The Beatitudes

Matt Boga: This is the famous introduction to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount recorded in the Gospel of Matthew chapters 5-7.  In these 10 verses Jesus quickly flips everything that we think to be correct on its head, and beautifully offends and astonishes all readers/hearers. The Beatitudes – much like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 – describe the entire Christian.  No one of them sufficiently describes a Christian, but all of them together paint a well-rounded picture of Christianity.  Jesus speaks about the narrow gate of entrance that leads to life later in the Sermon on the Mount, but in this opening passage he wonderfully describes what that gate looks like. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The poor in spirit are those that understand, by the work of the Holy Spirit, that they are spiritually bankrupt.  The poor in spirit understand that no man has anything to bring to

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The Counterintuitive Beauty of the Beatitudes

Timothy Chapman: No preacher today is likely to open a sermon with a list of aphorisms, but in the Sermon on the Mount this is precisely what Jesus did (Matt. 5:2–12). Maybe it’s because these rich statements—these “Beatitudes”—sound more like Confucius than the Jesus we’re used to—and particularly unlike the theological elaborations of Paul or John—that we simply find it easier to avoid elaborating on them in depth. Or maybe it’s their remarkable clarity that makes them seem so obvious as to not be worth discussing. After all, the one-for-one simplicity of “blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” doesn’t exactly beg for a lengthy theological treatise. Conversely, what exactly does it look like to be meek or poor in spirit? It’s complicated. To truly understand the meaning, context, and intent of each unique beatitude takes some work, making the whole process of learning from these memorable statements more complicated than it might seem. Then there’s the timing. The blessings happens in the present, even though

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