The Gospel of Jesus
One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, there’s something about the preacher’s message this morning that I don’t understand.” The mother said, “Oh? What is it?” The little girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the world in His hand. Is that true?” The mother replied, “Yes, that’s true, honey.” “But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?” Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face, the little girl then asked, “If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
That is what the beatitudes are about – God showing through. It has always been God’s purpose that when He entered our lives, He would be allowed to so fill and control us that He would “show through” – that He would be visible in our attitudes and actions. Not that we would just imitate Christ, or try to do the things that Jesus would do, but that Christ Himself would be allowed to live through us. The beatitudes are like a light bulb inside…that only shines when plugged into God’s power!
Don’t try to ‘act’ this way. One preacher said the beatitudes are supposed to ‘be’ your ‘attitude’. No…you can’t pretend. Humans aren’t able to keep the beatitudes, no matter how hard they try. Nobody can be like Jesus like Jesus can. By the Holy Spirit, He has come to live IN us that He might live THROUGH us to meet the needs of hurting humanity. And when He does, others see the image of Christ shining through this veil of flesh.
Let me ask you a question: How would life be different if Jesus were to come to take your place? What if He took your place in the home? What if He performed your work on the job? The teenager, what if He sat at your desk at school? What if He filled my place in the pulpit? Yet, that is exactly what He wants to do. He came to live within me to mortify the carnal works of this body, master the circumstances of my life, manifest His character, and minister to others whom my life touches every day.
Knowing that makes me wonder, does anyone ever see God showing through me? Well, if they did, I know what He would look like, for the beatitudes are a portrait of Christ.
- He was poor in spirit. Although He was Almighty God with all the rights and privileges of deity, He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
- He mourned. He wept for Lazarus. He wept over Jerusalem. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
- He was meek. He hungered and thirsted after righteousness. He was merciful. Measure the life of Christ by these qualities, and you will find that He modeled them all. I am convinced that this is not a description of the Christian man, but of the God-man, Christ. And as He shone while on this earth, so we can glow as we yield our lives to Him.
So, why should we study this today? The answer is the first word of the first verse: ‘Blessed’
Joke—the forgetful preacher: went to conference to glean good things to bring home to his ministry / heard them say that the first thing you say in your message should be attention grabbing / then he heard a preacher stand up and give an example, saying, ‘I spent many years of my life in the arms of another man’s wife.’ [the people gasped] He continued ‘…she was my mother!’ / the forgetful preacher said, oh, I’ve gotta remember that one. He got home and couldn’t wait to grab their attention Sunday morning. He said, ‘I spent many years of my life in the arms of another man’s wife.’ [dramatic pause] ‘…for the life of me I can’t remember who she was!’ Well, at least he got their attention!
So, why should we study this today? The answer is the first word of the first verse, and almost every verse: ‘Blessed’. Jesus got our attention from the get-go. We want to be blessed!
Here is what others will see when God shows thru:
- A Happy Person
This is the first sermon recorded in the New Testament as having been preached by Jesus Christ. It begins with a promise of happiness. Nine times the voice of Jesus reached out to the multitudes seated on that hillside – people who were oppressed politically, socially, and economically – with the offer of genuine joy.
- Happiness – the uncommon feeling
- The word translated “blessed” is makarios.
Typically, it was used to describe:
- The wealthy, because they enjoyed a standard of living that appeared to put them out of reach of the cares of this life. (Money can buy happiness.)
- The Greek gods because they had the power to gratify their every desire.
It described a state of contentment and delight that was reserved for a very privileged minority.
- This world gives us their definition of happiness.
- Blessed are the rich
- Blessed are the famous
- Blessed are the gifted
- Blessed are the powerful
Happiness is a common desire. Yet, so few people seem to have it that we put it in the same category as four-leaf clovers and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the elusive, the unattainable.
- If happiness is linked with power, not everyone can have it.
- If happiness is linked with prosperity… “”
- If happiness is linked with popularity… “”
- Happiness – the unexpected offer
Chuck Swindoll, in his book Simple Faith, made the following observation. After noting that Jesus used nine, back-to-back announcements of blessing, he remarked, “Having endured a lifetime of verbal assaults by the scribes and Pharisees, the multitude on the mount must have thought they had died and gone to heaven.”
For some reason, many people look at the Bible and all they can see is the negative. They emphasize the prohibitions, the curses, and the judgments and leave people with the impression that God has the disposition of a dill pickle. They seem to see God as the “cosmic killjoy” who spends His time trying to think up new ways to make people miserable.
Jesus painted a different picture. He showed them a God who wanted them to have joy – who wanted to fill their life with satisfaction, contentment, and delight, even through the ups and downs and trials…not to become sad victims for everyone to feel sorry for.
The same word ‘blessed’ is used in 1 Tim. 1:11
According to the glorious gospel of the blessedGod, which was committed to my trust.
I’m so glad I serve a happy God, a joyful God. Don’t ever let someone criticize you for having fun at church. It’s a wonderful life, a natural high, and you don’t have to wake up tomorrow feeling guilty!
The same word is also in Titus 2:13
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
It also has the meaning of “congratulations!”
So, are you poor in spirit? Congratulations! [mourn?] Now, are you really gonna wear that on your sleeve for attention? You’ve been chosen to know some of His sufferings in this life. Congrats! Are you really gonna see it as a negative and allow yourself to be defined in that way, or will you rise above, and let Jesus shine thru you, and let ‘this mind’ be in you and ‘be’ your attitude?!
Are you happy? Too many people spend their lives thinking, “I could be happy if…” They are looking for happiness in the wrong places, associating it with the wrong things. They never have enough and I promise you…you can’t do enough for them. And I would suggest that though they like to be seen and people often give them attention, these same people seldom see God showing through them.
When God shows thru, the world will see not only a happy person, for happiness is often based on happenstance or circumstances, but they’ll see something deeper…
- A Whole Person
The beatitudes are a portrait of Christ – that which we would see if God were living in the body of a man. And God’s purpose, according to Romans 8:29, is for every Christian to be conformed to the image of Christ. Therefore, it is reasonable to draw the following conclusions:
- The beatitudes describe qualities that EVERY CHRISTIAN should exhibit. (They don’t describe a special class of “Super Christians.”)
- Every Christian should exhibit ALL of them.
- They are not guidelines for Christian character.
A guideline suggests a standard that you and I should strive to measure up to. Men do not have what it takes to reach the standard set by the beatitudes. Instead, we have sin in us.
- Sin at work in the heart of man makes them proud.
- Sin at work in the heart of man makes them pushy.
- It’s the presence of sin that produces a hunger and thirst for that which is unholy.
- Sin is a spiritual problem requiring a spiritual solution.
- The beatitudes describe the evidence of a yielded life.
They are not to be produced BY the Christian, but IN the Christian. They tell us what men will see in a life that is surrendered to the Lord.
- The beatitudes do not represent individual qualities, but a complete picture of a human mastered by God…a complete package.
Ill.–The Bible speaks of the FRUIT of the Spirit, not the fruits. A person under the control of the Holy Spirit isn’t going to demonstrate love but lack self-control. The evidence that a man is truly walking in the Spirit is that he exhibits the fruit of the Spirit on a consistent (not perfect) basis.
The Beatitudes are the same. Are we seeing a work of God in a person if they appear to be “poor in Spirit” but still hunger and thirst for the things of this world? Will God make me meek, but allow me to lack purity? What kind of impression would people have of God if He worked that way? He doesn’t do things halfway. If you are really saved and truly filled with the Spirit then these fruits…these attitudes will show thru you!
It is impossible to genuinely display one of these qualities as the work of God without displaying them all. True, because of circumstances, one or more will at times be more prominent, but the Holy Spirit will not manifest one with a disregard for the others. If that is the case in my life, it is a sure sign that what people are seeing is a fleshly counterfeit, not a genuine, spiritual work of God.
- The beatitudes are not a standard for me to achieve, but a yardstick by which to measure my submission to the Holy Spirit.
I do not spend my time worrying about whether or not I am poor in spirit, meek, merciful, etc. My focus is on walking in the Spirit – being submissive to the Holy Spirit – because I know that if the Holy Spirit is in control of my life, He will manifest these qualities.
However, the beatitudes let me know that if I am being hateful and vindictive then it is a sure sign that I am not walking in the Spirit. If I am driven by selfish ambition, then my life is not yielded to Christ.
- 3 Poor in spirit =emptiness. Having a humble / sober / right self-image. This is about our self. Some Christians are all about ego [how I want to feel about me] or reputation [what others say about me.] But we should strive to be about character. [what God knows about me!]
We all want to feel good about ourselves, but Biblically, you cannot feel good about yourself until you feel bad about yourself.
Seeing ourselves accurately comes by seeing the Lord in His glory!
- Isaiah saw the Lord and said, “Woe is me!”
- Peter saw the Lord and said “Depart from me, I am a sinful man”
- Saul, before he became Paul, felt very spiritually wealthy, and had the attitude that if anybody’s going to heaven I am…but on the road to Damascus he got one glimpse of the Lord and became physically blind, but spiritually he could see for the first time who he really was. He got saved! And it all began when he became poor in spirit! And ‘his’ is the kingdom of heaven!
- 4 Mourn =brokenness. This is about our sin. This is when we realize our sin breaks God’s heart, and then our heart breaks over it, too!
- 5 Meek =submissiveness. This is about our saviour. It’s power under control. It’s the picture of a horse that has been broken. Is that horse weak? No! Meekness isn’t a weakness. It’s us being under God’s control.
The happiest people in the world are those who yield themselves to experience the Spirit of God every day. Why? Because theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they are comforted, they inherit the earth, they are filled, they obtain mercy, they see God – and others see God in them, for they are called “the children of God.” They also lead the most fulfilling lives – because God makes them into a complete person.
I want you to do something right now with eyes closed. Mentally, reach into your hip pocket or your purse and pull out a little mirror. Now, look into it. Are you allowing God to so control and fill your life that He “shows through?” You know what He looks like. His portrait is in the beatitudes. If not, why not take the first step and yield yourself to the Holy Spirit of God. It’s the only way that you can experience these qualities and the happy, joy-filled blessedness that goes with them.
Please come back every week as we continue on in our study of the beatitudes from the sermon on the mount: “The greatest sermon ever preached by the greatest preacher Whoever lived!”