Christ Jesus, teaching His disciples as they sat on the side of a mountain, began, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Christ chose the word ‘blessed’ to show us the true character of Christian happiness. However, it more than just being happy, as one who has received a beneficial gift. Christ is saying that all of His chosen disciples, all true Christians, have obtained a divine character. The Christian is one in whom Christ dwells. Circumstance may make a Christian happy, but the indwelling Spirit of Christ is what gives the Child of God a true sense of satisfaction, of well being. “The soul bathes itself and is laid, as it were, a-steeping in the water of life. The river of paradise overflowed and empties its silver streams into the souls of the blessed” (Thomas Watson). In Christ we know the meaning of David’s words, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:7–9).
Our response to the ‘Beatitudes’ should be that of David, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psa. 17:15). For in these teachings of Christ we see the righteous character of the Christian, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
Thus the righteous character of the Christian is revealed as the Lord teaches us: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Christian must be poor in spirit in order to receive the benefits of the grace of God. The character of the Christian is one of poverty, because the Christian depends wholly upon the lovingkindness of Christ their Savior. However, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” The Christian is one who loses his life for Christ, then gains it more abundantly. ‘Heaven’ is the presence of God. ‘Kingdom’ is the triumphant rule of God over all.
“Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” When we first come to the Father, we come with the conviction that we are sinners. Mourning for our sins leads us to the Cross of Calvary and the joy of redemption and forgiveness. Mourning prepares the heart for worship, for prayer, and for fellowship with our Father in heaven. It humbles us before our Creator who alone is our Savior. Within this new nature is the blessedness of comfort. Mourning for our sins is turned into joy. Comfort comes from the indwelling Spirit of Christ, who has been given to us by the Father and by the Son.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–25). Meekness is the strength of having a Christ like nature. Notice how each characteristic of the Christian nature follows quite naturally: If you know that you are poor in spirit and fully in need of God, and if you know that you are a sinner in need of grace, and mourn over your sin to repentance, then you will know what it means to be meek, to accept yourself without pride. The earth belongs to those who belong to Christ.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” This quality or trait of a Christian reminds us of our greatest desire. The Christian has been given a cavity which cries out to be filled. The child of the King has kingdom desires. He does not desire the things of this world but the things of the kingdom of God. In fact, this new nature which is given to us has an insatiable desire. We will always seek after righteousness. This hunger drives us to His Word in study and praise. Those who are of Christ, hunger and thirst after that standard: the righteousness which God has commanded of His children. There is the filling of the Holy Spirit, of peace and joy. There is the filling of the word of God, of His law, of His love, of our love for one another, of grace in time of need.
“Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” How inwardly happy are the merciful. That unconditional love which the Father gives us in the Son overflows in our mercy and kindness toward others. Our compassion for one another reveals the compassion that God has for us. For our Lord has shown us “what is good, and (what the Lord requires of us) …to do justly, and to love mercy,” and to walk with our God (Micah 6:8). The Spirit has given us a new nature that is able to be merciful.
“Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” The Christian has been set apart in the image of God, in righteousness, truth, and justice. Thus, each child of God is pure in heart. By faith we see God. By His hand we are kept in His love. God’s forgiveness in Christ purifies our souls. Our daily prayer is that of David, “Make me hear joy and gladness …Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me …Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit” (Psa. 51).
“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” The ‘peacemaker’ is one who brings that peace which Christ alone can give, which He accomplished on the cross through His blood. We experience this redemptive gift through faith and repentance knowing the Father’s forgiveness for our trespasses and sins. This word is only found in this verse. Having received the peace of God through Christ, we seek to be peacemakers through His Gospel. How happy we are to proclaim such a gift.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Our blessedness or happiness is of our nature, redeemed by Christ. We are owned by God, adopted into His household. No persecution or tribulation can separate us from the Love of God. God’s provision for our perseverance is greater than the world’s torment. To be persecuted for the righteousness of Christ is the greatest witness to our blessedness in Him. Our reward is in His kingdom of which we are loyal subjects.
From the inward nature of the Christ flows a light which cannot be hidden under a basket. We are the salt which never loses its taste. Christ had called upon His disciples to be, and to act, according to their new redeemed nature. Having been so blessed they are to present themselves as the salt and light to the world in which they live. If their salt has lost their flavor, “It is thenceforth good for nothing.” The oil of the lamp is that Christ like nature (Col. 3:10) given in the gift of salvation. The wick is that life which is lit with the light of the Spirit of Christ. Shall we hide it so that we even stumble in this world? Should we not show strength in time of crisis?
How do we know that we are being the salt and light in the world? What are we to do? Christ teaches us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” To ‘glorify’ is to acknowledge, esteem, to recognize and honor the Father. Therefore to glorify the Father in our good works is to, by word and deed, show the Father as He is revealed, taught, in His Holy Scriptures; doing “all in the name (person) of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17; 12–15).
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