“Blessedness” – Matthew 5:1–10

February 27, 2022

“Blessedness” – Matthew 5:1–10

Passage: Matthew 5:1-10
Service Type:

Hear now, the word of the Lord from Matthew 5:1-10,

5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:1-10, ESV

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God endures forever. One of my favorite books as a child was the book by Wilson Rawls, "Where the Red Fern Grows". I read it many times growing up. It's the story of a little boy named Billy, who grows up in the Ozarks and wants to become a raccoon hunter. So to be a raccoon hunter, he means raccoon hunting dogs, red bone hounds to be specific. He doesn't have money for them. So at the beginning, he scrimped and saves and does extra odd jobs to try to save up enough money to order these dogs. Finally, he has enough money. Finally, the day comes when these dogs arrive. He falls in love with them, and names them Old Dan and Little Anne.

Then he faces a dilemma, how does he train dogs to hunt raccoons when he has no raccoon skin or fur, or whatever you would call it, to train them with? How do they follow the scent of a raccoon if he doesn't have anything to train them with to teach them to follow the scent of a raccoon? Well he asks for advice and someone tells him, OK, here's what you need to do. You need to bore a hole in a log big enough for a raccoon to get his paw in there. Put inside that hole, a very bright, shiny piece of metal. Then the raccoon will be able to reach in and grab it, but then that hole that you've bored has to be small enough so when the raccoon tries to pull this paw out, he can't get both his paw and the bright, shiny object out at the same time.

Billy says, well, doesn't the raccoon just have to let it go and he'll be free and live? The person who's giving him this advice says, well, yes, you'd think so. But in fact, these creatures are not very smart, and they are very determined to get their hands on and keep whatever bright, shiny objects that they find. Sure enough, the next day after setting up this trap. There was a raccoon mad as a hornet. So frustrated because he would not let go of that bright, shiny object.

Now, I may have told that story here as an illustration before, but it seems so apt to tell again as we enter the Sermon on the Mount. Because in this sermon, Jesus is teaching us about how to let go of the bright, shiny objects that we spend all of our lives pursuing. That if we would just let these things go, Jesus says we could have a life in the Kingdom of Heaven, but it's so hard. Even if we will lose our lives, and even if we will not have the life abundantly that Jesus gives us, we can be so determined to hold on to the things that we prize in this world the most.

Which is why Jesus, toward the end of this great Sermon on the Mount in chapter seven, the Sermon on the Mount runs from chapter five through chapter seven. In Matthew 7:14, Jesus says, "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few." That's a warning that all of us have to pay attention to. Why is the gate so narrow? Why is the way so hard? Why do so few people find the way to life in Jesus Christ? It's because we must give up the things that we hold most dear to follow Jesus. We must give up the things that give us comfort, that things that give us identity, the things that give us purpose in this world in order to order our lives after the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus preaches about here.

Now, as we start our series on this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins with these Beatitudes, which are rightfully famous. These are beautiful descriptions of the Kingdom of Heaven. Our big idea as we get into what Jesus is getting at is this. Blessed are the repentant who resemble God..

So three parts to our study of the Beatitudes this morning.
1. The Blessedness of the Kingdom
2. The Blessedness of Repentance
3. The Blessedness of Resemblance

The Blessedness of the Kingdom

So let's start with the blessedness of the kingdom in verses one and two, the introduction to these Beatitudes. As we orient ourselves to these Beatitudes, there are probably three introductory issues that we need to touch upon. The first issue has to do with the summary that Jesus gave us in the latter half of the previous chapter, chapter four, where we saw the beginning of Jesus ministry. That forms a summary overview, a snapshot summary of Jesus's ministry that now we are going to see an expansion upon that.

So in chapter four, verse 17, we saw a snapshot summary of Jesus's public preaching, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." That's a snapshot summary of Jesus preaching, and now we're going to see that snapshot expanded into a full sermon. This is a Sermon on the Mount over chapters five through seven.

In the same way, we see a snapshot summary overview of Jesus's healings. In verse 24, for example, we read about how people from all over the area brought all the sick, those oppressed by various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures and paralytics and he healed them. The snapshot overview summary.

Well, right after we finish our expansion of the preaching of Jesus in chapters five through seven. Then chapters eight and nine will give us an expanded form of the healings where we're going to read individual narratives stacked right one on top of another about the individual people whom Jesus heals in all of these ways. We see this snapshot and now we see the expansion. That's going to be very important as we understand what precisely Jesus is getting at in these Beatitudes. That's the first introductory issue.

The second introductory issue has to do with the distinction that Jesus again introduced in the previous chapter, but now it's going to start to take a little bit more shape the distinction between the crowds on the one hand and Jesus's disciples on the other hand. We saw Jesus call his disciples in verses 18 to 22 of chapter four. Jesus called Simon Peter and Andrew, and then James and John to follow him as his disciples.

Then, in Matthew 4:25, we saw how great crowds ended up following him from Galilee and the Decapolis and from Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. Well, right away in the very next verse, Matthew 5:1, we read that, "Seeing the crowds the Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him." Jesus withdraws from the crowds as a whole and departs up to the mountain, where he sits down to teach and his disciples come to him.

Jesus is leaving behind the crowds for now to give intentional focus teaching to his disciples for the moment. However, don't make a mistake here, the crowds will follow. By the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the very last verse, if this is the first verse where we read the distinction where Jesus leaves the crowds to go to the disciples, by the last verse of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:48, we will read, "The crowds were astonished at his teaching, because he taught as one who held authority and not as the scribe." So Jesus begins to teach the disciples, but the crowds that gather to listen in on this teaching. That's the second introductory issue.

The third introductory issue has to do with the Old Testament background of what's happening here. We must read this in the light of the Old Testament. Matthew gives us a key principle that we can't afford to miss, although we might read over it if we're not careful. It's in verse one, "Seeing the crowds he went up on the mountain." There's a reason this is called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus is teaching on a mountain.

This isn't just to sort of help us to geographically locate where Jesus is when this happens. This is given to remind us of another great prophet of God who spoke and taught God's people from a mountain. Jesus here is presented by Matthew as a new Moses. Just as Moses went up Mount Sinai to gain the law of God to give the instruction and teaching of God to God's people. So here, Jesus teaches his people on the mountain.

Now we are going to see that Jesus doesn't say away with the law of the Old Testament, I'm going to give you something brand new. Instead, he says, I've not come to abolish the law. I have come to fulfill it, every bit of it. When we see Jesus here, he is not like Moses, who is simply a servant in the household of God, simply relaying the word to God's people. Jesus comes to give an authoritative interpretation to what God requires of us as his people. That's the Old Testament background we are seeing here Jesus as the new Moses teaching and instructing his people.

So in verse two, we read, "and he opened his mouth and taught them saying". Now three times we read about Jesus's speaking or speaking, his speech acts that he opened his mouth and he taught them, and he was saying, that's redundant. It's repeated over and over again. You don't need to say it that many ways. What Matthew is doing here and Matthew is not a person who wastes words, he's doing this to get at the solemnity and the seriousness and the significance of what we are about to hear. This is the authoritative teaching on the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven. The wise way of living in God's kingdom.

Now, very often, people study the final words of important people. For example, if you've ever sat with a loved one on their deathbed, the very last words you hear your loved ones speak will be words that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Those are the last things you hear from someone you loved very much. Or sometimes you will hear they will give an announcement to hear the final lecture of a professor who's taught in a particular area for a long time, or the final sermon of a pastor who's retiring from a long ministry in a certain place. We often focus on the end, the last word, the final word that someone gives.

There are sometimes places where we focus on the first word and especially when we have access to the first word. Sometimes we don't know later that someone is going to be important, so no one thought to capture the first words of someone in their ministry or their work or whatever. When we do know something about someone's first words, we see the way that those first words sometimes set the tone for everything that's going to happen.

So, for example, some of you when we were doing the Building on a Firm Foundation campaign, some of you reminded me that you were reminded of the first sermon that was preached by Harvest when we moved into this building nearly 20 years ago. It was by my predecessor, Pastor Alan Mallory, and the sermon text that day was Isaiah 54:2, "Enlarge the Place of your Tent." The idea was that, you know, we started as a church twenty-five years ago, over twenty-five years ago now, as just a small group of people. God enlarge the tents and Harvest was able to eventually move into a smaller building, where there was great and fruitful ministry there. Then God had large the places of our tents, and he was able to bring us into a new and larger facility. Pastor Mallory preached, you know, our work isn't done. We didn't come here to settle and to finish what we were doing, but to continue on, to continue bearing witness to Jesus Christ. That set the tone for harvest over these next twenty years nearly.

Well here what Jesus is doing is to set the tone. To set the tone for his preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God. This is going to set the tone for all of Jesus's ministry. So before we enter into these beatitudes, it's worth making three structural observations about what Jesus does in this first section, these Beatitudes. The first is that notice how Jesus structures this, "Blessed are those who", that's the criteria. Then there's a promise the blessedness of a certain class of people and then the promise of why these people are in fact blessed.

Now this is picking up on Old Testament language, especially the language, of the Psalms. If you think about the very first words of the Psalms, what sets the tone for the rest of the Psalter? Psalm 1:1, this is how Psalms began, "Blessed is the man who walks not and the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his law, he meditates day and night." That sets the tone for the rest of the Psalter.

This blessedness, commentator R.T. France says, is a commendation or a congratulations for a good situation. However, as we're going to see, these are not always externally recognized good situations. You wouldn't necessarily by outward appearances, look at these people and say those people are blessed. But that's why we need not just the criteria, not just the blessed of these people, it's not obvious. Then Jesus has to give us the gospel promise, the word of why such a situation is so blessed. That's the first issue. The structure blessed are those, that's the criteria. Then the gospel promise that is attached to it.

The second is that we should notice that Jesus isn't just listing things off the top of his head, and he gets to eight of them and finishes. There's a very clear structure to what Jesus is doing, and you can see the structure in two ways. The first way is you can see that the Beatitudes begin and end on the same point. The gospel promise in the very first Beatitude in verse three and the very last beatitude in verse eight are the same, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. These are connected. These are not meant to be like you have three of them, maybe I have two of them, and someone else has seven of them. All Christians are supposed to have all of these promises, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out in his excellent commentary on the Sermon on the Mount.

What's happening here is that there is also a very clear structure. These come full circle. And in this full circle, the third and final aspect of what we're going to look at in structural observations has to do with the two very clear sections here. The first four Beatitudes deal with our blessedness in relation to God. That's characterized by repentance, as we're going to see. The last four deal with our blessedness in relation to others, in our interactions with other people in the Kingdom of Heaven. That blessedness is going to be marked by the resemblance that we bear toward God. So we see blessedness in a repentance toward God and the blessedness of our resemblance of God in our relationships with others.

The Blessedness of Repentance

So with those three initial structural observations in mind, let's go into the second section of our sermon verses three to six where we look at the blessedness of our relationship to God in the Kingdom of Heaven, the blessedness of repentance. So Jesus begins in verse three, opening his mouth teaching, saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven". This beatitude identifies who will receive the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus says it's not who you think it would be. It's sung by those who have much to offer and perhaps can purchase the kingdom, no blessed are those who cannot purchase the kingdom. Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. They are characterized not by their riches and by their plenty, but by their poverty. Blessed are the poor in spirit who have nothing to offer.

Now, why would that be blessed? Externally by all outward appearances, that doesn't appear to be blessed. Yet, this is where it's so important to remember what Jesus has already said. That snapshot summary we saw of Jesus's teaching ministry back in 4:17, we saw the snapshot summary of Jesus's teaching ministry where we saw, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." The poor in spirit are those who look at their spiritual condition, and they recognize poverty in their spiritual condition. That they don't have anything to offer to God, anything to give to God, anything that they might barter with God or prove to God. See, I'm actually on my way, let me into your kingdom.

These are people who recognize that they have nothing to offer, nothing to give nothing to their name that stands to their credit. They can only look to God and plead for his grace and mercy. And Jesus says blessed are such people. Blessed are such people, because that's the mindset, that's the heart. That's the characteristic of the one for whom is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now Jesus fills this out in the next beatitude. "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." This beatitude identifies how we will receive the Kingdom of Heaven. First, who will receive the Kingdom of Heaven, and second how we receive the Kingdom of Heaven. It's through a posture of mourning. Now, mourning certainly comes and goes and normal common life as we interact with death, as we interact with very difficult things in our life. We mourn for a variety of circumstances.

Again, we saw that snapshot summary and now we're seeing the expansion of the teaching. Jesus is talking about a heart that is characterized by spiritual mourning and repentance for our sins. We've talked about the fact that repentance is a change of mind. I think differently about my sin, but it's not just a token appreciation of something different. Oh yeah, I guess I think differently about that now. It's a change of mind that stems from a change of heart. It is not just to judge that I am guilty where I previously thought I was just fine. It is to hate the filthiness and odious ness of my sin in the sight of God. To recognize some of the damage that I have inflicted by the ramifications of my sin. It is to turn in a horror from my sin, once again looking to God, I have nothing, I'm poor spiritually and to look for God for grace. This is characterized by a lifetime of mourning repentance over our sin.

On October 30, first in the year, 1517, which is widely regarded as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, a monk named Martin Luther hammered to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, ninety-five theses. Things he wanted to identify and talk with the Roman Catholic Church about that spurred on the Protestant Reformation, where the church was called back to biblical preaching and teaching.

The very first of those theses, and again, this is what set the terms and set the tone of the entire Protestant Reformation was this. He's talking about something that's very close to what we're looking at this morning. He said when our Lord and master Jesus Christ said repent and there, he cites Matthew 4:17, that snapshot summary of Jesus’s preaching. When our Lord and Master Jesus said repent, what did he mean by that? He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. "Blessed are those who mourn for they should be comforted." Not by external physical comforts, but by the gospel of Jesus Christ that comforts us in the poverty of our spirits, in our sin and lawlessness. He comforts us by the gospel that saves us.

Third, Jesus says, "Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the Earth." If we saw who will receive the kingdom and how we receive the kingdom. This beatitude gets at how we will not receive the kingdom. It's the meek who inherit the kingdom, not the aggressive who grasp and take for themselves whatever they want. It's the meek who are dependent upon God to give them what we need and the right time. The meek, not those who are weak, but those who have strength that they declined to use and exercise to enrich themselves.

That was the confession of sin. What would we be willing to do to get ahead? That's the opposite of the mindset of meekness. The meek, though, who will inherit the Earth, we will not receive the Kingdom of Heaven by grasping and taking for ourselves.

The fourth beatitude is, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied." This beatitude teaches us how then we should live in the Kingdom of Heaven in relationship to God. We must hunger and thirst after righteousness, but what does that mean? Well, Jesus is unfolding something that we see explained maybe in clearer ways in the rest of the Bible.

The righteousness of God that we are called to follow after has two aspects of it. One is the recognition, as we saw in the first three Beatitudes here, is that we fall so far short. We aren't rich in spirit; we are poor in spirit. We can't look with pride in our lives, we mourn. We can't be those who grasp and take what we deserve, we have to be the meek, Jesus says. Jesus has blessed those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who, first of all, realize that we don't have it. Then for that reason, look to God and look to Jesus Christ to ask to receive his righteousness that he gives by grace and through faith. Blessed are those who receive righteousness by faith and through grace from Jesus Christ himself.

It isn't only that, it's not less than that, but the Bible then says for those who have been counted, righteous, not by anything that we have done, but by what God has made us in Christ. For those who have been counted righteous, this beatitude also tells us that we need to walk in the paths of righteousness. That we need to live according to the ethic of the Kingdom of Heaven that God is calling us to in the person of his son, Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.

To summarize this whole first section, then I heard a very wise man once observed that when we get to stories, the way you can identify and distinguish the villains from the hero is that the villains never repent. Heroes repent, but villains never repent. I thought that was a very wise observation. It makes sense of a lot of different stories. You see villains and they make these terrible mistakes, but eventually they just cling and stick to their guns until they eventually go straight. That's why they're villains. The heroes may make many mistakes, even some of the same kinds of mistakes as the villains. What distinguishes them is at the end they repent, they turn from their foolishness and their sin, and they go a different direction.

Now that helps us as we read stories. That helps us to understand what's going on in a particular story, to judge one character one way and one character another way. Then I thought another step beyond that and I thought, how hard that is in my own heart and my own life. It's actually quite easy for me to tell you if you're not being repentant. It's quite a different thing for me to say, am I being repentant? Am I willing to acknowledge when I'm in the wrong? Am I willing to say this was wrong and I need to go a different direction, please forgive me. Jesus says there's no other way into the Kingdom of Heaven. We've got to let go of the shiny thing, which is our reputation and our pride and our identity and the goal of that and in repentance turn to Jesus.

The Blessedness of Resemblance

What Jesus tells us in the next part of this is that's not just something we do and then move on from. What this repentance leads to is a kind of resembles, a resemblance to God. Not necessarily physical resemblance, but a spiritual resemblance. This gets back to our big idea that blessed are the repentant who resemble God. So in this third and final section, the second section of the Beatitudes, the second half, let's look at third the blessedness of resemblance.

Jesus says in verse seven, the fifth Beatitude, the first in this series, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy." This beatitude identifies the key principle manner in which we resemble God. If we have received mercy from a merciful God, the way that that will play itself out is that we will resemble God and the mercy that we show toward others.

Listen to the promise here. So I am merciful, theoretically, because I have received mercy from God and Jesus says blessed are the merciful for, they will receive more mercy. I receive mercy from God, which makes me merciful. In light of that, as a consequence of that, as the blessedness of that, I receive more mercy. Mercy on top of mercy, grace on top of grace.

There's a corresponding warning with us as we'll read through the rest of the book of Matthew. Jesus warns us a little bit, a shot is fired across the bow. A little bit later in Matthew 6:12 when we received the Lord's Prayer, when Jesus teaches us to pray, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

Boy, what happens if we don't forgive our debtors? What if I don't want to forgive those who have sinned against me? Well, Matthew chapter 18 Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant. A servant who owed a great deal of money to his master and the master mercifully forgave his servant. Then the servant went out and tried to insist upon exacting a much smaller debt from a fellow servant. The master, when he heard this was furious and he called back this servant and he cancelled the cancellation of the debt. He reinstituted the debt and he threw the servant into prison and says, you will not get out until you pay every last penny.

Jesus turns to those listening to him and says, "So shall my Heavenly Father do to every one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." There's a warning here. There's a promise, that gospel promise, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy." But there is a corresponding warning as we'll see.

Second, we see Jesus in verse eight saying, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Now you might say, well, hold on, Jacob, I thought you said this section was about our relationship to other people. "This is blessed with the pure in heart for they shall see God." This is about our relationship to God. Well, to tease you a little bit on this, let me say, come back tonight, we have a prayer service tonight. I'm going to be preaching on this beatitude and I'll answer some of those questions, Lord willing.

To give you a taste of what Jesus is getting at here, if you look at the rest of the Bible, seeing God is the primary engine by which we come to resemble God. Those of us who see God, who are beholding the glory of Christ, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, 2 Corinthians 3:18. One day someday when Jesus comes 1 John 3:2 says that, "When we see him, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is." Seeing God is the engine of resemblance to God that other people see.

Well, then in verse nine in the third beatitude in this sequence, Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." This peacemaking is the key fruit by which others recognize our resemblance to God. Peacemakers are called the sons of God. Why are they called the Sons of God, because other people recognize the resemblance to God. God is the ultimate peacemaker.

God is the one for whom the Father sent the Son into the world to make peace with us and so that we might make peace with one another. At Jesus's birth, this was heralded by the angels, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased." God makes peace. Those who make peace in this world are recognized and called to be the sons of God.

Then finally, in verse 10, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." This beatitude identifies the world's response that confirms a resemblance to God. Because if we resemble God and the world hates God, then the world will treat us in the way that the world treats God, which is by hating us, that's the persecution. If you've grown to resemble God, then the world will treat you in the way the world treats God.

If that happens, what Jesus is saying, and this is the gospel promise, understand that is a confirmation that your life has been marked by repentance and your life has been marked by resemblance to God. For yours, Jesus says, is the Kingdom of Heaven. That's a confirmation that you possess the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, Jesus says, blessed are the repentant who resemble God.


How do we apply this? Jesus said both requirements and he's given us gospel promises. Let me skip ahead and let Jesus interpret his own sermon. Skip a little bit ahead to the end of chapter five where Jesus says, "You therefore must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." Remember, Jesus is the new Moses who is teaching a new law to his people. He's giving us true wisdom, a way for living life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Understand he is about to exposit and interpret the Ten Commandments in verses 17 and following. This where he's going. He's going to say these Ten Commandments, they still apply. In fact, if you thought they were one thing, let me tell you, they require even more than that. I say to you, Jesus says on my own authority that they mean far more than you think. They mean be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus is teaching us the law, but notice how he starts. He starts by, in every case, giving us the law blessed are such people. Then he sets right alongside the law, his gospel. For they will receive this and that and these other blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is not a formula that you try to work really hard to accomplish so that you can earn something from God. This begins with a fundamental acknowledgement of your spiritual poverty. I can't earn this. Jesus reminds you, blessed of the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted by the gospel. We are reading about people who have nothing to offer, nothing to contribute and get our blessed. Not because they match up to the law, but because of the promises of the Gospel of Jesus.

Jesus is teaching us, and again, that sets the tone for his whole ministry. He's teaching us the right way to relate to God, by his law and by his gospel. Now we see this in two ways. The first way is what theologians call the first use of the law. The law as a mirror where the law is held up to our faces. I hope, as you've been reading, you've been thinking, boy, I don't measure up to this. I'm not pure in heart. I am not always merciful. I am not that persecuted for righteousness sake, because sometimes I find it easier to fit in. I have so many bright, shiny objects in my life that I'm not ready to let go.

The first use of the law is to hold up a mirror to our lives to see just how far short we fall from the glory of God. Jesus doesn't minimize this. Matthew 5:20, Jesus says, "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Then Matthew 5:48, "You therefore must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect."

Now, as for us, we like to grade on a curve. I want to say, well, as long as I'm better than the next person over, I should be OK. I should be fine. But God grades on absolute terms. If we are not perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, then we are doomed, we are condemned. The law of Moses Thunders against us from Mount Sinai and Jesus just takes those Ten Commandments and intensifies them, that these go all the way to the depths of our souls.

You and I fall so far short of God's infinitely righteous standard. Do you despair over this? But it's in relation to this that Jesus sets his law and then gives us a gospel. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who have nothing to offer to God, nothing to barter with God. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. That's not something that you clean up your life to merit, Christ. That's an acknowledgement that you can't. You've lived your life in sin, and now you're turning from one thing to turn to Jesus Christ to embrace from him the righteousness that he offers.

It's the promises of justification. The Bible talks about justification, that declaration of God that on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ, God will not judge you on your own merits, but rather God will credit to you, impute to you is the theological term, the righteousness of Jesus. So then when he sees you, he sees his son, Jesus Christ. Do you see how far short you fall? Well then repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand? Blessed are the repentant.

Then the theologians speak about the third use of the law. The second use of the law is about a bridle restraining the wicked in the world, but Jesus again is teaching his disciples. This is how we live in the kingdom, not for those who are restrained from all the wickedness they might do in the rest of the world. So we jump from the first use of the law to what theologians call the third use of the law. That as a teacher, the law shows us how to live in this kingdom.

Jesus is calling us here to a life that resembles God. Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. We must be merciful, as God has shown us mercy. We must be pure in heart, as God is pure. We must be peacemakers, as God has made peace by the blood of the Cross of Jesus. We must so closely resemble God that the world hates us with the fury that the world hates God. Are you perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect? No, I'm not, either. That is why our entire lives must be characterized by repentance. As Martin Luther wrote in the first of his 95 theses, setting the tone for the Protestant Reformation. We repent and we repent and we repent again, and we keep seeing more layers to our sin and we keep repenting.

The gospel here is not that God simply forgives us and leaves us in the filth and misery of our sin. There's another gospel word not of justification, but in addition to that of sanctification. Whereas we repent and turn from our sins and turn to Christ, God promises that he will cause us to resemble him. This isn't something that we work for in our own strength. This is God at work, both to will and to work in us for his good pleasure.

It's the gospel of justification that we are counted righteous in Christ. Blessed are the repentant. The gospel of sanctification that God will transform us to increasingly be conformed to the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another. That's the gospel of sanctification. All of that is something that will carry us through until the day of our glorification. There's more gospel on gospel, grace and grace.

The day of our glorification is the day when Jesus Christ returns and raises our bodies from their graves and reunites our souls with glorified bodies. When that happens, we are told that everything in the kingdom that is still now not yet, promises we see in part, but are still not yet everything that remains not yet will then be made already. There's a part of the Kingdom of Heaven that is already here. Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom of God is in your midst Jesus says elsewhere. The kingdom of God is here already, and yet it is not here yet in its fullness. Until the day of our purification, our glorification when we will cease the pursuit of our purification as he is pure. When we will instead to be made like him for, we will see him as he is.

On that day, we will feast with God on the mountain of God in perfect peace. We will all be taught of God. God will be our God, and we will be his people. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, nor pain anymore. For the former things will have then passed away already. Blessed are all those who enter that kingdom by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and those for whom the Spirit of God is at work, conforming us to the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another.

Is this you? If not, if you look at the story and you see, I don't see any part I have in this yet. Jesus tells you where to begin. He says, repent, turn from your sin. It's a change of mind that stems from a change of heart to hate your sin, which flows out onto a change of life. If you don't know where to begin, turn from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ by faith.

If you don't have anything to offer him, that's perfect, because blessed of the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Turn to Jesus Christ today and be saved.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we pray that as we grapple with these beatitudes that you would give us Jesus. That you would give us eyes to see the glory of our Savior. The gospel, the light of the gospel in the face of Christ. The glory of God in the face of Jesus our lord. We pray that you would lead us to repent for the first time or the thousandth time. To acknowledge once again that we are poor in spirit and have nothing of our own to bring to the table, but are entirely dependent meekly on your grace to receive from you. Oh Lord Jesus Christ, we pray, give us the kingdom through your power. In Christ name, we pray Amen.

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