1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Read the passage several times and note anything that stands out to you or questions that come to mind. THEN, ponder the following questions in preparation for discussing them with your D-Group.
This is the way that John MacArthur describes what the word “blessed” means:
So, we’re talking here about contentment. We’re talking here about satisfaction. We’re talking here about what we tend to call happiness, inward happiness, a condition of bliss which is neither the result of external circumstances nor is it the result of some outside influence subject to change.
What does our culture say is the key to happiness, contentment, and satisfaction?
What are the things that you recognize in your life bring you happiness?
It has been said that God is more concerned about our holiness than our happiness. Do you think this is a true statement? Why or why not?
Verse 3 – To be poor in spirit is to recognize your utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. It is understanding that you have absolutely nothing of worth to offer God. Being poor in spirit is admitting that, because of your sin, you are completely destitute spiritually and can do nothing to deliver yourself from your dire situation.
Why would Jesus say that you are blessed if you are poor in spirit?
Verse 4 – Why would Jesus say that you are blessed when you mourn? (Check this out)
Verse 5 – Meekness is humility toward God and toward others. It is having the right or the power to do something but refraining for the benefit of someone else. William Barclay points out that the Greek word for “meek” was the word which was often used to describe an animal which had been tamed to obey the command of its master. It might be a strong animal like a horse or ox, able to do a great deal of work. It was not “weak”— but it was “meek,” always obedient to the will of its owner. Why would Jesus say “Blessed are the meek”?
Verse 6 – What does it mean to “hunger and thirst for righteousness?” Read #1 below.
How can you know if you are indeed hungering and thirsting for righteousness?
Verse 7 – What does it mean to be merciful? What is the difference between mercy and grace? See #2 below.
Verse 8 – What does it mean to be pure in heart? What is the difference between “positional” purity and “practical” purity? How can you attain purity of heart?
Verse 9 – What is the key to being a peacemaker? Ponder this quote and dialogue with your group about it:
Peacemaking is a noble vocation. But you can no more make peace in your own strength than a mason can build a wall without a trowel, a carpenter build a house without a hammer, or an artist paint a picture without a brush. You must have the proper equipment. To be a peacemaker, you must know the Peace-Giver. To make peace on earth, you must know the peace of heaven. You must know Him who “is our peace.”
Verse 10 – How is Jesus able to say with confidence “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”? What does He know that we have a tendency to forget?
Why is the price of living out the Beatitudes worth paying?
#1 – Both hunger and thirst are intense desires. The concept Christ spoke of in Matthew 5:6was a more powerful concept in His culture than it is in ours. For the most part we don’t know what it really means to hunger or thirst. Most of us have never experienced a drought. We think of hunger as an empty feeling we get when it’s 1:00 p.m. and we are used to eating at 12:15 p.m.
A book written by Major Vivian Gilbert called The Romance of the Last Crusade (N.Y.: D. Appleton & Co., 1927) describes the British liberation of Palestine in World War I. Dr. E.M. Blaiklock related part of it in a magazine article: “Driving up from Beersheba, a combined force of British, Australians and New Zealanders were pressing on the rear of the Turkish retreat over arid desert. The attack out-distanced its water-carrying camel train. Water bottles were empty. The sun blazed pitilessly out of a sky where the vultures wheeled expectantly.
“‘Our heads ached,’ writes Gilbert, ‘and our eyes became bloodshot and dim in the blinding glare…. Our tongues began to swell … our lips turned a purplish black and burst ….’ Those who dropped out of the column were never seen again, but the desperate force battled on to Sheria. There were wells at Sheria, and had they been unable to take the place by nightfall, thousands were doomed to die of thirst. ‘We fought that day,’ writes Gilbert, ‘as men fight for their lives…. We entered Sheria station on the heels of the retreating Turks. The first objects which met our view were the great stone cisterns full of cold, clear, drinking water. In the still night air the sound of water running into the tanks could be distinctly heard, maddening in its nearness; yet not a man murmured when orders were given for the battalions to fall in, two deep, facing the cisterns.’
“He describes the stern priorities: the wounded, those on guard duty, then company by company. It took four hours before the last man had his drink of water, and in all that time they had been standing 20 feet from a low stone wall, on the other side of which were thousands of gallons of water.
“‘I believe,’ Major Gilbert concludes, ‘that we all learned our first real Bible lesson on that march from Beersheba to Sheria wells.'” Blaiklock added, “If such were our thirst for God, for righteousness, for His will in our life, a consuming, all-embracing, preoccupying desire, how rich in the fruits of the Spirit would we be” (“New Light on Bible Imagery: Water,” Eternity [August, 1966], pp. 27-28).
#2 – Mercy and its derivatives always deal with pain and distress, which are the results of sin. However, grace deals with sin itself. Mercy deals with the symptoms of the disease while grace deals with the disease itself. Mercy offers relief from punishment; grace offers pardon for the crime. Grace removes a person’s sin and mercy eliminates the punishment due for sin. In 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, and Titus 1:4 Paul mentions grace and mercy as two separate things.
In Luke 10:30-35 Jesus tells of a Jewish man who was robbed and beaten. He was left lying on the side of the road. A priest went by but didn’t want to help so he kept on walking. A Levite went by and did the same. Then a Samaritan saw the maimed man and stopped to care for him. He bound up the man’s wounds and poured oil on them–that was mercy. He rented a room for him at an inn so he would have a place to stay–that was grace. By mercy the Samaritan dealt with the beaten man’s wounds. By grace he provided him with a better condition.
God’s mercy deals with the negatives of our sin and His grace does something positive for us. His mercy says, “No hell.” His grace says, “Heaven.” His mercy pities; His grace pardons. Mercy and grace are two sides of the same coin offered in salvation through Christ.
#3 – Positional purity – Christians are positionally pure because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to them by God (Rom. 3:21-26). When God looks at the believer He says, “You are absolutely pure in Christ.” Christ’s righteousness is applied to the believer through faith in Him. Believers are justified and made pure by His work alone (Rom. 5:1, 17-21; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 2:16). Ephesians 5:25-26 says, “Christ … loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” The church will be presented to Christ as a chaste virgin (2 Cor. 11:2).
Practical purity – Only He can bestow created purity. In the future He will bestow on every saint ultimate purity, and right now every believer has positional purity. Practical purity is what gives us trouble now. It is hard to live out the positional purity we have now. In 2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul says, “Dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” He meant we are to be living pure lives. At best in this life practical purity is gold mixed with some iron or a white cloak with some black threads. But God wants us to be pure and has empowered us to be so.
Those who are positionally pure in Jesus Christ will see God and be in His kingdom. Even now they manifest a pure life and pure motives. If that’s not true of your life then either you aren’t a Christian or you are a Christian living in disobedience. Christians do fail at times and are tempted to think, say, and do impure things. But the Bible tells us how to deal with failure and temptation. Ephesians chapter 6 speaks about the believer’s armor, which helps and protects us. And if we fail we have the promise of 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Every time you fail you are to face it and repent of what caused you to fail. God will cleanse you and you will move on to a greater level of purity.
(#1-3 are excerpted from John MacArthur’s Study Guides on the Beatitudes)