Andy Stanley Here’s what the Jerusalem Council was saying to the Gentiles: “You’re not accountable to the 10 Commandments. You’re not accountable to the Jewish Law. We’re done with that. God has done something new…Thou shalt not obey the 10 Commandments because those aren’t your commandments.”
Likewise, many have questioned the relevance of the Sermon on the Mount. Does Jesus reenforce Old Testament law, or does he “unhitch” it from his teaching?
After selecting apostles > teaching and healing. If God can heal, why do we suffer? Why are we left in such distressing circumstances?
Read Luke 6:20-23
Blessed Are The Poor (20)
This sermon was specifically for Jesus’ disciples, not the world. These promises apply to believers. Jesus is seeking to encourage them.
Poor financially, morally, spiritually? Matthew: “poor in spirit.” Jesus is primarily thinking spiritually.
He is fulfilling Isa. 61:1-2 (cf. 4:18). However, Luke has shown a special concern for the economically impoverished (1:48; 7:22; 14:13; 16:19-30). The spiritual benefits are what make physical poverty bearable.
Christianity gives hope to the poor (James 2:5). Your poverty causes you to value the Kingdom of God. Keeping a view on your eternal inheritance brightens your present conditions.
Those who are poor are often hungry…
Blessed Are The Hungry (21a)
Matthew’s Gospel provides a spiritual perspective again: “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Psalm 107:5-9). The physically hungry illustrate a desire for righteousness by looking to God for provision. Physical simulates spiritual.
The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment vividly teaches the value of delayed gratification. Children could have one marshmallow immediately or they could have two if they waited 15mins. The third who waited proved to be more successful (Education, Health, etc.).
Jesus teaches delayed gratification here. The satisfaction that awaits is far superior to the food they lack now. If they could persevere through their hunger pains they would be rewarded at the marriage supper of the Lamb!
Poor > Hungry…
Blessed Are The Sad (21b)
Paradox: Happy are the sad. This is probably related to the following beatitude with an emphasis upon unjust suffering. The source of their joy is found in God alone and secured for eternity!
Old Testament saints enjoyed this reality too. The return from exile was viewed as the restoration of joy (Psalm 126). But there was also a Messianic angle to this promise (Isa. 61:3). Clearly, Jesus fulfills the Old Testament.
Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). He wept that Jerusalem rejected him. The joy set before him caused Jesus to endure the cross, despising the shame (Heb. 12:2).
Poor > Hungry > Sad…
Blessed Are The Persecuted (22-23)
Jesus is specifically concerned with religious persecution. Christians will suffer because of their faith in Jesus. It is counter-cultural to shun popularity. Again, this is preparation for eternity (Rom. 5:3-5).
The persecution of the prophets was frequently portrayed in the Old Testament (Neh. 9:26) and finds its climax in the rejection of Jesus (4:24, 29). The fact that Jesus connects them here would’ve enraged his opponents.
Jesus qualifies each of the reason for being unpopular. Some people are unpopular for good reasons! It is the persecuted believer’s union with Christ that gives him the strength to endure (2 Tim. 2:11-13; 3:12).
The Lord’s favor is upon those whose eternal reward far outweighs their present pain. A feeling of happiness is not in view, but the presence of God’s favor. “Blessed” is a much richer word than happiness. The “reward” is not earned by the recipients but promised, and ultimately given, as a free gift.
- The poor have the Kingdom of God!
- The hungry shall be satisfied!
- Those who weep will laugh with great joy!
- Those who are persecuted for Christ’s sake will rejoice for all eternity!
These are the promises Jesus has secured for you, if you are his disciple.