“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” —Isaiah 66:2
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:3-12
The Beatitudes are like climbing a spiritual staircase. We begin with humility, recognizing our need for salvation; move to sorrow for our sin; mature to gentleness in the Spirit; crave the Word and Spirit of God more and more; grow in mercy toward those around us; become increasingly pure through our commitment to Him; walk in peace personally and with those around us; and end with sacrificial suffering for the Kingdom of God. The blessings referred to in the Beatitudes begin at the moment someone accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Still, they don’t end there. What God has in store for us is beyond our comprehension, and the blessings we enter into now are a glimpse of what’s ahead.
The Beatitudes begin by addressing the problem of pride. The prideful person who believes he needs nothing cannot see that he, in fact, needs everything. This is exactly why Jesus begins with the subject of pride. How can someone receive salvation for sin, accept forgiveness through Christ’s blood, and receive the blessings of God, if he doesn’t know he needs anything. Pride is the first wall of sin which must be broken down. If a man or woman won’t yield to Christ, then there will be no salvation. That this passage refers to our complete helplessness apart from Christ is clear. When we become “poor in spirit” through Christ, our reward is the Kingdom of God—or eternal life (Matthew 5:3).
After making a statement about pride, Jesus moves on to mourning. Not only must we allow Christ to shatter our pride, we must mourn over our past sin and sinful state. To not recognize the miserable state we were in before salvation is to miss the full extent of Christ’s salvation. And what is the reward for those who mourn? God’s Spirit comforts us, bearing witness that we have been forgiven.
- What is a “Beatitude?”
Note: “Beatitude” comes from the Greek word makarioi, which means “fully satisfied.” The satisfaction of salvation is due to life in Christ, not our earthly circumstances, which means makarioi should not be translated “happy.”
- Should the Beatitudes be seen as the progression of Christian maturity? Notice the progression of growth in 2 Peter 1:5-8 and Romans 5:2-5.
- Contrast the Beatitudes with the eight woes of Matthew 23.
Kingdom opened (Matthew 5:3)—Kingdom closed (Matthew 23:13)
Comfort for mourners (Matthew 5:4)—Mourners distressed (Matthew 23:14)
Meek inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)—Fanatics compassing the earth (Matthew 23:15)
True righteousness (Matthew 5:6)—False righteousness (Matthew 23:16-22)
Merciful obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7)—Mercy left undone (Matthew 23:23-24)
Purity within (Matthew 5:8)—Uncleanness within (Matthew 23:25-26)
Peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)—Hypocrites and lawless (Matthew 23:27-28)
Persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12)—Persecutors (Matthew 23:29-33)
Contrasts from the Companion Bible by E.W. Bullinger.
- Why should humility, or “poor in spirit,” be considered the first step in repentance? Proverbs 9:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Revelation 3:15-19.
- The humble are promised the Kingdom of Heaven. Is this another way of expressing that repentant sinners have been given the promise of eternal life? Could it be the promise of John 3:16 in different terminology? Isaiah 57:15; Ezekiel 18:21; James 2:5; Proverbs 22:4.
- How does the “mourning” of Matthew 5:4 represent the sorrow one has over violating God’s law? 2 Kings 22:9; Ezra 10:1-4; Acts 2:37.
- What promises of comfort does the Lord make to those who are broken-hearted over sin? Psalm 30:5; 34:18; Isaiah 12:1; 55:7; 2 Chronicles 7:14. Why is comfort available only in confession? Psalm 32:1-5.
This week, write down ways in which you have been prideful towards God and others. Establish a plan of daily commitment which forsakes any pride you may struggle with. After prayer, study, and fasting, confess your sin of pride to God, your family, and. friends. Inform them of your daily plan and ask them to hold you accountable to faithfully continue it