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Archive for February 12th, 2010

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“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 sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My fellow Pilgrims,

In my previous posting I shared with you my thoughts on the Beatitudes in general and how the First Beatitude is the doorway to the others. I also indicated in my reflections as to how the Beatitudes represent the work of the Holy Spirit in us in bringing us into conformity to image of Christ and, how, by coming to a deeper understanding of the Beatitudes, we can gauge our progress on our walk of discipleship with Jesus.

The first Beatitude or Manifest Favor of God in our lives opens the door to the Kingdom by bringing us to an awareness of our total spiritual bankruptcy or poverty. This usually is initiated through a state of brokenness in our lives that permits the Holy Spirit to break into the hard shell of our self-centeredness and pride. This opens the way for the seed of Word of God’s Love may be planted in our broken hearts to bear fruit to salvation and thus permit us to enter into our inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

The Second Beatitude – “Blessed are those who mourn …

” The brokenness initiated by the First Beatitude, forces us to confront our sin, its consequences, and our inability to change ourselves. But more importantly, the Word of His Love, coming to meet us in our brokenness convicts our heart because now we also realize that it is our rebellious nature that has separated us from His Love – Love that He has manifested so generously on the cross.

Upon realizing who it is our sin has offended, we, in our desperation, drop all our worldly intellectual pretenses and in sorrow, turn our hearts to the One who Loves us, and who, in spite of our sin and has been working to draw us to Himself. Just as the Apostle Peter who, despite his fleshly claim that He would never betray Him, denied the Lord Jesus three times, and was later drawn into Godly Sorrow, a sorrow that is called “Godly” because it led him to repentance, having received the promise of forgiveness from Jesus beforehand.

So the Second Beatitude, then, is a reminder to us that this Holy Mourning we have entered into is a blessing because instead of condemnation, we have received, through His Word, the comforting promise of forgiveness, pending our repentance.

The Third Beatitude – “Blessed are the meek …

” The term “meek” sometimes causes misunderstanding of this Beatitude because of the many facets in the meaning of the word both in English and Greek. I will not go into its etymology here; rather, I leave that to the inquisitive reader. The point that Jesus is making here, however, is not that we are to be pushovers or people who lack resolve in their lives. On the contrary His use of the word is to indicate a meaning of meekness that sometimes escapes us because we usually do not find any models of this type of meekness in our world today.

In order to understand Jesus’ use of the word “meek” we should use Jesus himself as our model. Scripture abound with descriptions of the type of meekness that Jesus modeled for us. But the one that impacts me the most was that written by the Apostle Paul:

“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:4-8)

This then is the type of meekness that is indicated by this Beatitude – and its main characteristic is obedience to the Father, obedience to the point of dying to ourselves. And it this is the type of meekness we are called to take on as disciples – even though we may not conceive that we are capable of reaching this level of commitment. Yet He does not mean for us to make that as something that comes through our achievement, rather, that the blessing comes through the work of the Holy spirit in us – who with the empowerment of His grace provides us the strength to enter into this type of meekness – as He forms us into the image of Christ.

We receive the blessings of “meekness” when we transition from accepting Jesus as “Savior” and make the decision to make Him the Lord of our lives – submitting to Him and the Father in total obedience to His will in our lives. By giving ourselves in Loving obedience, He then is able to work His Grace in us to bring out the quality of character corresponding to His image in us. Praised be His Holy Name!

The Fourth Beatitude – “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, …”

As we continue our cooperation with the Spirit of Love by yielding completely to the Divine Grace and Love that has overwhelmed us, He now brings us to the point where we are established in an intimate relationship with the Father. The reconciliation with the Father which was bought through Blood of Jesus is now made fully effective in us and the hunger and thirst for that reconciliation which was moving in us to this point is now completely satisfied and we become aware that we are now living as a new creation in Christ – as Sons and Daughters and heirs of the Kingdom – with a spiritual and personal knowledge of Jesus and, through Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. It is as the Apostle Paul tells us,

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5: 16-21)

It is in Him and only in Him, that is in Jesus, that our thirst to be set right or reconciled with God is completely satisfied! In fact, in Jesus, we become the very righteousness of God – that, indeed, is full satisfaction of our hunger and our thirst!

The Fifth Beatitude – “Blessed are merciful, …”

Of course, once we understand the love and mercy that we have received, our loving response, in the Spirit, is to manifest that same love and mercy to those around us.

In receiving the Grace reconciliation with the Father, we instinctively understand that we are called to be ambassadors for Christ and have been given the ministry of mercy and reconciliation. We cannot remain in harmony with our calling and our new creation in Christ if we do not also manifest His mercy in our lives by forgiving others as we have been forgiven. For how else can we be ministers of reconciliation with the Father if we hold un-forgiveness and bitterness towards others in our hearts?

Thus, the transformation wrought in us by our acceptance of the reconciliation won by Christ obliges us to be ministers of this same reconciliation to others. Before we can come into the Father’s presence, as implied by the next Beatitude, we must be first reconciled to our brothers and sisters just as Jesus tells us,

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt. 5:23-24)

Comments on this portion

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I consider the Beatitudes discussed above as the “Conversion Beatitudes” because they represent the work the Holy Spirit does in us in bringing us into a living and intimate relationship with Jesus. Without such a living working, relationship with the Him, we cannot go further on our walk of discipleship.

Many of us, including myself, spend a lot of time in this phase, especially in the mercy and reconciliation part, because of the personal baggage we hang onto that must be disposed of before we can proceed to the next phase in the Beatitudes.

In entering the next phase we must understand that, although our salvation is assured through our faith in the Son of God and our relationship with Him, we cannot complete the purpose for which we have been called to discipleship unless we also permit the Spirit of Jesus to work in us and through us to reach others IN HIS NAME so that His Kingdom of Love is manifested through us, even to the point of dying for Him and for His Kingdom.

In my next sharing I will comment on the remaining Beatitudes that await us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this work of Grace, His School of Discipleship. I call these beatitudes the “Expression Beatitudes” because when we reach this level our surrender to His Grace is so complete that our lives become an expression of Jesus living through us. So that, we may truly say as Paul says,

“ ..and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)

May the Spirit of Love and Mercy fill your hearts as you continue cooperating with His Love and His Grace. … Bartimaeus

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Related Links:

Reflections on The Beatitudes (Part 1)

“I Then Shall Live  as one who’s been Forgiven”

“I Surrender All”

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

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