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Sermon on the Mount Series: The Beatitudes


Every Christian reading this would agree that the teachings of Jesus are difficult to understand. His wisdom, being the God of Creation, is far beyond our own understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). In this blog series, we will unpack some of the most difficult teachings from Jesus, which come from Matthew 5-7 in the illustrious Sermon on the Mount. Each blog will touch on different teachings from Jesus found within His most famous sermon, in an effort to help you apply His teachings to your life as a Christian working in the sport industry.


In our first blog of the Sermon on the Mount series, we’ll unpack the introduction of the sermon and the Beatitudes, which come from Matthew 5:1-12.


Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

At Uncommon Sports Group, we believe firmly that all of the Bible is breathed out by God and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, it is necessary to understand and apply every aspect of God’s Word, even the introductions to passages, such as we see in Matthew 5:1-2. The disciple Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes in Matthew 5:1-2, “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.”


In verse one, we see that Jesus saw the crowds and responded by sitting down. It is important to note that in this cultural context, teachers would be seated, and hearers would stand. In choosing to sit down upon seeing the crowds, Jesus was making a conscious decision to begin teaching the crowds around Him. Secondly, we see that Jesus taught directly to the disciples while the crowds listened from the outside. This is an important aspect of the sermon because Jesus’ disciples would use Jesus’ teachings in this sermon throughout their ministry and at the beginning of the early church.


The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are a well-known portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The title, The Beatitudes, means the blessings. In these teachings, Jesus shares character traits that make up His followers. These blessings are the nature and aspirations of citizens of heaven. No Christian will master these traits, but they should be evident in the lives of any follower of Christ.


Poor in Spirit

In the first blessing found in Matthew 5:3, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The initial thought for many readers of this passage is that Jesus desires His followers to be poor financially. However, it is important to note that the poverty Jesus is talking about here is not financial poverty but spiritual poverty.


This beatitude comes first because this is where we start with God. Charles Spurgeon, a well-known preacher from the 19th century, said, “Not what I have, but what I have not, is the first point of contact, between my soul and God. Jesus, being our Maker, knows that we cannot provide anything to Him spiritually. Note that Jesus did not say blessed are those who are Holy, pure, and wonderful. Rather, He said that those who are blessed are poor in spirit and can bring nothing to the table of God besides a broken heart and a sinful life.


Lastly, Jesus states that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are poor in spirit. Our minds think that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to righteous people. But it is clear in Scripture that none are righteous, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who recognize their brokenness and run to God for healing and restoration from sin.


Those Who Mourn

In the second blessing found in Matthew 5:4, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” The Greek word for mourning found in this verse is the most intense version of mourning found in the Greek language. It is not a mourning that one would experience after a bad shot on the golf course, but rather a mourning that one would experience when a loved one passes away. It is a blessing to mourn because those who mourn over their sinful and fallen state are those who desire to be restored from that fallen state and forgiven of their sin. For those that do not mourn, there isn’t a desire to be cured of the fallen state that we are in. Paul describes this further in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”


Those who mourn are blessed because Jesus states that they will be comforted. God allows this mourning over sin into our lives as a path, not a destination. Our recognition of our fallen state and our hatred for our sin is the catalyst that draws us to God because we know we need His grace and mercy. Jesus’ suffering on the cross just a few years after this sermon would provide those who mourn with the freedom and fellowship with God that they seek, providing comfort to all who believe in Christ's death and resurrection (Romans 10:9-10).


The Meek

In the third blessing found in Matthew 5:5, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” It is challenging for us to understand the meaning of the word meek because it is not a word that we commonly use in our contemporary conversations. A meek person submits to the proper authority and disregards one’s rights and privileges. In the Christian context, a meek person submits and conforms to God’s Word and will, as well as being gentle, humble, patient, and longsuffering with people around them.


In our American culture, a meek person might be viewed as a pushover. However, those who are meek are those who trust that God watches over His people and will protect their cause. Jesus’ promise that the meek will inherit the earth is a reminder that He will not allow His people to be pushed over but rather will be the One who will overcome the earth for them (John 16:33).


It is also important to note that the three qualities Jesus has mentioned thus far in the blessings are not found in the natural man but are only found once a fallen man has been changed by the Holy Spirit and salvation through Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). Jesus is teaching that the person who is blessed is the person who relies on Him for salvation from sin and death and a renewed heart.


Those Who Hunger & Thirst

In the fourth blessing found in Matthew 5:6, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” As humans, we hunger for many things including food, comfort, finances, spouses, happiness, etc. But how often do we hunger for righteousness?


A hunger and thirst for righteousness are expressed through a desire for a righteous nature, a desire to be sanctified into the character and nature of God, a desire to continue a life that represents God’s righteousness, and a desire to see righteousness promoted in the world. Jesus calls this kind of person blessed because they desire something that only He can give them, which is why He says that this kind of person will be filled or satisfied. This filling not only satisfies the person who desires righteousness but also gives them a desire for more.


The Merciful

In the fifth blessing found in Matthew 5:7, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” The most important question to answer in this passage is what it means to be merciful. A person who is merciful will show mercy to the weaker and poorer individual. The one who is merciful will be aware of those who weep and mourn. The one who is merciful will show forgiveness to others and seek to restore broken relationships. The one who is merciful will choose to think the best of people whenever possible. The one who is merciful will show compassion to those who are outwardly sinful. Lastly, the one who is merciful will care for the souls of all men.


If we desire to receive mercy from God, then it is expected that we will be merciful toward others. This is what Jesus describes in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-38) when the servant who receives mercy for his debts does not show mercy to his debtors. For those who have received mercy, they will reflect the mercy they have been given, and that is exactly the blessing that Jesus is describing in this verse. As Christians, we know that we need God’s mercy and that it is a calling over our lives to be merciful to others.


The Pure in Heart

In the sixth blessing found in Matthew 5:8, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” In ancient Greek, the definition of a pure heart is straightness, honesty, and clarity. This description of a pure heart that Jesus uses here can have two meanings. The first is one who has inner moral purity, and the second is one who has an undivided heart that is solely devoted to God.


The blessing that comes with a pure heart is the ability to see God. Those who are blinded by sin (2 Corinthians 4:4) cannot see God. The pure-hearted person can see God in nature, in Scripture, and in their church family. The motivation for our pure living is not to earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9) but rather to increase our intimacy with God.


The Peacemakers

In the seventh blessing found in Matthew 5:9, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” In this description of being a peacemaker, Jesus is not necessarily talking about worldly peace, but rather those who are on a mission to bring about peace between God and man through the message of the gospel. This is known as the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), in which God desires to reconcile the world to Himself in Christ.


The reward of being a peacemaker is being recognized as a child of the living God, as Jesus describes in this verse. As God’s children, we share His passion for the reconciliation of lost sinners (Luke 19:10) and the breaking down of walls between man and God.


Those Who Are Persecuted

The final two blessings are found in Matthew 5:10-12 where Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


As a Christian who is in pursuit of Christ and the righteousness He calls us to live out, suffering is imminent. Paul writes clearly in 2 Timothy 3:12, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus reminds us here that while we may suffer persecution in our pursuit of Him and righteousness, the reward, in the end, is the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 7:16-17). Those around us may hurl insults or false accusations at us, but as Jesus notes in verse 12, this was the treatment of God’s people who have come before us.


Conclusion

In reading these beatitudes from Jesus, it can often remind us of how far we fall short of God’s standard. No one is always poor in spirit, mourning, meek, thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, making peace, or being persecuted. But, as followers of Christ, His Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to live out these attributes and blessings that our Lord calls us to live out (John 14:15-17). Be encouraged today that in Christ we are blessed, and He reminds us in these verses that living a blessed life in Christ is very different from what the world would define as blessed. As you journey through the sport industry, remember what the true meaning of blessed is and seek to exemplify that in your life and career.

 

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