Sermon title:  THE BEATITUDES SHOW WHAT SHOULD BE OUR ATTITUDES
Matthew 5:1-16

 

    Immanuel Baptist Church – April 22, 2018

 

Back to ImmanuelBaptistNB.org

 

The most famous sermon ever given

in the history of the world

is “The Sermon on the Mount.”

 

And we’re beginning to look at it this morning.

 

I say we’re just “beginning” to look at it,

because it fills three whole chapters

of the Gospel According to Matthew—

Matthew chapters 5 through 7.

 

And it contains so much teaching

directly from the mouth of our Lord Jesus

that we need to spend the time to examine it closely.

 

In recent weeks we’ve already seen

how Jesus was controversial.

People like the scribes and Pharisees

attacked him verbally

and even plotted to arrest him and kill him

for the things he did

and for the things he said.

 

So, it shouldn’t surprise us

that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

is still controversial today.

 

Those who love Jesus today

love his Sermon on the Mount.

It offers comfort and peace and hope,

and it reveals the tender and merciful heart

of our Lord and Savior,

as well as the righteous judgment of our God.

 

But there are still plenty of people around today

who are like

the scribes & Pharisees, the Herodians and the Sadducees.

They still pick apart

the words of our Lord

and try to undermine the things he said.

 

The Sermon on the Mount is no exception.

 

They attack even the very first verse,

which began our responsive reading this morning.

 

Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 1 says,

“Now when he saw the crowds,

he went up on a mountainside and sat down.

His disciples came to him,

2 and he began to teach them”

 

And that’s why we call it the Sermon on the Mount:

Jesus gave this sermon on a mountainside.

 

But those who want to pick it apart

point to Luke, Chapter 6,

where Luke recorded the same sermon.

 

The critics point out that Luke introduces the sermon

by saying,

17He went down with them and stood on a level place.

 

‘See, the Bible contradicts itself,’ they say.

‘Matthew says mountain and Luke says level place—

that’s a contradiction.’

 

But, if you actually compare the passages,

you find that Luke 6:12 says Jesus went up on a “mountainside,”

just as Matthew does.

And then Luke 6:17 says,

17 He went down with them and stood on a level place.

 

So, Jesus found a level place on the mountainside

where crowds could gather to listen to him.

There is no contradiction there.

-------------------------------------------

Critics also attack the Bible

over the Sermon on the Mount

because Matthew has it all together in one place—Matthew chapters 5 thru 7,

while in the Luke the same words

are scattered about in different chapters.

 

Much of the Sermon on the Mount is found

in Luke Chapter 6.

But portions of it are also found in Luke chapters 11, 12, 14 and 16.

 

If you want to compare these parallel passages yourself,

you can find them in the book titled

Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Side by Side.

There are free copies on the table in the vestibule.

 

There really is no contradiction here, either.

 

Matthew Chapter 5 and Luke Chapter 6 both agree

that Jesus gave this particular sermon

at this particular time.

 

The fact that Luke quotes Jesus as speaking the same words

at different times and places

shouldn’t surprise us at all.

 

Jesus visited many towns and cities

in Galilee, Judea, Samaria and the surrounding area.

 

There weren’t any live broadcasts in those days,

or audio/video recordings,

and the New Testament wasn’t written yet.

 

So, the only way people in different towns

would hear what Jesus taught,

would be for him to repeat his words

and even repeat whole sermons

to these different audiences.

 

So, it’s not a contradiction

for us to find the Sermon on the Mount

all compactly in one place in Matthew 5 through 7,

and Jesus’ same words on other occasions

throughout the Gospel of Luke.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Now both Matthew and Luke

show the Sermon beginning with what are called

“the Beatitudes.”

 

Jesus began at Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 3,

as we just read in our Responsive Reading,

by declaring people “blessed”

who we would not ordinarily think of as blessed.

He said,

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst

for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted

because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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.

 

These “Blessed are...” expressions were “Beati...”

in Latin-language Bibles. 

So, printers gave Matthew 5  the  chapter heading  

“Beatitudo”   (meaning “blessedness”).

 

Centuries later, when English translations were published,

this heading was transliterated as “Beatitudes.” 

And so, that is what this collection of verses

is called today.

 

In a play on words,

we can turn it into a reminder

of what should BE our ATTITUDES.

 

Jesus tells us that we will be blessed,

if we have the right attitudes.

We should be pure in heart, merciful,

peace-makers, hungering and thirsting for righteousness—

and we will end up being blessed,

even if we find ourselves persecuted now.

These should BE our ATTITUDES.

 

If these are our attitudes,

we will be blessed.

 

We want to be blessed,

so let’s look at the Beatitudes one at a time.

 

Jesus starts out in Matthew 5:3,

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

The parallel passage in Luke says, simply,

"Blessed are you who are poor,

for yours is the kingdom of God.”

 

And in his parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus,

our Lord shows the poor beggar Lazarus

dying and being carried by the angels

to the arms of Abraham the patriarch.

 

The Greek word rendered “poor” at Matthew 5:3,

doesn’t carry the meaning

of someone with a low-paying job,

but rather a beggar—

someone with absolutely nothing

who must beg to get anything at all.

 

We are not self-sufficient

when it comes to spiritual things.

We approach God as beggars,

dependent on his mercy for whatever we get.

 

Our Lord says,

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

He satisfies our spiritual need,

and gives us the kingdom of heaven.

 

The next Beatitude is in Matthew 5:4, which says,

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

 

Even just reading that statement is comforting.

Jesus identifies with those of us who mourn.

He knows our pain,

and he wants to comfort us.

 

When Mary and Martha lost their brother Lazarus—

not the same Lazarus as in the parable;

Lazarus was a common name back then—

when Mary and Martha lost their brother,

and Jesus met up with the mourning family,

Jesus himself cried.

 

“Jesus wept.”—John 11:35

It’s the shortest verse in the whole Bible.

John 11:35—“Jesus wept.”

 

He wept because he felt the pain

of the family that was mourning,

and he cried with them.

And then he raised their brother from the dead,

and called him to come out of the tomb.

 

Jesus promises everlasting life to all who believe in him,

and he himself gives us that everlasting life.

But still, in this world,

he weeps with us,

and he comforts us with the promise,

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

 

The next Beatitude, in Matthew 5:5, says,

“Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.”

 

Jesus may have been quoting here

from Psalm 37, Verses 10 and 11,

which says,

“A little while,

and the wicked will be no more;

though you look for them, they will not be found.

But the meek will inherit the land

and enjoy great peace.”

 

The word translated “Meek”

carries the meaning “gentle” and “humble.”

It doesn’t mean weak.

It doesn’t mean a push-over.

 

Think of Moses.

  Numbers 12:3 tells us that Moses was the meekest man

on the face of the earth,

yet he boldly went before Egypt’s ruler Pharaoh,

with God’s message, “Let my people go!”

Think of Jesus.

    At Matthew 11:29 in the King James Version,

Jesus says,

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;

for I am meek and lowly in heart;

and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

 

Our Lord Jesus himself is meek,

and he says,

“Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.”

 

The next Beatitude is in Matthew 5, Verse 6,

where Jesus said,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst

for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

 

Our own righteousness is “filthy rags,”

compared with God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 64:6 says,

“all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

 

So, we hunger and thirst for righteousness

by seeking God’s righteousness.

When we do that,

and turn to Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord,

God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us.

 

He looks at us, as if we are covered

by Christ’s righteousness.

And so, we are “filled”—

not with our own righteousness,

but with the righteousness of Christ our Lord.

 

The next Beatitude is in Verse 7,

“Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.”

 

In Matthew, Chapter 25, our Lord gives us [  OPEN  ]

his parable of the Sheep and the Goats,

where he describes merciful conduct.

 

There in Matthew 25, beginning at Verse 35,

Jesus tells those who inherit the Kingdom,

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37 "Then the righteous will answer him,

'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,

or thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

39 When did we see you sick or in prison

and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply,

'I tell you the truth,

whatever you did

for one of the least of these brothers of mine,

you did for me.'

 

When we are merciful toward our brothers and sisters in Christ,

Jesus takes that as being merciful to him.

 

The next Beatitude is

“8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.”

 

That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect.

But our efforts to do good,

should not be just an outward show.

God sees our hearts.

And we should be wholehearted in wanting to please him.

 

The ancient man Job

was a sinner like us,

and he had misconceptions

about why he was suffering sickness and bereavement.

 

But, still, at Job 19:26, he expressed his confidence,

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,

yet in my flesh I will see God;

 

The pure in heart will see God.

 

In Verse 9, our Lord Jesus says,

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

 

How important it is to be peacemakers in the church!

 

Over the years, I’ve seen churches ripped apart

because the members didn’t work at being peacemakers.

 

I know one church in a town not far from here

that has had one upset after another,

with the church splitting down the middle each time.

Everyone got mad at each other,

and no one made peace.

And each time it happened,

the church emptied out,

with half the people suddenly leaving.

Each time, they had to start building membership again,

starting from scratch.

 

As offspring of Adam and Eve,

we’ve all inherited a tendency

to be contentious and argumentative.

 

When Joseph in Egypt revealed himself to his brothers,

 and sent them home to get their father Jacob,

he told them in Genesis 45:24,

"Don't quarrel on the way!"

because he knew how contentious they were.

 

And when Jesus’ disciples were following

a few steps behind him, arguing among themselves.

Mark 7:33 tells us Jesus asked them,

"What were you arguing about on the road?"

34 But they kept quiet

because on the way

they had argued about who was the greatest.

 

And when arguments break out in churches today,

it’s due to the same human weakness.

 

How important it is to be a peacemaker!

Jesus says,

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

 

The last two Beatitudes really go together,

because they both apply to those who are persecuted

for righteousness sake and for Jesus name.

 

Beginning with Matthew 5:10, Jesus said,

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted

because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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.

 

Luke captures a few more of Jesus’ words,

beginning at Luke 6:22,

“Blessed are you when men hate you,

when they exclude you and insult you

and reject your name as evil,

because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,

because great is your reward in heaven.”

 

In Acts Chapter 5 we read about how

the Jewish Sanhedrin high court

ordered the Apostles arrested and jailed

and then before releasing them

they had them flogged—publicly whipped.

It was a painful experience,

but Acts 5:41 tells us,

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing

because they had been counted worthy

of suffering disgrace for the Name.”

 

And that’s how our ATTITUDE ought to BE

when we hear the lessons of the Beatitudes.

--------------------------------------

 

Our responsive reading this morning

went beyond the Beatitudes

to include a few more verses from Matthew, Chapter 5,

where Jesus compares us to SALT and LIGHT,

if we heed his counsel

and maintain these attitudes.

At Matthew 5:13, Jesus says,

"You are the salt of the earth.

But if the salt loses its saltiness,

how can it be made salty again?

It is no longer good for anything,

except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

 

Food without any flavor is hardly worth eating, is it?

Jesus compares us to salt

that makes the earth worth preserving.

 

But the salt that was available in those days

may have been dug up from the edges of salt marshes

and often contained other material mixed with it.

 

If it became wet, the actual salt could leach out of it,

leaving behind a mixture that used to be called “salt,”

but that wasn’t really salty anymore.

So, the people who planned to use it to salt their food,

would instead throw it out,

like gravel for their footpath.

 

And that can happen to a church, too.

The church may still have a sign outside

identifying it as a Christian church,

but whose members no longer act like Christians.

 

Revelation, Chapter 3,

tells us something like that happened

with the church at Laodicea.

The Risen Christ had a message for that church,

and he said at Revelation 3, beginning with Verse 14,

14 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen,

the faithful and true witness,

the ruler of God's creation.

15 I know your deeds,

that you are neither cold nor hot.

I wish you were either one or the other!

16 So, because you are lukewarm—

neither hot nor cold—

I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

 

That church became lukewarm in their zeal.

The Risen Christ warned them to shape up,

or else he was going to spit them out of his mouth.

 

Similarly, after giving the Beatitudes,

Jesus tells us we arethe salt of the earth.

But if the salt loses its saltiness,

. . .

It is no longer good for anything,

except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

 

But, if we let the ATTITUDES of the BEATITUDES

BE our ATTITUDES,

Jesus tells us we are like the light of the world.

 

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus continues,

14 "You are the light of the world.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Neither do people light a lamp

and put it under a bowl.

Instead they put it on its stand,

and it gives light to everyone in the house.

16 In the same way,

let your light shine before men,

that they may see your good deeds

and praise your Father in heaven.

 

So, as Christians, we are invited to let our light shine.

We’re not invited to show off how good we are,

as if we’re better than everyone else.

But we are invited to let our good behavior speak for itself,

so that it brings praise to God.

 

Our good, peaceful conduct,

our wholesome speech,

and our humble, merciful attitudes—

these shine brightly

in a world that is darkened by sin.

 

And those who love the light

will come to the light

and will find their way to Jesus

as their Lord and Savior.