Author: Ron Graham

Sermon on Mount

The Beatitudes (1)
—Matthew 5

The Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew chapter 5, six, and seven. Jesus gave this sermon during his main Galilean ministry. In Luke we find a record of some of the other occasions on which Jesus taught the same things. As we study the sermon on the mountainside in Matthew, we will match the verses in Matthew with the similar passages in Luke.

1 What's a “Beatitude”?

Matthew 5:1-12 The term "beatitude" (pronounced bee-attitude and from the Latin “beatus” blessed) means a state of great blessedness, or a saying that expresses that state. Blessedness is more than happiness, since the “hap” in happiness means chance (from a Norse word “happ” meaning good luck). There is no element of chance or haphazardness in the blessings and “happiness” that comes from God. These beatitudes lay down certain conditions in which God will give us his blessing and peace —an abiding joy not subject to the changing fortunes of this world. Blessedness is bestowed by God intentionally and purposefully, and it is sought from God in the same manner. We must SEEK blessedness. It won't just “happen”.

2 The Poor in Spirit

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).

By "poor in spirit" Jesus does not mean "lacking spirituality". So, what does he mean? First, think about attitude toward money. If you desire to be rich with mammon and earthly possessions, that desire can lead to all kinds of spiritual problems. If you love and trust God rather than worldly wealth, and if you would gladly forfeit all earthly wealth for God, then you are "poor in spirit" because you don't wish to be rich —although of course you have the treasures of heaven.

Another meaning for "poor in spirit" is contrition, humility, and repentance. God loves, receives, and blesses the humbled and contrite soul. "A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise" (Psalms 51:17). The words of A.M.Toplady, in Rock of Ages, express this poverty of spirit: "Naked come to Thee for dress, helpless look to Thee for grace..." Spiritually bankrupt, we ask God for rescue. A similar meaning, "Godly sorrow [that] produces repentance" (2Corinthians 7:10), is also possible in the next beatitude.

3 Those Who Mourn

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).

There are many things that may give the righteous cause for grief and mourning. Jesus himself was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). One might go further and say that without some grief and trouble we cannot know deep joy. Through enduring trouble and heartaches we learn peace and come closer to God. "Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom" (Acts 14:22). "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:2-3).

4 Outline of Matthew 5

First part of the Sermon on the Mount
Theme Matthew Luke
The Beatitudes 5:1-12 6:20-26
Salt of the Earth 5:13 14:34-35
Light of the world 5:14-16 8:16
The Law of Moses 5:17-20 16:17
Anger 5:21-26 12:58-59
Lust 5:27-30  
Marriage 5:31-32 16:18
Oaths 5:33-37  
Retaliation 5:38-42 6:29-30
Love 5:43-48 6:27-35

5 Deep Thought

Deep Thought

These questions are for you to think about and discuss. Other parts of this lesson may help you with the answers.

1. What does it mean to be "poor in spirit"?

2. What does it mean to be "blessed"?

3. Does the promise of comfort mean that the cause of sorrow is removed?

Stretch Your Mind

Some sayings of Jesus stretch your mind to find meaning. Such sayings are not arcane. Anyone can understand them if they try, and if they think hard about them. However, occasionally Jesus makes you reach in to his sayings for their message. And sometimes more than one meaning can be drawn out of a saying. For example, there seems to be more than one valid way in which to take the phrase, "poor in spirit".