from Heaven captures!
- “Blessed” because Believers.
ESV John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, athat my joy may be in you, and that byour joy may be full.
Jesus offers what seems oxymoronic.
- An upside-down kingdom.
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (v. 3).
This has nothing to do with financial poverty but a person’s state of soul.
Disposition about God, others, and life.
A true rejection of self-reliance.
Membership in Christ’s Kingdom is counter-cultural.
ESV Isaiah 66:2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
The definition of faith - recognizing a complete inability to save yourself from sin (cf. Eph. 2:8-9).
ESV Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
JC Ryle: “Humilty is the first letter in the alphabet of Christianity.”
Calvin: “It is worth noting that no-one is poor in spirit unless he has canceled his own account and rested upon the loving-kindness of God.
Remember the Pharisee and tax collector who went to the temple to pray?
ESV Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
[Calvin] The sum of the Christian life is self-denial. [Institutes]
I am spending more time on this first one because all of the others string together like pearls.
People’s passion for politics exposes a system of thinking that believes this is the end. Death ends life. A Christian living the Beatitudes will see beyond their lifetime.
Second and equally oxymoronic is the blessing on verse 4.
2. Mourning promises comfort (v. 4)
“How does blessing come from mourning?”
- The simple answer is that truly following Christ reveals our own sin.
- So, we “mourn” (v. 4) by what we see happening inside of us!
- Jesus also mourned but not for his sin but for our sin!
ESV Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, (Isa 53:3 ESV)
Thomas Watson: “Sin must have tears. While we carry the fire of sin about us, we must carry the water of tears to quench it.”
DA Carson: “Pleasure dispensers sell cheers and chuckles, all for a neat profit. The summum bonum of life becomes a good time, and the immediate goal is the next high. The world does not like mourners; mourners are wet blankets.”
A little girl who saw a horse and said, “Hey that horse must be a Christian. Why? It’s got such a long face”
“What’s promised for people who genuinely sorrow over their sins?” “Comfort.”
- Comfort is paraklnsis.
- Word family of paraclete - title for the Holy Spirit who comes alongside believers for comfort.
- Daily we must exchange sackcloth for a garment of praise.
When you “mourn” over you sin, God’s “comfort” is applied now!
Look at God’s remaining list of promises.
“What this kind of oxymoronic lifestyle looks like?”
Watch how this plays out in the next 7 Beatitudes.
- Meekness promises inheritance (v. 5)
- Hunger and thirst promises satisfaction (v. 6)
- Mercy promises mercy (v. 7)
- Purity promises God’s presence (v. 8)
- Peacemaking promises sonship (v. 9)
- Persecution promises again a kingdom (v. 10)
- Slander promises reward (vv. 11-12)
These Beatitude Attitudes mean approval from heaven – because nothing in this world compares to this kind of life!
People see this and know this lifestyle is not from this world!
Thomas Watson: The things of the world will no more keep you out the trouble of spirit than a paper sconce will keep out a bullet.
Blessing now with full and final application in heaven.
The pain of this life will not go away but this is never a reason to lower Christ’s standard.
You cannot lower Christ’s standard and find happiness as one of his Children!
We will keep unpacking this life.