Pondering the Passages: Matthew 5:1-12
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Memory Verse for the week: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
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 children 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.
Things I notice:
The word ‘blessed’ is used 9 times in this passage. The world’s definition of blessed goes something like this: If I am wealthy, if I am successful, if I am beautiful then I am blessed. Jesus turns this upside down. He gives a radically different definition of what it means to be blessed.
What does it mean to be blessed? The Greek word is makarios. It describes the kind of joy that can’t thwarted by the circumstances of life. The kind of joy that is not dependent on financial wealth or good health or a problem free life. It is a joy that is rooted in God and that triumphs in the face of adversity.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit? To realize that we are spiritually bankrupt. To understand that I have absolutely nothing that can help me win God’s favor – that I am totally and completely dependent upon God to find life and joy and strength.
How is it that those who mourn will be comforted? What is it that they are mourning for? Mourning for their sin. There is a genuine sorrow in those who mourn that goes beyond just saying the words “I’m sorry.” There is heart break when one realizes what their sin has done to God and a desperate need to repent and make things right. What father would not wrap his arms around his child and comfort him when he sees this kind of mourning over sin.
How can I develop a “hunger and thirst for righteousness“? I notice about myself that I hunger and thirst for a lot of things. Food! Sleep! Comfort! Sex! Fun! New disc golf discs! Approval! Techie play toys! But righteousness – not so much. So how can I begin to hunger and thirst for something that really matters? Here are a few thoughts as I’ve pondered this:
- I need to become CONVINCED that righteousness is good for me! It’s kind of like eating more fruits and vegetables. I try to do this because I know that they are good for me. When I become convinced that righteousness is better for me than my unrighteous acts then I will crave them more.
- I need to understand that righteousness is a heart issue and not a “do more good stuff” issue. If I do not desire righteousness then maybe I should examine my heart and deal with its corruption. Example: If I have a clogged artery in my heart the key is NOT to do more exercise – that could kill me. The key is to get the clog cleaned out – and that requires radical and painful surgery. Don’t like the sound of that but the alternative could be devastating as well as deadly.
- I need to learn how to say “NO!” Titus 2:11 tells me that the grace of God teaches me to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions. But it is up to me to say no when my desires are screaming YES. I think this is where godly friendships can be huge. I absolutely need you guys who are reading this to encourage me to pursue righteousness – because I promise you, even though I am a pastor, I have a very corrupt heart.
I note also that Jesus uses the hope of heaven and FUTURE reward to encourage and motivate His listeners to live faithfully in the present – even in the midst of persecution and mourning and trouble. Like we saw with Paul last week in Ephesians 1 I get the feeling that Heaven and it’s reward is never far from the mind of Jesus. It’s as if He is moving inexorably toward a goal and NOTHING is going to keep Him from getting there. If you are interested in learning more about Heaven and what we can expect, a really good resource I can recommend is the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn as well as his blog.
Next Passage to Ponder: 1 John 1:1-4
Next Memory Verse: 1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”