We are going to begin the new year, not with telling you ways to make yourself better, how to get the girl you want, or any other new years resolution. I think it is perfectly fine to have those resolutions and perfectly fine for you to want to change something about yourself or just better yourself. However, as you guys know our goals at United are much bigger than self improvement, we do not come here to get self help advice or to get tips and tricks on life. No, rather we come to United to hear the word of God proclaimed, to worship the Holy Triune God, and to spend time fellowshipping with other believers, all in a pursuit to grow closer to our heavenly father.
This sermon is likely a collection of Jesus sermons that Matthew decided to put all together when he was writing his gospel. These collections of sayings and teaching all focus broadly on discipleship and the practical outworking of one's faith and mission in the face of a sinful world. This “sermon” is marked with sayings that outline the perfection required by the Lord of his people. Therefore, our goal is to meet these outlines displayed within this sermon, but ultimately since we are unable to truly reach them, we must then turn to Jesus in worship for he did complete the things outlined within the sermon on the mount while we can only endlessly strive.
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.7
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
-Suffering for Righteousness sake
-Desire for Righteousness
-Rejoicing at Persecution
Max Lucado states in his book called “The Applause of Heaven” (As quoted by Ray Pritchard in a sermon called, “The Making of a Disciple”).
God applauds the poor in spirit.
He cheers the mourners.
He favors the meek.
He smiles upon the hungry.
He honors the merciful.
He welcomes the pure in heart.
He claps for the peacemakers.
He rises to greet the persecuted.
Jesus makes it clear that humility is the marker for a faithful believer. Humility is often seen as a useless platitude shown disingenuously by prideful men who are attempting to make others see them as virtuous. The humility discussed here in the beatitudes is sourced from a broken heart. It is sourced from an understanding that you and I deserve nothing in this life but eternal punishment. It robs us of all entitlement, pompous, and ego. However, you cannot just choose to be humble one day as that itself is a prideful decision. You must go to the root, which is understanding the reality that you deserve nothing. It is not about making the decision to be humble, it is about removing the potential of pride.
We must be mournful, over our sin, others sin, the state of the world, etc. I know oftentimes we are not wanting to see ourselves as mournful people and oftentimes we now only mourn at physical loss. Let me change your mind about mourning as mourning was commonplace during the biblical times and many even became professional mourners. Mourning is not something only to be done at the loss of a loved one, mourning is a heart position that leads into a physical position. Our hearts should mourn over the sin of our hands and over the sinfulness of the world. While we are happy and joyful that we have been saved by grace through faith, we must also understand there is a deep mournfulness that must be evident as we wrestle with our own sin and the sins of the world knowing that our sin is what nailed Christ to the Cross. We must be broken with that truth and allow the gospel to bring us joy in the mourning.
Peacemakers are few and far between. To make peace in this world is already difficult and being a believer makes it 10 times harder. Why? Because everything is your enemy, the world is seeking to destroy everything you believe in and everything you love and care for. How can we then make peace with such a destructive and evil enemy? We must do it with the idea and understanding that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are the ambassadors of the faith and if we decide the Earth and the lost people within it are just too far gone, then we are indirectly telling them that God no longer cares for them and has no interest in saving them
However, let me explain to you that persecution is coming to the west. It is coming much quicker than many of you can imagine. When I was younger in the early 2000s this intense devolution of civil society was only beginning, and now just 20 years later, we are seeing the complete collapse of rationality. Men are no longer men and women are no longer women, sexual promiscuity is not only celebrated by considered normal and encouraged, the term “test drive” has become a standard practice in our society. All the things displayed as wrong or evil in the Lord’s sight are stated to be right in the world's eyes and it is now reached “over the pond” into the US. Now I am not attempting to scare you, I am attempting to show to you all the need for the attitudes expressed within Matthew 5. To hear Jesus’ words and exercise them just as you would a muscle. Practice the desire for righteousness, turn your eyes and minds away from depravity and toward righteousness in this new year. We must learn to practice humility, not by faking it and faking piety, but rather understanding our place and constantly reminding ourselves that everything we have has been given to us by the Lord! We must learn to practice purity by turning away from the things of this world that would seek to corrupt us whether that be sexually, mentally, physically or all three.
Finally, I want to encourage you tonight and hopefully throughout this year with this simple truth. A life lived in pursuit of holiness is a life worth living. In the final verse of this section Jesus states that those who pursue holiness through the persecution will be rewarded greatly in heaven when we get to see him face to face! All of our struggles that we went through to live a righteous and holy life will all be worth it when we see our savior face-to-face! So go this week and this year and remember these beatitudes and strive to see all of them evident in your life, not for your own glory but to bring glory to Jesus as he deserves all of the glory.