The Beatitudes: How to Have a Blessed Life
Jesus’ Radically Dependent Life Reproduced in His Followers
It is enough for disciples to be like their teacher and for slaves to be like their master.
As followers of Jesus, we have to know what He taught in order to know Him and follow Him. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, found in the book of Matthew (Chapters 5-7), is a great start. A religious scholar once said that nothing “…exhorts us more than this Sermon on the Mount to be what we are meant to be, and to live as we are meant to live; to be like Christ by being a complete contrast to everyone who does not belong to Christ.”
Do you want your life to stand out in radical contrast to the rest of the world? Let His teachings be your guide.
“God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 5:3)
This means we come to understand we have nothing to offer God. Jesus opened His public ministry with the command to “repent” (Matthew 4:17), and depending only on Jesus is included in this idea. This sense of spiritual poverty forms the core of all of the blessings.
“God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!” (Matthew 5:4)
Another Gospel clarifies: “God will bless you people who are crying. You will laugh!” (Luke 6:21) It may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. One day, all of the world’s kingdoms will be under Jesus’ personal rule! Injustice will be put down. Tears will be wiped away. But only those who grieve over things as they are today will be comforted.
“God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!” (Matthew 5:5)
In Philippians 2:5-11, Jesus is praised for His deep humility and obedience to His Father’s plan. Those who humble themselves after His example will be exalted (Luke 14:11) as He was.
“God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want!” (Matthew 5:6)
Jesus served God and others before His own needs (John 4:34), giving His followers an example.
“God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy!” (Matthew 5:7)
Really understanding forgiveness helps us forgive others. Those unwilling to forgive demonstrate that they have not yet been forgiven. (Matthew 18:21-35)
“God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!” (Matthew 5:8)
Jesus forgives those who trust Him. When we confess, He takes our sin away, making us fit to see Him. (1 John 1:9)
“God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children!” (Matthew 5:9)
“Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) is one of Jesus’ titles. In order to be called His children, we must be peacemakers.
“God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
Jesus goes on to personalize this blessing for those listening: “God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
When persecuted, Jesus’ followers “were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus” (Acts 5:41). As He had predicted, they were hated and mistreated just as He had been. (John 15:18-22, Matthew 10:18-25)
If anyone consistently lived this kind of life, they should be blessed by everyone, right? Who would be unkind to a humble, selfless, pure-hearted person who forgives others and is eager to obey God?
Of course we know that Jesus Himself was all these things. He was beaten, crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross to die, while a murderer was set free. So, like Jesus, we can expect mistreatment. And like His disciples, we can consider the world's mistreatment of us God's seal of approval on our lives when we live this way. The "happiness" of the Beatitudes does not come from the fickle approval of this world. It is an eternal blessedness: God's approval on our submission to His plan for our lives.
Pray this week:
Father, I see through these teachings that Jesus’ followers must have no trust in the world or its approval. I see Jesus’ example through all of these blessings, and I know that only He can make me over in His image. Be at work in me to want this more than anything else in the world. AMEN
Do you think it’s really possible to live this way? Write today for help!