Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Matthew 5:1-10
For the past nine weeks, we have been studying the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 5 to which we refer as The Beatitudes. And what a study it has been.
With every verse in this study, I have been personally challenged to examine my life and to ask the question, "How can I more intentionally be like Jesus?"
The theme of this passage is the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven and the kind of life required of those who desire to receive this inheritance. These words offer a personalized message for each of us: Die to self. Live for Jesus.
When Jesus makes counter-culture statements such as: mourn, be meek, show mercy, offer peace, and celebrate your persecutions, He is calling us to a radically different way of living, one contrary to the way of the world, a life surrendered.
As I've studied this passage over the past 2 months, I've been amazed how these words from our Savior have challenged me to examine my choices, my thoughts, my motives, and more.
This sermon on the mount is more than just words from the Son of God. These words cut to the very core of who we are and what a life looks like for the one who is willing to deny everything to gain eternity.
The standard Jesus sets in this passage is too high to attain, yet demands we aspire to attain exactly this. To "hunger and thirst for righteousness" and live "pure in heart" are two challenges from Jesus that call us to possess an incessant appetite for holiness. Such an appetite doesn't come easy and rarely comes without tremendous sacrifice to die to self moment by moment, challenge by challenge, and choice by choice.
After challenging His followers to pursue the blessed life, Jesus then uses two images to illustrate how we as His followers are to live in this new way to which He has called us. He says we are to be salt and light. Salt preserves and brings flavor. Light, true light, cannot be hidden.
This is the call on the life of every believer - to incite an appetite for Jesus and to illuminate the way for a world to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Jeffrey Dean Smith is a husband, father to Bailey & Brynnan, author, and the Senior Pastor at Donelson First in Nashville, TN. If you are in Music City, meet Jeffrey and enjoy iced tea on the front lawn each Sunday at 10:30a.