The first time I heard one of the 8 beatitudes of Jesus was actually before I ever was a Christian. It was back in my rock and roll days and I remember hearing “The meek shall inherit the earth” on an album called 2112 by a band named Rush. I had no clue that they were actually quoting Jesus.
Over the years I have learned that people quote these beatitudes quite a bit and many times they quote them incorrectly or use them to try to make their own point rather than communicate what Jesus was trying to communicate. So I thought it would be appropriate to give a simple lesson on the beatitudes of Jesus and hopefully give all of you a little better understanding on what they really mean.
It is important to understand that the Beatitudes are part of a larger sermon given by Jesus called the Sermon on the Mount. This was a discourse on the law of Moses, and was meant to show all people that it was impossible to fulfill all of the law and as such, we could only come to God and ask for mercy and grace that became available through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.
What Do The Beatitudes Mean?
5 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then 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 filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain 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 they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
So let’s take a moment and go through each of these separately.
#1 Blessed are the poor in spirit. vs. 3
The poor in spirit is not an endorsement of poverty. It is an acknowledgement of our need for God in all aspects of life. It means not be have a self reliant or prideful spirit but instead to have a demeanor that always looks upon God for our providence. It is those that totally depend upon God that see the manifestation of the kingdom of God in their life. Both here on earth and eventually in heaven.
#2 Blessed are those that mourn. vs. 4
Jesus is talking about various types of mourning here. I am sure that He is talking about those that mourn over the condition of the world. I believe that He is talking about those that are grieved about the people that are not in right relationship with Him, and I believe that He is talking about mourning the loss of loved ones in our life. Jesus said that He would send the comforter, the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit would be a comfort to all of us.
#3 Blessed are the meek. vs. 5
I have heard many people misinterpret this scripture and try to make it say that it means strength. The Bible clearly states that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. The word meekness means having strength under control. That control is humility. Moses was known to be one of the meekest men in the world but that does not mean he did not have the strength to accomplish what God called him to do. The meek understand authority and willingly submit to it and live ultimately under God’s authority. Jesus said that if we wanted to be great in His kingdom then we would be servant leaders. Servant leadership is the definition of meekness.
#4 Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness. vs. 6
The word righteousness means “right standing”. They are the ones that want to see justice and reconciliation in the world. They want to see people come to right standing with each other and most importantly with God. Because they hunger and thirst for this right standing, they are always concerned about how their actions will effect their relationship with God and with other people.
#5 Blessed are the merciful. vs. 7
People who are merciful have undoubtedly received mercy in their lives. In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus asks the question as to whether or not the one who has received mercy should have shown mercy on his fellow servant. Mercy and forgiveness go hand in hand. Merciful people have the capacity to understand that “except for the grace of God go I”.
#6 Blessed are the pure in heart. vs. 8
The pure in heart are those that are unstained by the world. They have allowed the blood of Jesus to wash away all their sin and made pure once again. When you allow Jesus to purify your heart, then you are able to see God in all his beauty, splendor, and holiness. You will be like the Psalmist David when he wrote in Psalm 51. Create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a right spirit within me.
#7 Blessed are the peacemakers. vs.9
These are the ones who try to make peace. Both peace between men and the God they are at odds with and between brothers and sisters that are at odds with one another. They are the followers of the Prince of Peace who reconciled men with God. They take seriously the ministry of reconciliation. They will be called the sons of God because they are acting and following the example of Jesus.
#8 Blessed are the persecuted.
These are the people that consider it an honor to stand up for Jesus and for His teachings even in the face of the world’s scorn and ridicule. They are the ones that will say “I believe in Jesus” even when faced with death threats and beatings. In America, we do not see persecution to this extreme very often but there are people in other countries that are dying daily for our precious faith. However even in America we see persecution when people call us bigots, stupid, or Jesus freaks just because of our faith. Just be encouraged, Jesus pronounces a blessing on you every time people treat you badly because of your faith in Him.
As you can see, the 8 beatitudes both encourage us and challenge us to stretch in our faith. Just remember as you ask God to make you more like Jesus, that you are also to keep in mind that you need His grace to accomplish these teachings of Jesus. He will work it out in you in His time and His way.
Resource: The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.