Church of Christ
at
Locks Cross Roads
2) Matthew 5 - Introduction and first beatitudes
True fellowship of God is enjoyed on the basis of faith in His mercy, not on the basis of the perfection, or the extent
to which one might attain by keeping law.

Real righteousness amounts to admitting that we do not possess it.  If we are to be really righteous, we must admit
God's righteous sentence against our sins and admit that our guilt deserves His condemnation.  Further, we must
recognize that our self-righteousness has kept us from doing his will.  (1 John 1:5-10, 1 John 2:1-2, 1 John 3:1-10)

Our faith is not so important in what it can do for God at this point as in what it is willing to receive from God.

THE CHARACTER AND BLESSINGS OF THE WISE AND GODLY MAN ( Parallel: Luke 6:20-26)
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the sons of God.
Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for
my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were
before you.

Why do you suppose Jesus began this sermon this way?
Why does Jesus describe this type of character as "blessed"?
Is there any difference between the "Wise and Godly Man" and the heathens who share some of these qualities?

5:3 Blessed.  The word (makarios) denotes: "happy, blessed, fortunate" and connotes: "well off, thriving,
prosperous, in good condition."  Sometimes the word describes a pleasant state of feeling, on the part of the person
thus described.  But it will be seen that Jesus is talking about happiness from His ideal point of view.  The conditions
that Jesus represents as "blessed" are those which His listeners had always considered as "curses".
These "blesseds" are another of Jesus' attempts to get man's eye off the age that blinds him to the more concrete
realities of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus wastes no time by contradicting all points of man's basic philosophy, or
world-view, He lays down the challenge, "Whose world is real?"

By flatly contradicting the common world-view, Jesus is announcing: "Only My world is real.  That human world-view
is mistaken which declares as happy the rich, the oppressors, the proud, the arrogant, the self-centered, the fully
satisfied!"  How beautifully James (James 3:13-18) makes this point.

Jesus' message draws black-and-white contrasts between the true nature of the expected Kingdom and true
righteousness, and the popular expectations and views arising out of the Mosaic system and the Pharisaic
philosophy.
Both Matthew and Luke emphasize this extreme destitution by not using the usual word for a poor man (penes or
penichros) who is so poor that he must struggle to exist on his scanty daily wage.  Instead they use a word (ptochos)
which may mean simply "poor," but commonly signifies "dependent upon others for support." It speaks of one deeply
conscious of his need.

This opening salvo fired by Jesus at one of the most popular expectations of the Jews, that in the messianic
kingdom all would be wealthy, must have dumbfounded the audience.

The highborn, the wealthy, the privileged are not necessarily the favorites of God.  Nor do they have first rights to
the kingdom before others.  Too often they are oppressors, exploiters, worshippers of mammon, proud, idle, vain,
self-indulgent, self-centered, cruel and callous. (Note James 2:1-7, James 5:1-6)  To those of this character God's
Kingdom is closed!
Jesus said "Blessed are the poor in spirit."  The man who is really well-off in Jesus' estimation is he who knows that
he is spiritually bankrupt.  He has plumbed the depths of his heart and found nothing there that had any real value.  
This man has reached his own point of despair:  he has realized his own utter helplessness; only he can be helped
who knows that things are incapable of bringing him happiness and security.

Jesus is trying to GIVE away the Kingdom to those who want it on His terms (Matthew 5:10, 20).  But His terms
demand that all comers admit their deep spiritual poverty and their need of His wealth (Luke 12:32-34).

5:4 Blessed are they that mourn.  The two keys which open this blessing to our understanding are the recognition of
the true origin of sorrow and the recognition of the true source of the blessing.  Sin causes all grief, by one means
or another, among both disciples and non-disciples alike.  That is mourning caused by the recongnition of sin in
one's self or by the shock of what it does to God and one's fellows.
They shall be comforted!  This was Jesus' business (Isaiah 61:1-2).  Comforted does not mean that the sorrowing
shall be anesthetized to the point that they will not feel their suffering or pain.  It means that they will be
strengthened, braced up, encouraged or cheered up to face the situation worthily as a disciple of the Lord.  "Woe to
you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep!" (Luke 6:25)
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