The Kingdom perspective: Devotional Commentary for September 6-12
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
1When Jesus saw the crowd, he went up a mountain and sat down. His disciples came to him,
2and he began to teach them:
This week's devotional meditation draws our attentions to the opening verses of Jesus' longest and most direct teaching known as: The Sermon On The Mount. Matthew tells us that Jesus finally left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum, a small seaside town in Galilee in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, to begin His public ministry of teaching and healing. Once in Capernaum, Jesus' public ministry took a definite shape as He taught the people in the synagogues, healed the sick, and admonished the people to repent of their sins.
On this particular occasion, Jesus observed a large crowd gathering around Him. He went up to the summit of a small mountain in the area with His Disciples and began to teach. Jesus had already began His public ministry by calling the people to repentance and by declaring that God's Kingdom is at hand. Everything Jesus taught is primarily predicated on repentance. Apart from repentance, the practical significance of the rest of the teachings would have been somewhat indistinct to the people. So Jesus began to teach the crowd this way:
5:3 "Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The Kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
The conventional theological consensus suggests that "blessed" means happy. However, Jesus is not speaking of some superficial human emotion of excitement or basic cheerfulness. Rather, Jesus is speaking of that divinely bestowed sense of well-being which imbues the hearts of Christ's disciples with the Joy of the Lord, His Righteousness, and Holiness. He is speaking of a spiritual state of purity in which the heart is cleansed from earthly perspectives. Therefore, the Blessed are those whose spirit is purified and cleansed, those basking in God's Favor.
When our perspectives are purged from earthly outlook, we do indeed recognize that, without Christ, we are spiritually poor and helpless. Once we recognize our spiritual poverty, our Spirit-influenced inclination would be to remedy our spiritual privation Through Christ's riches. Therefore, we shall first seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness with a transformed outlook. Indeed, we are blessed because the void in our souls shall be filled by the presence of God's Kingdom in our hearts.
And Jesus continued:
5:4 Blessed are those who mourn. They will be comforted.
Man's vain philosophies despise those who mourn. Such demeanor is considered weakness, reflecting one's inability to overcome the trials in one's experience. However, Jesus corrected such erroneous thinking by teaching us that those who mourn are actually better and stronger because, in mourning, we recognize our shortcomings.
We realize our inability to change our propensity for sin, anger, and rebellion, on our own. Our mournings drive us to lean on God's grace and mercy. Therefore, when we grieve over the hopeless conditions of our lives, we find comfort in God's forgiveness. He will wipe away our grief and replaces it with peace and joy. We mourn because we are the Blessed of God in Christ. To mourn is to repent.
And Jesus continued:
5:5 Blessed are those who are gentle. They will inherit the earth.
The world's culture teaches that there is power in war and domination. That is the only way to exert one's superiority over one's fellow creatures. When a person is beaten down by adversity, the natural reaction is to be angry and strike out in a vain effort to correct the offense. However, Jesus teaches us that the citizen of the Kingdom of heaven would respond to such circumstances with a gentle heart and a mild attitude, confident in God's faithfulness to protect and preserve. In God's Kingdom, those who are gentle or mild in heart, will inherit God's bounty. Gentleness of the heart is the demeanor of the Blessed in Christ. The gentle does not react to anything but responds to everything with godly maturity.
And Jesus Continued:
5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God's approval. They will be satisfied.
Those who belong to God hunger and thirst for God's Grace and Mercy. The Blessed of God always long for the Father's touch. God's children yearn for His approval, for His Grace and Mercy. There is a deep-seated hunger and thirst for Christ's Righteousness and His Kingdom in the heart of the redeemed. Such longing cannot be satisfied except by God's warm embrace of His lovingkindness and unfailing Grace. Those who hunger for Righteousness and thirst for God's love will be satisfied because our Father will not forsake His own. In Christ alone are the blessed of God satisfied in all things. He is the Bread of life. He is the Living Water.
And Jesus continued:
5:7 Blessed are those who show mercy. They will be treated mercifully.
God's children ought to be merciful even as we have received Mercy from God. As citizens of the heavenly Kingdom, we receive Mercy from the King. Simply put, our life is secure in the Mercy of our Redeemer. As we are blessed in the Mercies of God, so must we show mercy to those around us. When one is at peace with the Father, one ought to be also at peace with others, walking in the Light of the King's Mercy. Because we are blessed and have received Mercy, we show mercy in our dealings with others.
And Jesus continued:
5:8 Blessed are those whose thoughts are pure. They will see God.
As noted earlier, our blessedness is in the spiritual cleansing by which our hearts, souls, and thoughts are purified. When our perspectives are set free from the defiling influences of earthly outlook, we would see God. Cleansed heart would lead to pure vision. Pure thoughts give us clear vision. Pure thoughts give us real focus. Pure thoughts help us appreciate God.
The opening passage of the Sermon On The Mount is often identified as the "beatitudes" because the text speaks of the attitudes which should be reflected in the lives of the Blessed, as the life-changing Word of God steadily becomes alive in our hearts. The repetition of the word "blessed" underscores the steady nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God's children, cultivating in us the Person and the Character of Jesus Christ. To Christians, Jesus' words offer comfort and encouragement in spite of the trying circumstances in this world.
In these same verses, Jesus describes the attitudes which define the spiritual maturity that should characterize those who believe in Him. In doing so, Jesus openly declares the Godly standards which form and nurture the conduct of His followers within the framework of our new life in Him. In other words, our blessedness does not flow from the attitudes listed in the passage. Instead, the resident Holy Spirit generates the godly attitudes from within, reflecting the sacred divine goodness we have received in Christ. Therefore, we have godly attitudes because we are the Blessed of God in Christ.
Because we are the Blessed of God in Christ, we are endowed with the wisdom to realize and acknowledge that, without Christ, we are spiritually poor and helpless. We come to our gracious Father to receive His Kingdom into our hearts. Because we are the Blessed of God in Christ, we are mournful over our disobedience and ungodliness. We know we are forgiven and shall be comforted. We are confident in Him Who saved us. Because we are the Blessed of God in Christ, we leave room for God's Will in our lives and all the circumstances around us. Because we are confident in Him, we are gentle at heart and mild in our demeanor. We know He protects us and preserves us. We shall inherit the riches of our Father. He owns the cattle over a thousand hills. Because we are the Blessed of God in Christ, our hunger and thirst for God's Grace shall be satisfied in His Son in Whom we have rest.
Because we are the Blessed of God in Christ, we are merciful toward others even as we have received God's Mercy. Because we are the Blessed of God in Christ, we shall see God in spirit and in truth. Our thoughts, minds, souls, and hearts are cleansed by the precious Blood of our Redeemer making us fit to stand before God in His Grace. Such is the case with God's redeemed children, because God's Blessed are called to be good and godly, and to do godly things.