Our scripture this week is Matthew 5:1-12.
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. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 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.”
This beautiful passage, called The Beatitudes, is part of a larger scripture section known as the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5-7 Jesus lays out the basis of His ministry, with instruction on a variety of different subjects, teaching about our relationship with others and with God. It is the first time in the Gospel of Matthew that we hear directly from Jesus.
Jesus tells us that we are blessed by a variety of attitudes and actions, some of which don’t really sound much like blessings: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (verse 11). Jesus is telling us from the very beginning that the world will resist the change He brings through us and there will be repercussions. Jesus never “sugar coated” anything, He was always honest about what saying yes to Him would mean in our lives.
When I was a child I thought the title of this passage was “The Be Attitudes”, how we were supposed to be. (Editorial note: I may not have originated this term, but that’s definitely what I heard when Dr. Clark preached it!) Looking back, perhaps that isn’t such a bad interpretation. If we would be more like the examples Christ gave us in this lesson, we and the world would all be better for it.
Loving Lord, we hear Your teachings but we are slow to apply them to our lives. Make us strong in Your word that we may share the love it shows us with all the world. Amen.