‘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 receive 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 others revile 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 they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”‘
The Right Attitude
The Beatitudes have also been called the ‘Attitudes of the Kingdom’ and the ‘Beautiful Attitudes’. We are all aware of the importance of mental attitude in athletes competing in high level sporting events. Soldiers endure rigorous training not only to acquire skills for combat but also to develop the right attitudes of toughness, endurance and sacrifice before they go into battle. The right attitude often makes all the difference between success and failure in any endeavour. It is not surprising then that Jesus chose to begin His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ by laying out the beatitudes.
The Sermon on the Mount – Christ’s Kingdom Constitution
The Sermon on the Mount does not give a list of rules like the Ten Commandments that Moses gave the Israelites. All the commandments as Jesus said can be summed up in these two – ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. The sermon instead outlines the lifestyle of believers under the rule of God. It is in effect the constitution of Christ’s kingdom / government for our time.
The Beatitudes Form the ‘Heart’ of the Constitution
In contrast to any constitution set forth by modern governments, Jesus began His sermon by listing those attitudes that He expects in His followers. They show us what we must be in order to 1) demonstrate to the world who we are and 2) be successful in what we do.
The ‘Salt’ And ‘Light’ of the World
After He had laid out the 8 beatitudes, Jesus as if to explain why He had put them at the start of His sermon, said to His disciples – ‘You are the salt of the earth’ and ‘You are light of the world’.
Salt prevents corruption and decay, it also lends flavour. Light shows the way in darkness and overcomes it. Similarly Christians are meant to
1) Check the advance of evil and corruption in society and to constitute a positive element of godliness, compassion, justice and moral uprightness. 2) Show men the way out of the clutches of sin and to overcome the power of Satan over the lives of the people.
The Purpose of the Beatitudes
The beatitudes enable us to fulfil the purpose of our new birth and to be ‘salt and light’ in the world. Each of these beatitudes results in a special blessing. Matthew 5:13-16 lists 3 reasons why we need to have these attitudes:
1) So that we may not be trampled underfoot by men, that is, completely dominated by the world’s value system
2) In order that we may be ‘a city on a hill’ or a visible force in society. At this time Christians in many parts of the world are neither visible nor a force to be reckoned with, not because they are in minority, but because they lack the proper attitudes. They are ‘hidden under a bowl’ and in danger of being extinguished. How different were the early Christians who ‘turned the world upside down by their teaching’
3) So that men may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.
Therefore all Christians are meant to display all the 8 beatitudes.
Father, help us to constantly meditate and reflect these beautiful attitudes in our life. In Jesus’ name.