1. Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then 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 filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain 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.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
What we can understand from the Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes) is that, no one will find happiness in this world or the next, who do not seek it from Christ by the rule of His Word. He has taught us the evil that we should reject and the good that we should seek and practice.
Jesus presents eight characteristics of the people who are blessed. and represents to us the principal graces of a Christian. The Greek word translated to “blessed” is one that has the general meaning of “happy” or “joyful”. It is a spiritual blessedness, a divine satisfaction that comes with a right relationship with God.
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven:
To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of ourselves; to know that we are sinners and have no righteousness of our own. To be ready and willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God and be willing to be where God places us. To have poverty of spirit means to be completely empty and open to the Word of God. When we are an empty cup and free from all pride, then we become humble. Humility brings an openness and an inner peace allowing us to do, and be in the will of God. He who humbles himself is able to accept his own frail nature, to come to repentance allowing the grace of God to lead to conversion. It is for those who have come to that point of repentance that will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Whereas, if there is pride in our lives, the exact opposite of humility happens and ultimately it brings on misery. The result of pride in our lives is anger and the seeking of revenge especially when one is offended. If every person was humble and poor in spirit, this world itself would be a different place.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted:
This mourning can be seen as a result of the realization the sins that we have committed. If we are humble and have come to repentance we begin to appreciate all of the gifts and blessings from God and we grow in love and gratitude for Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. This also produces a mourning and a regret over our own sins and the sins of this world, as well as the suffering of others. This is because of our love for God and being amazed at His goodness towards us and while we build our relationship with Him, we understand more of who He is and of His heart. When we see this world and the people of this world continue in their sin, and knowing that they will go to a lost eternity without Christ, this brings on a love and a heart like Jesus’. The Holy Spirit brings comfort along with His power and authority to reach this world for Christ.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth:
The word “meek” when translated from Greek refers to “mildness, gentleness of spirit or humility.” Meekness is humility towards God and others. It is having the right or the power to do something but refraining for the benefit of someone else. Meekness models the humility of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:6-8 says “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as man, He humbles Himself and became obedient to the point of death , even the death of the cross.”
Someone who knows Christ as their personal Savior will be growing in meekness, and those who are meek will be happy and blessed. Living in humility and being willing to fore-go your rights for the benefit of someone else models the attitude of Jesus Christ. Meekness also helps us to more effectively share the gospel message with others. Striving for power and prestige is not the path to blessedness, but meekness is.
4. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled:
God will quench the thirst of those who desire Him, as a man walking in the desert with a dry bottle and who craves water. This is not a casual thirst but a desperate thirst. To hunger and thirst after righteousness means having a desire for right behavior, of right standing before God and the right relationship with God, others and ourselves. What we need to understand is that we will never be able to fulfill a righteous living in our own strength, but the Holy Spirit enables us to live a life pleasing to God. It is a daily want, just as we require food daily, we require to be filled daily with the presence of God.
Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled, and when God fills us we will be full indeed. In John 7:37 says “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”
It is through our relationship with Jesus that this desire for righteousness grows because He is righteousness and seeing Him, it inspires us to be transformed from one degree of glory into another, as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
5. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy:
To be merciful is to show forgiveness and compassion to those in need. Jesus frequently spoke of this, even in the Lords Prayer, He says “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). In Matthew 9:13 Jesus says “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
We are blessed if we are merciful because mercy is something God Himself displays. God’s mercy is the withholding of a just punishment. Jesus Himself often showed mercy as we read in Mark 5:19, where Jesus heals a man freed of demons, “However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”
Above all we too have received His mercy and as being God’s children we must reflect His mercy. The merciful in this world are blessed in the sense that they know God’s joy. The person who is merciful will be eternally happy because he knows God’s mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God:
The word pure, translated from Greek means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” The word can also refer specifically to that which is purified by fire or by pruning. John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11). Malachi 3:2 speaks of the Messiah as being like a “refiner’s fire”. Jesus also refers to believers as being the branches and refers to Himself as being the vine. For a vine to produce good fruit it must be pruned. This then means those who are truly pure are the people who have been declared innocent because of the work of Jesus and who are being sanctified by His refining fire and His pruning.
Being pure in heart involves having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is marked by transparency and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior; its an internal purity of soul. The only way we can be truly pure in heart is to give our lives to Jesus and ask Him to do the cleansing work. Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit with me.”
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God:
Jesus laid down His life to make peace between God and sinners, and when we can carry that message of peace to others, we are peacemakers. God delights in those who reconcile other to Himself. Those who bring reconciliation to broken relationships are carrying on the work of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Those who give of themselves as Jesus did in order that others may may know God are “blessed”. There is no real peace apart from a relationship with God.
Only the children of God can bring the peace of knowing God to others. A person must have a real relationship with God before he or she can help someone else to know God. Those who witness for Christ, share their faith with their friends and serve others in the name of Christ and are the ambassadors for peace. Those who bring the wonderful message of God’s peace to the world are “peacemakers” and Jesus calls them the “children of God”.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven:
Christ was persecuted for our sake, through His suffering on the cross we are being saved from sin and God’s wrath that is coming upon the ungodly on judgment day. In the same way that Christ suffered for our sake, we that have been saved through Him, will also suffer for His sake as it says in John 15:21 “But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”
We live in a dark world that is filled with sin. The world does not embrace righteousness as they do not know Him, but they rather embrace sin therefore becoming enemies to righteousness as they have become the children of the devil and slaves to sin. Therefore, opposing and persecuting those who are proclaiming the truth and living a life that is right before God.
2. Matthew 5:13-16 – Believers are Salt and Light
Believers Are Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We are to be the salt of this earth. When there is no salt, mankind in all his ignorance and wickedness will rot in their sinfulness. But Christ has sent us to be the salt of this world, and it must be displayed in the we way we live our lives and the gospel message we preach seasoning it with knowledge and grace. But being Christians if we do not do this, then the salt has lost its flavor. If we put on Christ but but remain graceless, no other doctrine or other means will make us profitable.
Our light must shine , so that people may see our good works and give glory to the Father in heaven. Our aim must be to glorify God in all that we do and to bring His goodness and kindness to those in need.
3. Matthew 5:17-20 – Christ Fulfills the Law
Christ Fulfills the Law
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
It is important for us not to devalue any of the command of God’s holy law. Until we repent of our sins we cannot partake of Christ’s justifying righteousness. Once we accept Christ and receive His mercy, this will lead us to still deeper look at the way we live our lives. If we are Christ’s disciples we will not encourage anyone to walk in disobedience to God’s laws or encourage anyone to do the same in whatever situation. Christ’s righteousness was given to us by faith alone and is needed by everyone who enters the kingdom of grace. When we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, it creates in us a heart to holiness and produces a change so great in our lives, it transforms us by the renewal of our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. Matthew 5:21-26 – Murder Begins in the Heart
Murder Begins in the Heart
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
As per the Old Testament commandment (“Thou shalt not kill” ), the Jewish teachers taught that nothing except actual murder was forbidden by the sixth commandment. By doing this they explained away the spiritual meaning. Christ has now showed the full meaning of this commandment, and this is what we will be judged against. So it is very important to learn from Christ’s teachings. As per the teaching of Christ, all rash anger is murder in the heart. The reference to brother here, is a reference any person as we are all made of one blood.
“Raca” is a scornful word, a word of contempt. It is derived from a root meaning “to spit” and a result of pride. Similarly when a person says “you fool”, it is a spiteful word and comes from hatred. People who say such things are those that kills someone spirit secretly and slowly. Christ is showing that however lightly we may take such things, they will be certainly called into judgment for them. Remember that words can kill.
We must carefully preserve Christian love and peace with all of our brothers. If we are involved in any arguments, we must confess our fault and humble ourselves to our brothers, sisters or whoever it may be. If we have done anything wrong we must make things right for the wrong done in word or deed quickly, because until then this affects our communication and relationship with God.
It is always a good idea to reflect on ourselves and self-examine ourselves. As we live on this earth, we are in the way to His judgment seat and after death it will be too late for anything. When we realize the importance of this and the uncertainty of our life from one second to another, it shows how critical it is to seek peace with God, without any delay.
5. Matthew 5:27-30 – Adultery in the Heart
Adultery in the Heart
27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Again, Christ is referring to the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. Again the Pharisees had explained this commandment, as they had the sixth, as extending only to the external act. They regarded evil thoughts and deliberate willful imaginations as of little consequences and not forbidden by he law.
Jesus is confirming that the commandment did not regard the external act only, but it addresses the secrets of the heart and the movements of the eye. Christ declares that those who indulge in a deliberate desire and those who look on a women to increase their lust, have already in the sight of God committed adultery in their heart.
This was the guilt of David, whose awful crime fully shows the danger of indulging in evil desires as a result of first lusting in the heart. We must be very careful in out thoughts and deeds to glorify God and not to give in to our sinful desires.
The right eye – The Hebrews, like others, were accustomed to represent the affections of the mind by the members or parts of the body, for example in
Romans 7:23 says “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
Also Romans 6:13 says “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
So an evil eye relates sometimes envy (Matthew 20:15 “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?”), and sometimes an evil passion (Mark 7:21-22 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” In this place the expression is used to denote strong adulterous passion, unlawful desire, or wicked inclination. The right hand and eye are mentioned because they are of most use to us and the Christ is saying, however strong the passion may be, or difficult to part with, we must do it.
The main point to be considered here is that it is better to deny ourselves the gratification of an evil passion, however much it may cost us, rather than going to hell forever. Similarly if the right hand causes us to sin – the right hand is selected for the same reason as the right eye, and is one of the most important members of the human body. So we can see the idea here is that whatever earthly objects that causes us to sin must be sacrificed rather than it leading us to sin.
6. Matthew 5:31-32 – Marriage is Sacred and Binding
Marriage Is Sacred and Binding
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
Deuteronomy 24:1 says “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hands, and sends her out of his house,”. The husband was to give his wife a certificate of the fact that she had been his wife, and that he had dissolved the marriage. There were a lot of opinions among the Jews for what cause the husband was permitted to do this. Some suggested that it could be done for any cause however trivial. Others maintained that only adultery could justify it.
The truth however was that the husband exercise this right at pleasure; that he was the judge in the case and dismissed his wife when and for what cause he chose.
Our Savior in Mark 10:1-12 says that this was permitted on account of the hardness of hearts, but that in the beginning it was not so. God made a single pair, and ordained marriage for life. But Moses found the people so hardened and for so long accustomed to the practice, and so rebellious that as a matter of civil appointment, he thought it best not to attempt any changes. Christ brought marriage back to its original intention, saying that whoever put away his wife, except for the one offense will be guilty of adultery. This is now the law, the original institution. This is the only law that will produce peace and good morals. It will also allow husbands to respect their wife and ultimately for the good of the children also. As per the teachings of Christ, there is to be no other reason for divorce. So whoever is divorced for any cause except for the single one of adultery, if they marry again, are according to the scriptures, living in adultery. No earthly laws can trample down the laws of God, or make them right which he has solemnly pronounced wrong.
7. Matthew 5:33-37 – Jesus Forbids Oaths
Jesus Forbids Oaths
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
Christ again clarifies another false interpretation of the law. An oath is a solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed and invoking His vengeance and renouncing His favor if what is affirmed is false. Christ here is not referring to judicial oaths here, or oaths taken in a court of justice. It was the habit of swearing in private conversations as well as swearing on every occasion and by everything that he condemned.
So let us too not swear in any of these common and profane ways similar to what was customary at that time. Jesus also said, do not swear by your head. To swear by the head is the same as to swear by the life; or to say I will forfeit my life if what I say is untrue. God is the ultimate author of the life, and to swear by that is the same as to swear by Him. We cannot make one hair black or white, because we have no control or right over your own life. Christ has all control and therefore it is improper and profane to pledge what is God’s gift and God’s property; and it is the same as swearing by God Himself.
So let us always say what we mean, and do what we say. Let our yes be a yes and our no be a no.
8. Matthew 5:38-42 – Go the Second Mile
Go the Second Mile
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
This is another command found in Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21. They were to take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, inflict burning for burning etc… These were given as a rule to regulate the decisions of judges. This was a judicial law that was given, but the Jews also extended it to private conduct and made it a rule whereby to take revenge. But the plain instruction here is that we can suffer any of these injuries for the ultimate sake of peace, committing all your concerns to the Lord’s keeping. The sum of all of this is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving. Those who act upon right principles will have the most peace and comfort.
9. Matthew 5:43-48 – Love Your Enemies
Love Your Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
The Jewish teachers by neighbors understood only those who were of their own country, nation and religion, who they were pleased to look to as friends. Jesus teaches us that we must see every single person as our neighbor, no matter what religion, race, color or country. We must be kind to all, especially to their souls and pray for them. While many people do good for good, we must as do good for evil; and this will speak volumes.
Other people greet their own brothers and friends and of their own party, and way, and opinion, but we must not be confined by this. It is the duty of a Christian to desire, aim at, and press towards perfection in grace and holiness. We must conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father, as it says in 1 Peter 1:15-16 “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy. And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;”
There is more expectation on the followers of Christ than from others. Let us ask God to help us in order that we may prove that we are His children.
If you have never given your life to Christ, and you feel the call of God in your heart. Now is the time to respond and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
You can receive remission of your sins, not by your own works, but through faith in Jesus Christ who already paid the price for us. All you have to do is to accept his sacrifice in your place as a free gift. Take this moment to declare you have accepted the free gift by saying the following prayer:
“God I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me. Amen.”
If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact us and we would love to talk to you about living a life with Jesus as the center of your life.
Bible reading: New King James Version (NKJV)
Resources: Various Bible Commentaries