Matthew 5: Kingdom of Heaven Citizenship Test (Beatitudes Part I))
August 3, 2021
- Jesus begins to proclaim the Kingdom of God is here
- In the sermon on the mount, He lays out the new system He brings with that kingdom
- He starts with the beatitudes that lays out the requirements to become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven
*All of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew reinforce, explain, or build upon the beatitudes
Citizen Requirement 1: We understand that We enter and that the King does not Us!
- Reference to Isaiah 61
- Speaks of those whose “spirit is in despair/poor”
- Speaks to those who mourn for Zion
- Speaks of righteousness
- Speaks of inheritance
- Speaks of Joy in God
- Speaks of blessing among all nations
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- “Blessed” means beyond happiness, but internal joy, self-fulfilled joy
- “Poor in spirit”
- Context of poor in Isaiah 61
- Poor = Faithfulness to God
- Two Greek words for poor
- Working poor = what one has in relation to others
- Truly poor = what one does not have in relation to others
- The Greek here emphasizes concepts of zero possession, a beggar
*The more faithful you are to God, the more you realize how desperate you need him!
*To be poor in spirit then, refers to someone who realizes they can offer nothing to God, but simply must beg for all they have
*Often, to be faithful means to “give up” or “be put behind” in worldly endeavors that leads to poverty
*Uncommonly taught truth: God does NOT need us (although He does WANT us)! We offer him nothing! We solely need Him, but He does not need us.
- “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
- We beg, and God rewards us with citizenship to His kingdom
Citizen Requirement 2: We must be for Action and ready to !
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
- The Greek for mourn here is the highest form of “grief”
- Mourning is one of deep grief for the individual or society as a whole
- Here, the mourning is not simply over trivial things, but over the state of the world. I suffer because of my faith, or I suffer as a consequence of sin! Either way, the state of the world is one of suffering
- See Matthew 2 with the “Mourning of Rachel”
- See Matthew 4:23-24
*If one mourns over the systems, status of the world, then they are passionate and swayed to the new system of the Kingdom of God
*Because we are beggars, we mourn of that fact
Citizen Requirement 3: We must be and in !
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
- Like 2nd beatitude, the third leads from the previous
- Deviates from Isaiah 61 and quotes Psalm 37:11
- Greek word praus is impossible to translate with just one word
- English struggles to capture the meaning of this word
- Often translated as:
- Praus is most commonly used to describe “a horse that has been broken in”
- “Meek” means:
- Strength under control – Remember Testing of Jesus in Matthew 4
- Work under authority – See Spirit leading Jesus in Matthew 4
- Submission to timing, way, and direction –Remember Testing of Jesus in Matthew 4
- Taught and disciple
*Ultimately, the testing Jesus shows the key to its victory is to be Meek (Praus)
- See Matthew 11:28-30 – Jesus uses the Praus definition in describing our relationship with Him. (Attach to my yolk, for it is light)
- Often, to tame or “break in” a beast you would yoke the wild beast to a more experienced tamed beast in order to LEARN WITHOUT FEAR
*Formerly, we all were wild in our passions and required taming or to be “broken in”
*You must be teachable. You must possess strength under control. You must submit to God’s way and timing!
NOTE: Mourning and the desire for change (leading to zealous work) should not lead to uncontrollable work
Citizen Requirement 4: We must the Laws of the Kingdom!
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
- Greek means a profound hunger and thirst not satisfied by a snack or glass of water
- Christians hunger for many things (power, money, title, fame, etc.) but Christ says that hunger belongs to a different kingdom
- Hunger and thirst drives and leads to certain things:
- Real Committment
- Priority of action
- Passion for sustainment
- “for righteousness”
- God’s righteousness is based on His faithfulness. Our Righteousness is based on our faith and obedience
- “They will be filled”
- The Greek for “Filled” means the fattening of an animal before sacrifice
- Simply, they will be so filled with life in obedience to God and seeing God’s positive change enacted around the world
*Essentially, hunger/thirst or the fear of hunger/thirst centers your entire day. So too, the mission of the Kingdom of God should be the center of your day
Citizen Requirement 5: We Pay a Tax!
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
- Mercy was one of the weightier requirements of God’s law
- See Matthew 1 and Matthew 2 with Joseph’s mercy towards Mary
- Simple Idea: You give what you receive, and you receive what you give
- Different then Karma: Karma is one of balance within universe, but here it is a matter of justice. Christ makes clear we are judged by equal measure
*Think about your own judgments, standards for people in your life (spouse, kids, co-workers, etc.); it is by that measure to which you are measured
- See Matthew 18:21-35 – The unforgiving debtor
- See Matthew 7:2; Matthew 7:12
NOTE: To be merciful means you must “control your strength” i.e 3rd beatitude. It means seeking out those who mourn and are poor.
Citizen Requirement 6: Everyone to Kingdom Advancement
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
- To be Pure means to be Holy, to be Holy means to be Set-Apart
- Here, it surrounds the sense of clarity. You possess clarity in your role, calling, and mission in life
- It also emphasizes NO MORE DUPLICITY
*You cannot be one way at church and another at work. You represent His kingdom wherever you go.
- “they will see God”
- Again, you receive clarity to why things are the way they are
- God does not bend to our will, but we attempt to participate and bend to His. We can see, and therefore participate in where God is moving
*Understanding that “seeing God” is a privilege reserved only for those who are aligned to God’s calling and mission.
Citizen Requirement 7: We must and the Kingdom we Left
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
*NOTE: The command is to MAKE PEACE in the world and NOT BE AT PEACE WITH IT
- Peace, Reconciliation, and Restoration is at the center of the Gospel
- Jesus “brings Peace” as The Sabbath which restores us in relationship to God
- The only way to make/bring peace during WWII was to decisively win it. Same goes for Christ’s mission against Satan (See Matthew 10:34)
- We too, then must reflect a restorative element in our life.
- We FIGHT Hard to bring restoration in Relationships, environment, worship, etc.
- Example: Missionary Friend in South America
- “Called Children of God”
- Prince of Peace begets children of Peace
Citizen Requirement 8: Military Service !
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
*If you desire to be a citizen of Heaven, then you enter a war and will receive opposition
*You don’t leave conflict when you enter the Kingdom, you simply switch sides!
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Questions for Guided Discussion
- Read Matthew 5:3 – Are you poor in Spirit? Do you beg for God’s grace, strength, love, etc., or do you treat serving God as a gift TO God and not a privilege FROM God? Do you recognize, but more importantly live by the fact God does not need you, but you need God? Do you treat the Kingdom of God as a democracy?
- Read Matthew 5:4 – Do you mourn for the state of the world and your own corrupt nature? Are you indifferent or content with it? How does your dissatisfaction for the state of the world drive you to work to God’s better end?
- Read Matthew 5:5 – In what areas of your life do you lack control? Where do you need taming? Sexual passion? Anger? Profane mouth? Are you willing to work for God in God’s way? Or do you work for God YOUR way? How does Jesus set the example of “strength, power, and authority under control”?
- Read Matthew 5:6 – What things do you thirst and hunger for? What does our obedience, or lack thereof say about our desires? How has living an obedient, faithful life lead to full satisfaction in life?
- Read Matthew 5:7 – Think about the standards, expectations, and judgments you place on people in your life. Will you live up to your own measure as Christ says you will be? In what elements do lack compassion? Where do you excel? Why is our compassion not always holistically applied?
- Read Matthew 5:8 – If you were asked, “What is your role and purpose in God’s kingdom?” What would your answer be? Generally? Specifically?
- Read Matthew 5:9 – How do we “make peace” with the world without being “at peace” with it? Just as Christ restored our vertical relationship with God, how does He help us restore the horizontal relationships with people?
- Read Matthew 5:10 – Do you feel like your at war? The enemy does not attack what they do not feel threatened by, so where is there persecution in your life? If your faith is not causing discomfort or pain, then is there compromise?
- Reviewing all the beatitudes, would you pass the citizen test? Which beatitude do you feel to be lacking? Why? How do you fix it?