Reading the Word
Matthew 5:3–12 (ESV)
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.
Parallel Text: Luke 6:20-26
Understanding and Applying the Word
These verses are known as The Beatitudes because each of the verses begin with the word “blessed.” The Greek word means “happy”, but we must not assume that Jesus is speaking of emotional happiness. The type of blessedness Jesus describes is one that results from being in a right relationship with God and his kingdom.
Bruce Barton, in his commentary on Matthew, suggests that Jesus’ message in The Beatitudes may become clearer if we consider their opposites. He writes:
• Wretched are the spiritually self-sufficient, for theirs is the kingdom of hell.
• Wretched are those who deny the tragedy of their sinfulness, for they will be troubled.
• Wretched are the self-centered, for they will be empty.
• Wretched are those who ceaselessly justify themselves, for their efforts will be in vain.
• Wretched are the merciless, for no mercy will be shown to them.
• Wretched are those with impure hearts, for they will not see God.
• Wretched are those who reject peace, for they will earn the title “sons of Satan.”
• Wretched are the uncommitted for convenience’s sake, for their destination is hell.
Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew
Are we among the blessed who belong to the kingdom? We do not get there on our own or by caring only about ourselves. The kingdom belongs to the poor, the mourners, the meek, those who desire righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, those who desire peace, and those who are persecuted for doing what is right in the eyes of God. May God let those words describe us.
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