Sunday 21 March 2010 – Matthew 5

Taking a break from the Psalms today, to look at some of the sayings of Jesus Himself.

Sometimes I think that there is a tendency for Christians to forget or overlook or unintentionally downplay the importance of excellent character, but it is very very clear throughout the whole Bible that God takes it very very seriously indeed.

Today’s Bible passage is taken from the famous sermon that Jesus preached on the Mount of Olives, called “The Sermon on the Mount”, or alternatively “The Beatitudes” (which a younger me would misread as the Beauty-tudes!). This passage goes beyond excellent character, as it would be generally understood, to talk about specifically Christian character traits.

Some of it can be a little difficult to understand, but for a Christian the bigger challenge is to obey the parts that you do understand.

Matthew 5v3-10
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Analysis added 21 August 2011

Matthew 5v6-8 from The Open Bible

6.Blessed are people who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
7.Blessed are merciful people, for they too will be shown mercy.
8. Blessed are people who have pure hearts, for they will see God.
This is a profound chapter of the Bible as it contains teachings directly from Jesus about character traits to pursue.  This is the chapter of the Bible where Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and I think that this is still as radical today as it was 2,000 years ago when He said it – even for people like me, who have grown up as committed followers of the Christian faith.

v6:  “Blessed are people who hunger and thirst for righteousness”.  This verse is telling us that we have to pursue righteousness and holiness as if we are hungering and thirsting after it – as if we are starving, perhaps.  I know that I have never *really* experienced hunger, and I’m sure that that is the same for many of us from comfortable backgrounds (which is essentially, everyone in the West, and many others worldwide).  However, in the time of Christ, even where there was food, people would still engage in tasking physical labour which might leave them very hungry, or very thirsty.  In the middle-eastern world where Christ lived, this would often be under a hot sun, to make things worse.  We are to pursue righteousness with that level of intensity.

Sometimes, it is so easy to identify failings and “unrighteousness” in others.  However, Jesus makes it clear that we are to check out our own selves first, to critically examine our own lives- or to “pull out the planks from our own eyes”  before we point our fingers at other people, or help them “remove the specks from their eyes”
“…..for they will be filled”  If we eagerly pursue righteousness in our lives, then Christ assures us that we will attain this righteousness that we strive for, or “we will be filled”

7.Blessed are merciful people, for they too will be shown mercy.
Christ teaches us that it is important to extend mercy towards other people, because we too will inevitably need mercy too.  Sometimes this will be from other people, but it will definitely also be from God.  In fact, in the Lord’s prayer (Chapter 6) and elsewhere in the Gospel of Matthew, we see that forgiving other people (or releasing them from anger in our hearts) is a condition of our own forgiveness from God.  I think the issue of forgiveness is a big topic, and I hope to be able to write a blog about what it might mean – or not mean –  to forgive someone in Biblical terms.  At the very least though, we do need to let go of anger in our hearts, and the “thirst” for revenge, and replace that with a thirst for righteousness instead!

8. Blessed are people who have pure hearts, for they will see God
The Bible teaches that God is absolute purity, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  So when our hearts are consumed by impurity, such as anger, greed or lust, God’s Spirit cannot remain with us, or “abide” with us. So we cannot “see” Him in the sense of relating with Him while alive down here on earth. So this is one way that we are hindered from seeing God.  Another way is that, if we do not purify our hearts and embrace a relationship with God, we will not see Him in Heaven, but will instead be able gaze as much as we like on the devil in hell.
Jesus is life, Jesus is light, Jesus is truth.  Choose Christ!  😉



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