Matthew

Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes and the Gospel of the Kingdom

The Beatitudes and the Gospel of the Kingdom

Notes from John Piper

Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“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 satisfied.
“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.
“Blessed are you when men reviled you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil
against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Start 8-week series on the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12. Our focus today has to be on the group as a whole in the wider context of Jesus’ ministry.

Q’s >          –   What are these beatitudes?

–         Do they spell out conditions we must meet in order to inherit eternal life?

–         Do they celebrate the power of God in the life of

the disciples?

–   Could it be both?  ……How do we know?

Begin with our lens open more widely than just the beatitudes. Then we will narrow it down to each beatitude in weeks to come.

 

NB – Matthew 4:23 is a summary statement of Jesus’ earthly ministry: “And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.”

To put it another way, Jesus made it his ministry to preach the coming of the kingdom, teach the way of the kingdom, and demonstrate the purpose and power of the kingdom by healing the sick. Preaching, teaching and miracles.

 

Then in Matthew 9:35. Almost verbatim we find the same summary: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.”

 

What we see between these two summaries are two major sections: chapters 5-7 – a collection of Jesus’ teaching called the sermon on the Mount; and chapters 8 – 9 – a collection of stories mainly about his healing ministry.

So we have is a five chapter unit designed by Matthew to present us first with some typical teaching of the Lord concerning the way of the kingdom, and second with some typical miracles to demonstrate the power of the kingdom.

 

 

 

5 teaching blocks in Matthew’s Gospel.

The Ethics of the Kingdom.

Ch.5-7. Sermon on Mt.

1)   –  7:28  When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,

 

The Power of the Kingdom.

ch. 8-10. Miracle stories [mainly].

2) –  11:1  After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

 

The Parables of the Kingdom. ch.13.

3) – 13:53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. (NIV)

 

The Life of the Kingdom. ch.18.

4) – 19:1  When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. (NIV)

 

The Consummation of the Kingdom.

ch.24-25. End of Age.

5) –  26:1  When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, (NIV)

 

THEN the climax in the final chapter —

Matthew 28:19-20 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

The value of seeing this is that it warns us against treating any little piece in isolation. Matthew is putting his material together in a particular way. The writers of the NT didn’t transcribe everything Jesus said BUT they wrote under the inspiration of God – That inspiration included the words, the style, the structure and the selection of what to omit/include.

 

We need to accept the whole as God’s word.

So you can’t have the Jesus of the Sermon of the Mount without the Jesus who cleansed the leper, and healed the centurion’s servant, and stilled the storm, and cast out demons.

The writer who gives us the one, gives us the other, and we can’t say, as some do, that we admire the ethical teaching of the Sermon on the Mount but we don’t want to get involved with the spooky supernatural Person who stills storms and casts out demons.

 

Or the opposite temptation – having a charismatic fascination with the miracles of Jesus but when it comes to reckoning with the One who said, “Don’t call your brother a fool, don’t lust, don’t get divorced, don’t swear, don’t return evil for evil, love your enemy”. — Well, we like the miracle worker who heals their diseases, but this radical intruder into their personal lifestyle, we are not so interested in him.

 

Matthew’s point is that the Lord who teaches like this in the Sermon on the Mount is the same Lord who calls us to follow him through life and depend upon his power. His personal work and power are inseparable from his teaching. In fact we will see right away that this is clear even in the beatitudes.

 

So let’s go to Matthew 5:1ff.

“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them saying…”

The audience is probably two concentric circles: the inner circle of the disciples, and the outer circle of the “crowds.” BUT verse 1 says that he taught his disciples. But look at the end of the sermon in Matthew 7:28,

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

 

Clearly the crowds were listening and Jesus wanted them to listen even though the sermon is primarily addressed to professing disciples.

 

That is why it is important for us to invite friends to attend our normal church activities – It is precisely the things our Lord has to say to US that can awaken desire in others to come to Christ.

Important to invite friends not just to special ‘evangelistic’ events but to regular services etc… Gospel is NOT a narrow ‘4-Spiritual Laws’ as true as those are [explain].

We do the people and the Gospel an injustice if our non-Christian friends only ever hear the narrow presentation.

The Gospel is the good news about the kingdom of God – viz. about God and his kingly rule.

 

So the sermon begins with the disciples gathered at the feet of Jesus and with the crowds listening in.

He begins by pronouncing a certain kind of person fortunate. We call these pronouncements “beatitudes” from the Latin word for ‘happiness or blessedness’.

 

There are eight beatitudes are worded in the same way.

V.11 could be viewed as a 9th one, but it is really an expansion of v.10.

 

The eight beatitudes of vv. 3-10 are a unit when you look and the 1st and the 8th.

Promise of 1st beatitude –v.3: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Promise of 8th beatitude in v.10: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Both have the identical promise, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

6 beatitudes sandwiched between are all different.

  • Verse 4: “For they will be comforted.”
  • Verse 5: “For they will inherit the earth.”
  • Verse 6: “For they will be satisfied.”
  • Verse 7: “For they will obtain mercy.”
  • Verse 8: “For they will see God.”
  • Verse 9: “For they will be called the sons of God.”

These are promises for the future. “They will

But the promise of the 1st and 8th seems to relate to the present: the disciples are assured that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

What is the meaning of this pattern?

 

ASSURANCES and PROMISES.

First, by sandwiching six promises in between two assurances that such people have the kingdom of heaven, I think Jesus means to tell us that this is what the kingdom brings: comfort, earth ownership, satisfied righteousness, mercy, a vision of God, and the awesome title, son of God. You don’t have to pick and choose among these promises. They all belong to the kingdom. That is the first implication I see in the fact that Jesus begins with the assurance, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and ends with the assurance, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” with six promises sandwiched in between.

 

PRESENT and FUTURE

The other implication of this pattern is that the first and last assurances are present tense, and the six in the middle are future. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” in vv. 3 & 10.

But in verses 4-9, “They will be comforted… They will inherit the earth…” And so on.

The kingdom of heaven is present with the disciples now (Theirs is the kingdom of heaven) but that the full blessings of the kingdom will be future (They will inherit the earth).

Jesus has brought the kingdom of heaven to earth – the king came – and we can enjoy foretastes of it here and now; but the full experience of the life of the kingdom will have to wait for the age to come.

 

EXAMPLES.

V.4 – those who mourn will one day be comforted.

As Revelation 21:4 says, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more.” Does that mean we don’t enjoy God’s comfort now? NO! BUT then fully!

 

Or v.7: It promises, “They will obtain mercy.” But in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23-35 the king says to the wicked servant, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” In other words, Jesus teaches that we do not merely wait for the age to come to receive mercy. It has come in Jesus. We taste it here and now in forgiveness of sins and innumerable blessings of this life.

 

The point is that the kingdom of heaven is both present and future. We have foretastes of the reign of God now, but we will experience vastly more in the future. I think this is why verses 3 and 10 assure us that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But verses 4-9 promise that the kingdom blessings are still in the future. It is both.

 

This is one of the most important things you can learn about the Christian faith. Without this insight the Sermon on the Mount simply won’t make sense.

V.7 says, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Does this mean that God withholds his mercy until the future day of reckoning and waits to see if we will be merciful enough to earn his mercy? That is what it looks like in isolation.

But if you know the good news of the kingdom you  already know that our becoming merciful is (right now!) a work of God’s kingly mercy. That is the point of Matthew 18:33 — The king said “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” God’s prior mercy enables us to be merciful. The powerful mercy of the Kingdom has already come in Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

The beatitudes are an announcement of how fortunate people are who already experience the power of the kingdom. That’s why such people are blessed

To be blessed as the bible defines it is to ‘be accepted and thought well of” by God – this comes only through faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour à Blessed! And fortunate are you who have the kingdom power at work within you, for you will inherit the kingdom with all its infinite pleasures for ever and ever.” The beatitudes are announcements that people like this are very blessed, very fortunate.

 

CELEBRATION AND INVITATION.

The disciples sit at Jesus’ feet and hear his words as congratulations. “O how fortunate you are, my dear brothers! O how fortunate you are to be chosen of God, to have your eyes opened, to be drawn to the Saviour, to be poor and mourning and meek and hungry and merciful and pure and peaceable! Rejoice! Rejoice and give thanks, my beloved disciples, that you are this kind of person, for it is not your own doing! It is the reign of God in your life.”

So the disciples hear the beatitudes as words of celebration about the work of God in their lives. Those who know Jesus as Lord and Saviour and are part of God’s kingdom are blessed because this is what we are in Christ. BUT it is also what we are becoming as we daily strive to be like Jesus. à thus they are also words of Challenge.

 

What about the crowds standing behind the disciples? How do they hear these words of celebration? The beatitudes also contain an implicit invitation to become this kind of person.

If they see the disciples being promised the blessings of eternal life because they are poor in spirit and mourning and meek and hungry for righteousness and merciful and pure and peaceable, don’t those words of promise beckon them to become that kind of person?

Isn’t that why in the verses after the Beatitudes Jesus tells the disciples “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”?

They way to bring God glory is to submit to his kingly rule and when a person does that they enjoy now, and will enjoy in the future, the ‘Blessedness’ describe by the Beatitudes

 

So the beatitudes are words of celebration for disciples — people who have been awakened by the present power of the age to come. And they are words of invitation for the crowds — the people who come to worship out of tradition or curiosity or scepticism. And for some they are words of transformation — by the power and mercy of God.

 

So the beatitudes describe those who are part of God’s Kingdom AND it also describes what they should be aspiring to become.

 

 

Matthew 5:3-10 – BEATITUDES

 

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

 

5 Blessed are the meek,  

for they will inherit the earth.

 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for

righteousness,

            for they will be filled.

 

7 Blessed are the merciful,   

for they will be shown mercy.

 

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

 

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted

because of righteousness,       

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


5 teaching blocks in Matthew’s Gospel.

 

The Ethics of the Kingdom.

Ch.5-7. Sermon on Mt.

1)        –  7:28  When Jesus had finished saying these things …

 

The Power of the Kingdom.

ch. 8-10. Miracle stories [mainly].

2) –  11:1  After [When] Jesus had finished

instructing his twelve disciples …

 

The Parables of the Kingdom. ch.13.

3)  – 13:53 When Jesus had finished these

parables

 

The Life of the Kingdom. ch.18.

4)        – 19:1  When Jesus had finished saying these

things …

 

The Consummation of the Kingdom.

ch.24-25. End of  the Age.

5)        –  26:1  When Jesus had finished saying all

these things …

 

THEN the climax in the final chapter —

28:19-20 19 … go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them …, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ….” 

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