Online Sunday School. The Gospel of Matthew, God With Us, Chapters 5-7.The Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes.. Kerygma materials Chapter 5

  1. Plaque on the Mt. of Beatitudes: Israel

    After beginning his community and gathering crowds, “Jesus went up the mountain . . . and taught them,” presenting extensive guidance for discipleship in the higher righteousness of God that will characterize their lives together as the kingdom of heaven comes near. While Luke has Jesus present much of this material in a plain (Luke 6, 17-49), Matthew presents “the Sermon on the Mount” suggesting Jesus’ as the heir of Moses.
  2. The first part of the “Sermon on the Mount” is known as the” Beatitudes.”

Matthew 5, 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 receive 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 for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

  1. “Blessed” (greek “Makarios”) from the root for “happy” or “enlarge” means that God’s favor has been extended, resulting in close communion with God and neighbor. In Matthew, Jesus speaks of blessing as a present reality for those in right relationship with God and living toward their neighbors as God intends. God’s people in the Messianic age are not proud, uncaring, selfish, deceitful or aggressive. Instead they know their need for God, have experienced loss and sorrow, long for true goodness, show mercy, are utterly honest and have suffered for the cause of doing good for others.
  2. The Beatitudes turn our ordinary world upside down. Few people seek to mourn or to be persecuted. Few choose to be meek.
  3. Translations from Matthew’s Greek to today’s English also pose challenges.
    1. To most of us, the term “meek” suggests weakness, cowardice and for men, lack of manhood. However, the Greek term can mean gentleness combined with strength. Jesus applies the Greek term to himself in Matthew 11, 29

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

b. “Pure” in Greek means clean or uncontaminated by evil.
  1. Matthew says “blessed are the poor in spirit” where Luke says “blessed are the poor.” Are there different and if so, how? Are the poor in spirit:
    1. People who have comparatively little care for accumulating wealth?
    2. People who have experienced a broken spirit due to the results of trying to control their lives, and need to turn their lives to God?
    3. People who have experienced broken spirit due to losses inflicted on them?
    4. In our culture it is common to blame the poor and their personal failings for their poverty. If this is true, how can the poor in spirit be blessed, at least in America?
  1. The Beatitudes are challenging to many. Some may believe:
    1. The Beatitudes are aspirational but impractical;
    2. The Beatitudes are what God wants but people can not be expected to carry them out.
    3. The Beatitudes describe life in heaven, or after the Second Coming, but not now.
    4. The Beatitudes bring too high of a cost.
    5. Like Matthew 5, 29 about tearing out a body part that causes you to sin, the Beatitudes are not to be taken literally, but to be taken into account with other things in deciding how to live your live.
    6. The Church should promote the Beatitudes, and when someone takes them seriously it can be inspirational.
  2. Jesus says the people described are blessed, not that they will be blessed at some later time, even if they are reviled and persecuted for being so. Jesus next tells them that they are to be the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” Salt in ancient Israel was valued as a taste enhancer and preservative, honored in Israelite rituals and miracles, and in the ancient world was used for money (“worth his salt”) and fought over. Light was associated in scripture with creation, God’s love and the hope of a Messiah. Accordingly Jesus was expecting his followers to live the Beatitudes.

What are your views of the Beatitudes? How much do you value them compared to other things?