Welcome to the first in a series on The Beatitudes.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus set the tone early on in His ministry regarding what He was about and what it meant to be His disciple and have a Kingdom mindset. Soon after He was baptized, and Jesus had gathered the twelve disciples, He taught a series of sermons on a mountain. Prior to Matthew chapter 5 we read that Jesus had been in and around Galilee teaching and preaching to the people.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them (Matthew 5:1-2).
The Sermon on the Mount is the longest continual bit of teaching from Jesus spanning over what was likely several days of teaching. These teachings can be found in three chapters in the book of Matthew. The teachings fr are considered paramount for those who are following after Jesus. During His Sermons on the Mount, Jesus address not just His disciples, but the crowds of people following Him, and you can sure bet, amongst them were also some of the religious leaders of the day.
The disciples were those who were fully committed to following Jesus as Messiah and His ways. These disciples would include at the very least the original twelve, and then possibly some of the others who followed after Him as His disciples as well. The crowds of people were those who were curious and often astounded by Jesus’ teaching and ministry, but they remained uncommitted to Him and His ways.
The Mount Jesus chose to settle in on and teach was a hill overlooking the sea of Galilee just to the Northwest and above the town of Capernaum. Today if you were to travel to Israel, you would see a 20th century church, called the Church of the Beatitudes, standing on the site where they believe Jesus taught. In 2009 I had the privilege to travel to Israel and I saw this location first hand. The top of the mountain has a fantastic panoramic view, and the way the hill was sloped it served as a natural outdoor amphitheater thus allowing Jesus to speak and his voice be projected to those gathered to listen. Many believe Jesus would have taught from the middle of the mountain so those above and below could hear His voice. The Church of the Beatitudes is amazing. It was built with eight-sides to represent the eight beatitudes.
What exactly are the Beatitudes and why are they important for us who follow Jesus today?
The word beatitude comes from the Latin word beatus which means “happy” or “blessed.” So, the Beatitudes are about being happy and blessed as we go about living our life, in the kingdom. Yes, that’s right, after Jesus comes out from the wilderness where He was fasted and was tested He immediately began His ministry by announcing the coming of the kingdom of heaven.
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near (Matthew 4:17).
Jesus then went about teaching, healing and setting people free as a demonstration of the coming Kingdom and as a fulfilment of God’s promises through the Old Testament Prophets. In light of this, the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount are descriptions and instructions for those living in the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus came to earth, He brought the kingdom with Him and He modeled for us how we could also operate and live in and under the principles of His Kingdom.
John Piper puts it this way:
Jesus made it his ministry to preach the coming of the kingdom, teach the way of the kingdom, and demonstrate the purpose and power of the kingdom by healing the sick. Preaching, teaching, and healing.
The Sermon on the Mount teachings are a demonstration of what we should be living as Christ followers. These teachings are the foundation for what Jesus modeled and would be doing for the next three years of His earthly ministry. Over the next few years of His ministry Jesus would put into practice for all to see each lesson He taught during this session of sermons on the mount. These messages which He shared are a part of the good news of Gospel. The Gospel message that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. He had come to establish His kingdom and equip disciples to share that good news with the world.
The Beatitudes are the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached for the here and now and also for the Kingdom to come. I look forward to diving in deeper to each one of the 8 Beatitudes in the weeks to come.
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