Sermon Notes: “”Jesus and the Blessedness of the Poor” (Matthew 5:3-5)

Sermon Notes

Sermon Title: “Jesus and the Blessedness of the Poor” (Part Two)

Text: Matthew 5:3-5

Date: Sunday, August 12, 2018

Series : “Jesus, Our Righteousness”:  The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)

Speaker: Pastor Joseph

Introduction: “The beatitudes proclaim that someday God will give human beings what they cannot obtain for themselves on their own. Again, the lesson is grace” (Allisson, The Sermon on the Mount, 30). As D. E. Garland states, “The blessings are completely future-oriented, and no promise is held out for well-being in this life. It assumes that happiness is to be found only in the sphere of God in the life to come and cannot be found in external circumstances of this present evil age” (D.E. Garland, “Blessing,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospel, p. 78).

Matthew 5: 2-5

“2. And he (Jesus) 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.”

Luke 6:20-22

6:20: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.”

6:21: “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.”

6:21: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

6:22: “Blessed are you when people hate you and they exclude you and revile you and spurn your names as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

Luke and Matthew: Contrast and differences

  • Matthew includes nine beatitudes (blessings) whereas Luke only highlights four of them and omits three. Matthew, however, includes other beatitudes (11:6; 13:6; 16:17;24:46.
  • Luke makes Jesus address the beatitudes directly to the disciples by using the subject pronoun “you” or “yours.”
  • Matthew writes in the third person, implying an indirect address: “those/theirs/they
  • Luke adds the word “now” to indicate the immediateness of material poverty.
  • In verses 11 & 12, Matthew employs the second person “you” (4 times) and “your” once to be more direct, as if Jesus was pointing to the disciples themselves; in this case, he joins with Luke in 6:23, in which the third Evangelist uses “your” (reward is great).

The Beatitudes: Contrast and Similarities in Matthew and Luke

 

Matthew Luke Similarity Difference
6:3

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

6:20

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.”

 

Yes “Theirs” in Matthew/ “You” in Luke

 

“Kingdom of heaven” in Matthew”/ “Kingdom of God” in Luke

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” in Luke/ “Blessed are you who are poor” in Luke

6:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

6:21

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

 

Yes “Those” and “they” in Matthew/ “you” and “you in Luke

 

6:5

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Omission in Luke Omission in Luke Omission in Luke
6:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

6:21

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.”

 

Yes “Those” and “they” in Matthew/ “you” and “you in Luke

 

Luke omits the phrase “thirst for righteousness”

 

6:7

 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Omission in Luke Omission in Luke Omission in Luke
6:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Omission in Luke Omission in Luke Omission in Luke
6:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.”

Omission in Luke Omission in Luke Omission in Luke
6:10

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

6:22

“Blessed are you when people hate you and they exclude you and revile you and spurn your names as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”

   
6:11

 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

6:22

“Blessed are you when people hate you and they exclude you and revile you and spurn your names as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”

Yes Luke incorporates the expression “when…they exclude you” whereas in Matthew, the exclusion of the disciple in society is absent.

 

Matthew writes “on my account,” whereas in Luke, it is “on account of the Son of Man” (Luke emphasizes Jesus’ messianic title”

 

Inferences:

  • “The poor, the mourners, the meek, the hungry and the persecuted would not be esteemed as happy by those who prize only earthly well-being; they would be placed in the category of the unfortunate and miserable. By contrast, Jesus announces, “Happy are the unhappy for God will make them happy. Their deliverance is not yet, but they should be fully conscious of divine blessing and favor (D.E. Garland, “Blessing,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospel, p. 79).
  • Matthew and Luke: Luke’s Beatitudes seem to apply to socio-economic conditions: the poor, the hungry, the weeping; and they are addressed directly in the second person. Matthew’s Beatitudes are considered by some to be more spiritualized or ethicized. Those blessed are the poor in spirit (the meek), the ones hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers; and they are addressed indirectly in the third person” (D.E. Garland, “Blessing,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospel, p. 78-9).
  • “The Lukan Beatitudes are combined with woes, and this combination emphasizes that a reversal of circumstances will come about: the hungry will become satisfied; the filled will become hungry. No reversal of conditions is implied in Matthew. The merciful will not cease being merciful, the pure in heart will not become less pure when they see God and the peacemakers will not become any less peacemakers… Therefore, the Matthean Beatitudes are said to depict ‘types of character that have God’s approval’” (D.E. Garland, “Blessing,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospel, p. 79)

Analysis of the Beatitudes: 5:3-12

What are the beatitudes?

  • Are they divine orders/requirements/commands to enter the kingdom of God?
  • Are they wishes or hopes?
  • Are they pronouncements?
  • Do they convey a state of being or how to be in the world?
  • Do they provide orientation to life?
  • Are they characteristics or virtues should every follower of Christ should pursue, desire, or covet?
  • Are they optional Christian virtues in the Christian life?
  • Are they conditional virtues to salvation or to stay saved? (virtues: humility, meekness, godliness, righteousness, mercy, purity/holiness/sanctification/perfections, peaceful, patience/forbearance/endurance)
  • Are they “works” or “deeds” one must perform to enter the Kingdom of God?
  • Are they Christian qualities or the fruit of the Spirit as one finds in Paul (Galatians 5:22-23)?

Galatians 5:22-23

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

The identity of the audience: To whom the blessedness is directed to?

  • The poor in spirit
  • The mourners
  • The meek
  • The hunger and the thirst
  • The merciful
  • The pure in heart
  • The peacemakers
  • The persecuted
  • The reviled

What do these individuals share in common?

  • Beneficiaries of divine bliss, reward, satisfaction, comfort, identity (“sons of God” v. 9), intimacy with God (“vision of God”/” shall see God” v. 8), relationship with God, God’s presence.
  • Inheritors of the Kingdom of heaven (vv. 3, 10, 11)
  • Inheritors of the earth\land (v.5)
  • They experience persecution, false accusations, suffering, pain, evil (v.11) (this is a warning for followers of Christ that they will indeed experience persecution, suffering, failures, disappointments in this life. Followers of Jesus Christ are promised to bear the cross of Christ. Verse 11 is a call to suffer to followers of Christ. Accordingly, the call to discipleship is a call to suffer and to bear the cross of Christ.
  • They are “the salt of the earth” (v.13) and “the light of the world” (v.14), and “a city set on a hill” (v.14)

Places or spheres of reward: heaven (v.3, 10, 11) and earth (v.5)

The King’s commands or imperatives:

  • The call to rejoice (v.12)
  • The call to be glad (v.12)
  • The call to produce good works in the manner of God himself (v.15, 13)

The World “Blessed”

  • The word “blessed” comes from the Greek word “makarios.” It is basically a Greek adjective meaning “happy.” The Hebrew word translated blessing is “asre” meaning “Oh the happiness of the one.” “Macarisms” are essentially commendations, congratulations, statements to the effect that a person is in a good situation, sometimes even expression of envy” (France, The Gospel of Matthew, 160). The word eudaimonia means happiness or human flourishing. Many commentators have translated the word as happy, flourishing, joyful.  The word “happy” is sued of the dead who died in the Lord (Rev. 14:13).
  • The word beatitude derives from Latin “beatus” meaning blessed, happy, hopeful, or joyful.
  • “blessed” is the opposite of the word “woe” as Jesus pronounces “woes” to the Scribes and Pharisees. For example, Jesus pronounces seven woes in Matthew 23:13-36
  • “The Greek word (Makarios) is a way of expressing a good fortune which, because it is known, brings joy. “Fortunate are the poor in spirit” would be as accurate as translated as “blessed are the poor in spirit” or “happy are the poor in spirit” (Allison 43)

 

  • There are two types of beatitudes in Scriptures
  • Those that bless God: Gen. 30:13,
  • Those that bless human beings: Ps. 1:1-2; Prov. 3:3; Ps. 32:1
  • Blessing as an uproot of one’s relationship with God
  • 144:15, people who know the Lord are called blessed. The people whom God know in intimate way are called blessed.
  • 84:12, Those who trust in God are called blessed.
  • 119:1-2, those who are called blameless and walk worthy before God are blessed.
  • 129:1, those who fear the Lord and obey God are called blessed.
  • 2:2, those who have God as their Refuge and Resting Place are called blessed.

Old Testament Antecedents

  • Isaiah 61:1-3
  • 24:3-6

The Beatitudes: Contrast and Similarities in Matthew and Luke

Isaiah 61 Matthew 5 Similarity Difference
61:1

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

    because the Lord has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor;[a]

    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

5:3

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

To preach the good news is associated with the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven

 

 

 
61:2

“to comfort all who mourn”

“to grant to those who mourn in Zion”

5:4

“for they shall be comforted”

   
61:2

“to comfort all who mourn”

6:5

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

   
  6:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

   
  6:7

 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

   
  6:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

   
  6:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.”

   
  6:10

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

   
  6:11

 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

   
  6:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Yes Luke incorporates the expression “when…they exclude you” whereas in Matthew, the exclusion of the disciple in society is absent.

 

Matthew writes “on my account,” whereas in Luke, it is “on account of the Son of Man” (Luke emphasizes Jesus’ messianic title”

 

  • Jesus blesses his followers because of what he has stored for them. These beatitudes, however, have both and futuristic aspects, as indicating in the future tense (they’re eschatological promises of the Kingdom):

Future condition that will be fully realized in the kingdom

  1. “they shall be comforted”
  2. “they shall inherit the earth”
  3. “they shall be satisfied”
  4. “they shall receive mercy”
  5. “they shall see God”
  6. “they shall be called sons of God”
  7. “your reward is great in heaven”

Only three of the beatitudes promise present blessings: “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (v.3); “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (v.10); and “your reward is great in heaven” (v.11). These beatitudes have both present condition (i.e. poor in spirit) and future condition (i.e. possess kingdom)

“Originally the beatitudes were intended to startle. Simple observation of the world as it is informs us that the rich, not the poor, are blessed; that those who are happy, not those who mourn, are blessed; that those who have power, not the meek, are blessed; that those who are filled, not the hungry and thirsty, are blessed; and that those who are well treated, not those who are persecuted, are blessed. So, the beatitudes have things backward. To take them seriously is to call into question our ordinary values” (Dale Allison, The Sermon on the Mount, 42).

Eight qualities/promises/commendations/virtues

  • meek & merciful (vv. 5, 7)
  • poor in spirit and pure in heart (vv. 3, 8)
  • mourning and hungry (vv. 4, 5)
  • peacemakers and persecuted (vv. 9. 10)

These qualities apply to every Christian. The first four beatitudes describe our relationship with God. The second four describe the relationship between Christians to his fellow men and women.

  1. The Disciples are Described
  • “The beatitudes set forth the balanced and variegated character of Christian people. These are not eight separate and distinct groups of disciples, some of whom are meek, while others are merciful and yet others are called upon to endure persecution. They are rather eight qualities of the same group who at one and the same time are meek and merciful, poor in spirit and pure in heart, mourning and hungry, peacemakers and persecuted” (Stott, The Sermon on the Mount, 31).
  • “The beatitudes are Christ’s own specification of what every Christian ought to be. All these qualities are to characterize all his followers. Just as the ninefold fruit of the Spirit which Paul lists is to ripen in every Christian character, so the eight beatitudes which Christ speaks describe his ideal for every citizen of God’s kingdom” (ibid)
  • Unlike the gifts of the Spirit which he distributes to different members of Christ’s body in order to equip them for different kinds of service, the same Spirit is concerned to work all these Christian graces in us all. There is no escape from our responsibility to covet them all” (ibid)

 

The Text

Matthew 5: 2-5

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.”

  1. 5: 3, Is the text talking about “material poverty” or “spiritual poverty”
  2. When comparing this passage with Luke 6:20, one can conclude that the beatitude of Matthew 5:3 indicates “material poverty.” It is addressed toward those who are fighting the evils and predicament of (material) poverty. Spiritual poverty is the recognition that God alone can fulfill the spiritual need and the phrase also connotes total dependence on God for our spiritual bankruptcy. The phrase is against any spiritual pride, spiritual self-sufficiency. Hence, humility is the foundational virtue of all the beatitudes. In other words, one cannot approach God or enter the kingdom of God without an attitude of humility before him. Jesus himself is the model of humility and meekness, as he himself in Matthew 11:29
  3. There are other usages of the word poor in Matthew that do not indicate “spiritual poverty.”

The preferential option for the poor in Matthew

  • Matthew 11:5, Jesus preaches the good news to the poor.
  • Matthew 19:21, Jesus orders the rich young man to distribute his possessions or wealth to the poor and the economically-disadvantaged.
  • Matthew 26:9, the generous attitude of uplifting the poor through giving or donating financially, “For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.”
  • Matthew 26:11, remembrance of the poor
  1. “Jesus is speaking of a spiritual poverty that corresponds to the material poverty of one who is ptochos” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Commentary, Matthew 1-7, p. 53). He also writes, “those who are materially poor do have some advantages in spiritual matters by not having certain distractions and temptations;’ and the materially rich have some disadvantage by having certain distractions and temptations. But material possessions have no necessary relationship to spiritual blessings. Matthew makes clear that Jesus is here talking about the condition of the spirit, not of the wallet” (page 146). MacArthur continues by stating that “to be poor in spirit is to recognize one’s spiritual poverty apart from God. It is to see oneself as one really is: lost, hopeless, helpless. Apart from Jesus Christ every person is spiritual destitute, no matter what his education, wealth, social status, accomplishments, or religious knowledge…The poor in spirit are those who recognize their total spiritual destitution and their complete dependence on God. They perceive that there are no saving resources in themselves and that they can only beg for mercy and grace. They know they have no spiritual merit, and they know they can earn no spiritual reward. Their pride is gone, their self-assurance is gone, and they stand empty-handed before God” (ibid).

Poor in Spirit in the Old Testament

  • 51:17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
  • Isaiah 66:2, All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things came to be,
    declares the Lord.
    But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
    and trembles at my word.
  • 34:8. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
  • David in Psalm 51:1-3

Amen