In His sermon on the mount (and on the plain), Jesus begins by teaching His disciples firstly–and any others who would take heed–the way of blessedness, the way of Godliness, the way of the Lamb of God. He does not say, “go do, or go act in such-and-such a manner in order to be blessed.” But rather, our Lord teaches by word and example that if we are such-and-such we are blessed. The beatitudes describe the spirit and character of a person, not their accomplishments or their dutiful keeping of commandments.
The poor in spirit are those who have humbled themselves and acknowledge their own helplessness; those who mourn are those who sorrow and regret over their own sinfulness–and of their own families and nations; the meek war against sin and unrighteousness for Yeshua’s sake, who died on account of our sin, and rose from the dead to set people free from the curse and judgment of sin.
Even so, is this enough–that we are on the winning side? No, so again blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness–the righteousness of God and of His Kingdom to come to earth, bringing peace and joy in the Holy Spirit throughout this creation! Brothers and sisters, Jesus is teaching that blessedness is a desire and a fruit of the New Covenant truth: the LORD must give us a new heart and a new spirit: a heart of flesh in place of stone, His Holy Spirit to make us alive to the things of God, to make true His Kingdom within us .
Mercifulness, purity of heart, peace-making are virtues which God has given to those who have hungered and thirsted after His righteousness. They are the result of God’s provision to satisfy the soul with that which Jesus alone can fulfill. These are works of righteousness by believers, which God will judge as to how we did, whether well or poorly (2Cor. 5:10; Rev.19:8). These are works of the character–of the spirit–of the Christian.
Mt. 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
As we see so much suffering and injustice in the world, we often cry out for God to judge the evil and the workers of iniquity, or those people and nations whom we consider more evil than ourselves. There is a need and a time for judgment, but our God prefers much more to show mercy (Is. 28:21)–with the hope that sinners will respond with appreciation to His longsuffering, goodness, and love. Mercy is one of our Father’s attributes, and is a fundamental characteristic of those who are His children (Mt. 5:43-48).
When He does have to judge sinful persons or nations, we are to remember our own need for His mercy and intercede for God to remember mercy in His anger (Hab. 3:2). James (Jacob) writes that there is no mercy for those who only want judgment of others, because mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
The meek will inherit the earth; blessed are the merciful because God will be merciful to them.
The mercy of the blessed believers is based upon the righteousness of God, in that Jesus died for sin and for the guilt of sinners. Mercy delivers someone from strict justice; grace brings that person into God’s presence and love to the honor of the name of Jesus. The mercy of the blessed is a quality not that they lack, but rather that they have acquired from God who satisfies their new and spiritual appetite to become like Him. As they give out God’s mercy, they will experience more of His mercy in their own lives. Those who have known God as their Helper when they were poor and hungry will do the good work of being merciful to others to our Father’s joy (Eph. 2:8-10; Mt. 5:16).
Mt. 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Do you see God in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor. 4:6)? Do you see the Father when you see Jesus?
(John 14: 7-10)? Do you see the face of God in your brother (Gen. 33:10)? Does the hope of being holy, of being like God our Father when we see Him as He is, cause you to purify yourself, just as He is pure (1John 3:2-3)? If we allow for sin in our heart, the Holy Spirit says that the Lord will not hear our prayers (Ps. 66:18)! As we mourn for the sin still so evident in ourselves, with the help of the Word of God, and faith in the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, our hearts are purified to see God. We draw near to Him, rather than hide ourselves from His presence. We see Him as we read the Bible; we see Him through the works of His creation. To the pure all things are pure (Tit. 1:15). Perfect love casts out the fear of judgment, and we long to see our Savior God face to face. Blessed are the pure in heart, for Jesus promises that they shall see God!
We are to pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14), which brings us to consider the next step of blessedness…
Mt. 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
As it is God Himself who makes peace for His people — His family — those who work for peace on the basis of the truth and righteousness and love of God will be called His children. Peace comes from obeying the will of God our Father for Jesus’ sake (Mk. 3:35). In so far as is possible and in our power to do so, we are to pursue — actively work at it — peace with all, but especially within the Body of Messiah, the household of faith. Peace is based on the righteousness and wisdom of our heavenly Father, who forgives our sins as we forgive others, thus making peace possible for Christ’s sake — the peace of God will fill our hearts. Our consciences are clear as we hear and do the word of God to pursue peace which honors Him. Blessed are those who pursue peace for the sake of Jesus, for we humble ourselves to acknowledge that the Son of God died for us while we were yet sinners to enable us to do likewise when it is in our power to do so.
Mt. 5:10-11 (Lk. 6:22-23) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom Heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Blessed are those who live in accord with the beatitudes! Blessed are you who suffer for believing in Jesus as Lord and Messiah! Blessed are you in whom the character of the Lamb of God is developed through fellowship in His sufferings, especially at the hands of members of your own family, or your brothers and sisters in the faith (Mt. 10; 2Tim. 4:16-18). Yes, and all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution, but by overcoming faith, the Lord will deliver those blessed ones (2Tim. 3:11-12). The right response of those so blessed will be to praise the LORD for being found worthy to suffer for His holy name’s sake!
The Lord says that we are to be salt and light in the world for our Father’s glory and pleasure (Mt. 5:13-16). Yet as we hear the standard of being like Messiah, the Lamb of God, do we not sense how far many of us are from being like Him, even though we are believers, God’s people? The greatest obstacle preventing us from being conformed into the likeness of the Son of God our Father is our self. Jesus is so different, so other than I am, despite my will and my heart’s desire to obey His commandments with faith in the power of His Spirit in me. God is leading us to His promised land of blessedness through the spiritual wilderness of this world to bring us to recognize the need to die to everything that is of nature, of self, of this world in order to form us into people whose very breath and hope and life is Messiah.
The blessed person is a man or woman of spiritual stature whom God can work with to accomplish His purposes for the sake and honor of His Son, Jesus Christ, the Heir of Creation.
Blessed are those whose God is YHVH.
Blessed are those in whose heart Messiah lives.