Matthew 5:1–10: The Blessedness of Believers
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers the purest, most perfect wisdom the world has ever heard, in a distillation of only three chapters of material (Matt. 5–7). Within this Sermon, Jesus begins by a series of paradoxical statements about the blessedness of those whom the world would never consider to be blessed. Here, Jesus reveals the mysteries of a spiritual kingdom where the poor are rich, the hungry are satisfied, and the persecuted possess a kingdom. Here, Jesus teaches us about the centrality of repentance toward God, and the need for us to resemble God himself. Here, Jesus teaches that blessed are the repentant who resemble God.
1. Of the nine approaches to the Sermon on the Mount listed above, which has most shaped your own understanding of this Sermon? How does it help to understand the Sermon on the Mount as an unfolding of the summary form of Jesus’ preaching in Matthew 4:17? Why does Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argue that the Beatitudes describe the distinguishing characteristics of Christians vs. non-Christians? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
2. What does it mean in the Beatitudes to be “blessed”? How is this blessedness similar to the blessedness that the world seeks? How is it different? How should we understand the paradoxical blessedness that Jesus declares for the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and even those who are persecuted? Why do you think Jesus begins the teaching about the kingdom of heaven with these paradoxes?
3. What do the first four beatitudes teach us about the nature of repentance toward God? What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Why is this essential for possessing the kingdom of heaven? On what basis can we have confidence that those who mourn will be comforted? How will the meek—as opposed to the aggressive—inherit the kingdom? In what way can those who hunger and thirst for righteousness expect to be satisfied?
4. What do the last four beatitudes teach us about how we come to resemble God? Why must those who have received God’s mercy also extend mercy to others? What is the relationship between purity in heart and seeing God? What does the rest of the Bible teach us to help us to understand the significance of seeing God? Why do others recognize our resemblance to God by our peacemaking? What role does persecution play in confirming our resemblance to God?