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Not chronological order - not Matthew's purpose.
  Grouped - early life , teachings, miracles, parables, last days.

No one does a better job of making these beatitudes more personable than Jim Woodruff. (Summer 1987.)

"Eight Beatitudes For a Good Marriage"
Matthew 5:2-10
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .
       "I was wrong."
  • Blessed are they that mourn . . .
       "I am sorry."
  • Blessed are the meek . . .
       "Let's do what's best for you."
  • Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness . . .
       "Let's do what is right, regardless."
  • Blessed are the merciful . . .
       "I forgive you."
  • Blessed are the pure in heart . . .
       "I love you only, and I trust you completely."
  • Blessed are the peacemakers . . .
       "Let me be the first to make up."
  • Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake . . .
       "I will make allowance for your bad day."
Jim Woodruff

"Happiness" - Blessing - is a by-product of service to others.

Skip down to verses 17ff.
  Jesus says He has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.
  "You have heard it said to the men of old . . ." (Quotes).
  Is He quoting Old Testament scriptures here? Sort of.

Pharisees were legalistic.
  Had the right heritage to be in God's good grace.
  THEREFORE all they had to do was follow the "letter of the law." --righteous.
  Failed to read the entire law and capture the SPIRIT of the law.
  Had mixed Old Testament law with pagan ideas of justice.
  Rabbis had written these "intermixed interpretations" into their own writings that the Jews looked upon as sort of sacred also.

For Instance:

  1. Thought they had grounds to get angry and insult anyone as long as they didn't kill the person. Jesus reminds them with their own scriptures that their sacrifice will not be effective with that kind of attitude. Old Testament didn't support the Pharisee's attitude at all.

  2. On adultery. Prevalent thought on adultery was that no sin was committed until the sexual act was committed. Must be okay to lust. Jesus corrects them and says that's not what God had in mind. Jesus provides that correct interpretation and understanding of what had always been the heart of the moral law on adultery even in the Old Testament. "I meant for your hearts to be pure."

  3. Oaths. Jews had oath-taking down to a science. Okay to lie if you took an oath by the right thing.
      "If I swear by the temple - okay to lie; if by temple gold - not okay to lie."
      "If I swear by the altar - okay to lie; if by sacrifice - not okay to lie."
      Jesus comes saying "No" - Be honest always.

  4. Eye for Eye. Jews thought "I have the RIGHT TO REVENGE!"
      "No, you don't," Jesus said. "You missed the message. When I read Moses, I find it says the law of retaliation is directed to the courts -- because GOD VALUES HUMAN LIFE SO HIGHLY." Set up as a deterrent and for protection. It was to be administered remorsefully. It was not a license for vigilantes.

  5. Love your neighbor. Jews knew they had scriptural grounds for loving their neighbor. Leviticus 19. Their FAULTY REASONING said, "If I am to love my neighbor, then I'm suppose to hate my enemy." Not what Moses wrote. In fact, verses 33 and 34 say, "when a stranger sojourns among you [they hated strangers--strangers not their neighbor], you shall love him as yourself." Who wanted to read that verse? Pharisees didn't.

Forward in Mike Cope's book Righteousness Inside Out is an interesting illustration for these Pharisees.
  Man whose car running poorly. Takes it to the mechanic.
  Mechanic says, "Needs a new wax job." Doesn't run.
  Mechanic says, "Needs a new paint job." Doesn't run.
  Needs new tires, fender, new roof.
Who would be so silly? Add zest to the outside, but did nothing to put zip to the inside.

This is what the Pharisees were doing - polishing up their righteous outside, religiously, ceremoniously. But that wasn't going to get them anywhere. That was not where the problem was.

They had legally tried to follow their own interpretation of the law without changing their hearts. Inside, they were just like the pagans around them. They had their RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE WRONG PLACE. Their righteousness was all on the outside and not inside. Jesus is telling them, "You'd better look at what the entire law says and what God is trying to tell you. LET ME CHANGE YOUR HEART."

What did the law say, what did it mean? Paul had a good grasp of the idea. Romans 12:1-2, especially verse 2. Transformed. I hope Matthew got to read Paul's letter to the Roman church. Matthew--tax collector--hated by all, loved by none. He would have jumped for joy and said, "Yes, Paul, it is so wonderful to be transformed and to get your mind off of this world and to have your mind renewed and in harmony with God's will."

Consider verses 9-21. I think Paul had heard of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, don't you? Matthew wrote his gospel after Paul wrote this letter to Rome, but Paul knew the essence of Christ's message.

What happens after you are transformed? You become "poor in Spirit" - not relying on your own merits - Jesus alone can bring you to God.
Become "Meek" -not wimpy - control of the raging powers within - God controls. Start hungering and thirsting for righteousness. When you're transformed you are merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker. When it is time for mourning and persecution - there is a comfort and promise beyond description for you, because you have the mind of Christ.

Did Jesus ever expound on these beatitudes to His disciples? Seeming paradox. Maybe so, maybe not. If not, after His death, burial and resurrection the apostles may have thought back on His teachings, this sermon and said, "OH! His whole life was a commentary on these beatitudes. He was meek, poor in spirit, hungered and thirsted for righteousness, etc. He went through it all."

We can reason, so if I change - be transformed by the renewal of my mind, I'm gonna have the same thoughts, the same attitude (1 Peter 4:1) that Jesus had. Those attitudes will be my attitudes. Be - attitude. They are to BE our ATTITUDES toward life.

So what difference will all that make? PRESENT TENSE, NOT FUTURE TENSE. You are the salt of the earth. When salt is missing, it is noticed. That salt will preserve goodness, curb corruption and enhance the flavor of the world.

Be the light of the world.

Story from Max Lucado's God Came Near, "Light of the . . . Storage Closet?", p. 113. (Short, lite, apply yourself.) Four candles wouldn't leave the storage room to light the house. First said he needed "more preparation." Second was busy "meditating on the importance of light." The third was waiting to get his "life together." The fourth said, "lighting the darkness is not my gift." . . . Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light, but refusing to come out of the closet. Absurd.

Jeannie Cole

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Ladies Bible Class, Fall 1990

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