In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he described eight attitudes that are worth aspiring to as followers of Christ. Critics of Jesus’ Sermon have said that these attitudes describe a weak person and that Christianity is for the weak. Yes, pretty much. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). This poverty is not economic poverty but an acknowledgment that I have nothing to offer to God but my sinful self, that nothing I have or have done entitles me to God’s heaven. That attitude makes me a candidate for God’s amazing grace. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt 5:4). This is an awareness of the awfulness of sin, my own sin and the sinfulness of humanity. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). The transformation that God does in us when we surrender our will and truly repent produces a meekness that Jesus says is blessed. Jesus’ fourth beatitude is, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt 5:6). This is an attitude that desires God’s works to be present in every aspect of life, family, business, and worship. It comes with a promise that this desire will be granted. In short, it is a hunger for God that God will not disappoint.
Each of these four attitudes Jesus’ described have to do with who we are as a person. It is the essence of what Christianity was meant to be in a person’s life. Each of them comes with an eternal promise—the kingdom of heaven, they will inherit the earth, they will be comforted, and they will be filled. There is a blessing now and in eternity.
The last four beatitudes have to do with action. They flow out of the first four. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt 5:7). God loves kindness, and it will be present in a truly broken person who loves God. It comes with the promise that they will be shown mercy. Be merciful, and it will come back to you. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt 5:8). By this point it’s clear that if there is any purity, it’s not self-generated, but it’s God generated. This is the work of grace in a sinner’s life, and because of it, they will one day see God. There is such a thing as purity, and it can only be attained by our dependence on God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9). Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker, but God wants each of us to seek peace with our family and community. When you are a peacemaker, you don’t write people off—you seek to reconcile and restore broken relationships. It comes with the promise that this will identify you as a true son or daughter of God. Finally, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). No one has ever been more persecuted than Jesus, and no one ever exercised more self-control than Jesus in response. Humanity’s model is, “You hurt me, and I will hurt you.” Jesus lived out, “You hurt me, and I will love you back.” It comes with the promise that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such people.
The description given by Jesus here in these eight beatitudes is so different than anything we are shown in our education and training. If we truly want to know and experience the Christian life—this is the way to find it and live it.