Who Are the Blessed Ones?

 

Empty tomb
Empty tomb with three crosses on a hil lside.

Every November 1st  we stop and give thanks to God for all the Saints (Christians who have died in the faith) who have gone before us.  For all those special people that He put in our lives; mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and friends.  All those people that were witnesses to us.  We are here to honor them for their walk with God and to thank God for sending us such a great cloud of witnesses.  The sermon theme for today is “Blessed are they.”  We are not here to glorify their accomplishments or lift them up because these saints were particularly kind and good people.  We give thanks to God for them because they have run the good race, they have fought the good fight, they ran the race with perseverance, and now they have won the prize.  No more struggle with the flesh, no more pain and tears for these people, they are in our Fathers house, they are at peace.  So “Blessed are they” because they have obtained eternal life.  They have crossed over from death to life.  Their struggle is over, and they won a crown of righteousness, and we thank God for them.

Today we will look at one of the most famous sermons ever written,   the Sermon on the Mount.  We will look at the opening section of this sermon, a section called the Beatitudes. Have you ever wondered what the term, “Blessed” means? This morning it is my hope that you will leave this morning with a deeper understanding and appreciation for this section of Scripture.

The first thing we discover about the Beatitudes is that it is in direct contradiction to everything the world lifts up and values. The first line of the sermon says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  I always thought the God want us to be strong in our faith.  I was always under the impression that “poor in spirit” meant weak in faith.  So, what we have here is an apparent contradiction to what we have always thought.  Something seems amiss here, but we will come back to this.

Let’s move down to the third verse, “Blessed are the meek.”  I don’t know about you but where I come from the meek were not blessed.  The word meek is an adjective and describes a person who is willing to go along with whatever other people want to do, like a meek classmate who won’t speak up, even when he or she is treated unfairly. A meek person can also be humble, but these words aren’t quite synonyms.

When I was in school and growing up in some not nice neighborhoods, It was the meek people who got picked on, pushed around, pulled down, and picked at.  There was nothing fun about being considered meek.  That poor soul wouldn’t even get sympathy from their parents.  When I was growing up, if I got beat up by someone and didn’t fight back I would probably get another beating when I got home.  And quoting this verse would not have stopped the beating.  You have to be strong to survive in this world, don’t you?  So, what are we missing in this text?  Was Jesus simply out of touch with reality?  Obvious this text must be wrong, please?  Name me one successful meek and lowly person.  You can’t think of one, can you?  We are taught from the time we can sit up straight that, “Only the strong survive.”  All good leaders are strong and decisive, right?  I have heard neither candidate in this election or any others before say, “Vote for me I am meek and humble.”  That might be a welcome shift.  If you look at this text from man’s perspectives, all of these 11 verses are a contradiction.  In today’s world, these are not the keys to success, “poor in spirit,” “mournful,” “meek,” “merciful,” and “pure in heart.”  Let’s be honest these are not qualities we strive for in the world.  But that is from humanities’ perspective.  We need to look at these from God’s perspective.

To us as humans these things make absolutely no sense, but let’s reexamine them again for God’s perspective.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”   This verse is communicating that the Christian who realizes he needs a Savior is blessed.  “Poor in spirit” does not indicate that your faith is poor or lacking depth.  “Poor in spirit” is the condition that yours and my spirit is in.

There was this patient who went into the doctor’s office and sat down and said, “Okay, Doc here I am cured me.”  The doctor looked at him and said, “What is the problem?”  And the patient said, “How should I know you’re the doctor.”  And the doctor said, “How can I help you if you won’t let me help you and believe me, you do need help!”

We, like this patient, need help.  The human soul is “poor in spirit” because we are sinners.  Sin separates us from God. Paul helps destroy any illusions we have that somehow we are excluded from that claim in Romans 3, “…as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.’” Romans 3:10-11.  Armed with this grim understanding, we realize that we need help.  Being poor in spirit is just the opposite of being spiritually proud and self-sufficient.  As Christians, we are well aware of the spiritual truth that we can’t save ourselves.  We are spiritually unable to stand before a just and holy God.  Thus, Christ comes to the rescue.  Christ stood in the gap for us.  He took the full weight of our sins upon Himself.  And Jesus gave His life as a ransom for the world.

Now, what about the meek?  To be meek does not mean that we are weak and tired looking or a push over.  Meek has nothing to do with human contact with others.  In our text for today, Christ uses the term meek to refer to the way we come before God – in humility.  It is man’s attitude toward God, not our strength or lack thereof in the world.  We, as fallen humanity, approach the Almighty and All-powerful God with only one appropriate posture, prostrate before him.  We enter into God’s presence with humble obedience.  We have no room to brag or boast before this God.  He is all-powerful; he is all knowing, omnipresent, omniscient, holy, and perfect.  We are weak, lowly, mistake prone, easily distracted, mean, hurtful, selfish, self-seeking and imperfect.  We are stained with sin and have nothing to be proud about. So, the only way we can approach this God is humble.  But this is not a bad thing.  Our text tells us that “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  There is a big reward for being humble. There is a heavenly reward for understanding your place in the cosmos.

With all these passages, there is a reward for walking in the way God our Father has laid out for us.  Let’s look at some of them.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst

for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers

for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted

because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

 

God shows us that the cost of following Him is great, but great also is the reward.  When you put your hand in the master’s hand, he will not disappoint you.  Blessed are we who follow in His footsteps.

Finally let’s look at what it means when our texts say, “Blessed.”  The word “blessed” is not describing a certain condition nor is it a description of a present state, but it is a judgment.  What this means is that the Beatitudes are not a place we are trying to get to.  We cannot become “poor in spirit” or “pure of heart” these are conditions that God has given to us.  Jesus describes our spiritual condition as Christians.  The good news is that you don’t have to work at it to get to this point.  You are declared those things by the one who created you. God has declared us to be “poor in Spirit,” “meek,” “hungering for righteousness,” but more important than our condition; God has also declared us to be blessed.  While we are, all those things listed. Therefore, we are blessed.  Or to put it in another way.  Happy are the poor in spirit.  Happy and Blessed are we because we will inherit eternal life.  We are sons and daughters of God because we have faith in Jesus Christ and we live our lives in the shadow of God’s grace.

So back to our theme, “Blessed are they” that have gone on before us.  Those that walked with God by faith, for they inherited eternal life.  But also blessed are we, because Christ has paid the price for our sins and we too shall one day be reunited with him.  “Blessed is he that walks by faith in Christ Jesus for he shall inherit the earth, he shall be filled, he shall be shown mercy, he shall see God, he shall be called sons of God, his is the kingdom of heaven.”  Blessed are we that fight the good fight here on earth, blessed are we that run the race with perseverance, blessed are we stand firm in the faith for great is our reward in heaven.  Today remember the theme, “Blessed are we.”

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