Beatitudes – An Introduction

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
Matthew 5:1-2 (NIV)

Read: Matthew 5:1-12

Consider: The Sermon on the Mount is probably one of the best known parts of the Bible, yet it is easy to superficially look at what Jesus said, while missing the point of how we should be living our lives day-by-day. The Beatitudes are only one part of this sermon, but it is this small section that we will look at over the next few posts.

I have taken the following quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Matthew 5. While the language is perhaps archaic, the sentiments it expresses are as true today, as they were in Jesus’ time and also when Matthew Henry was writing his commentary. Matthew Henry says of the Beatitudes:
This is designed to rectify the ruinous mistakes of a blind and carnal world. Blessedness is the thing which men pretend to pursue … But most mistake the end, and form a wrong notion of happiness; and then no wonder that they miss the way; they choose their own delusions, and court a shadow. The general opinion is, Blessed are they that are rich, and great, and honourable in the world; they spend their days in mirth, and their years in pleasure; they eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and carry all before them with a high hand, and have every sheaf bowing to their sheaf; happy the people that is in such a case; and their designs, aims, and purposes are accordingly; they bless the covetous (Ps. 10:3 ); they will be rich. Now our Lord Jesus comes to correct this fundamental error, to advance a new hypothesis, and to give us quite another notion of blessedness and blessed people, which, however paradoxical it may appear to those who are prejudiced, yet is in itself, and appears to be to all who are savingly enlightened, a rule and doctrine of eternal truth and certainty, by which we must shortly be judged. If this, therefore, be the beginning of Christ’s doctrine, the beginning of a Christian’s practice must be to take his measures of happiness from those maxims, and to direct his pursuits accordingly.

What Jesus says in the Beatitudes is counter-cultural and is just as shocking today as it sounded to those who heard Jesus say these things some 2,000 years ago. What is being said is that what, might on the surface look like a loss will in fact be a gain and, by inference, that what may look like a gain will in fact be a loss. This reminds me of what Paul said in Philippians 3:7 – But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Over the next few posts we will look at each of the Beatitudes to see how that might apply to us today.

Pray: Father, give us an open heart and mind to look carefully at our lives to see what we are pursuing in an attempt to achieve happiness. May we be willing to learn from what Jesus said about the source of true blessedness. Amen

Every blessing

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