The people who had followed Jesus to the grassy place on the side of the mountain had come expecting to make Him their king.
They did not like being poor. They hated the Romans who ruled them. They were tired out from working hard. They expected the Messiah to change all these things right away.
“If Jesus is our king,” they said, ”He will give us money and beautiful clothes. We won’t have to work, because the Messiah will feed us with food from heaven. The Romans will be our servants. Then we will always be happy.” But Jesus did not talk to them about conquering the Romans, having many servants, or wearing beautiful clothes and eating miracle food. He talked about love and kindness. The people began to see a different kind of happiness.
“You are happy when you know you need spiritual treasure from God. You are happy when you are sorry for your sins, because God will forgive you. You are happy when you are meek and gentle,” Jesus told them.
While the people were thinking about these new ideas, Jesus went on. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
When Jesus said “Blessed,” he was saying that people would be happy when they lived this way. What a wonderful promise this was. These people had always thought they had to work hard to be righteous by fasting, giving money, washing their hands in a certain way, and following a lot of other rules.
There were so many rules, only a priest or a rabbi had the time to study and follow them all. Ordinary people thought they had very little chance of being righteous.
But righteousness is being like God, and Jesus wanted the people to know that God is love. All the people had to do was want to be like God, with all their hearts, and He would fill them with His love. It was a gift, not something they had to work for.
Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Water of Life. Anyone who believes in Him will never feel spiritually starved and thirsty again, because each believer will be filled with His righteousness and His love.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,” Jesus said. Merciful people are always ready to help someone in trouble. They will feed the hungry, rescue disaster victims, shelter the homeless and defend those who are treated unfairly.
Being merciful also means being ready to forgive others when they do wrong. Jesus told the people that God would show each of us the same forgiveness and mercy we show to others.
It is not enough to forgive just our friends. Jesus said we must love our enemies, too. Then we can be kind and forgiving, even to those who are cruel and mean to us.
When we forgive those who are unkind, Jesus said, we are the children of God. God is kind to evil ones as well as to good people. “Then you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect,” Jesus said. The people were happy to know that being perfect did not mean following a lot of rules about clothes and washing and fasting.
Each time Jesus spoke about how to live, the hearts of the people were filled with joy. They had hope, now, where there had been no hope before.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” Jesus continued.
The more Jesus taught them, the easier it was for the people to understand Him. They knew He meant purity of heart was more important than all the rules and rituals they had been taught to follow to be ceremonially clean.
Having a pure heart means more than just keeping away from bad language and wrong thoughts. A heart that is pure is honest and unselfish, free of pride. It is a heart that has only the unselfish love and forgiving spirit of God.
Jesus was telling the people there is no place in the kingdom of God for people who are selfish and quarrelsome, who are always trying to be first, who do good things just to get praise and honor.
People whose hearts have been filled with the love of God show what God is really like because they act like Him. We become like the people we admire and think about and spend time with.
When we have pure, unselfish hearts we will be peaceful and helpful. That is what Jesus talked about next. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,” He said.
Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. When He was born, the angels said, “On earth peace, good will toward men.” Those who have the love of Jesus in their hearts have no room for selfishness. They love everyone — even their enemies. They are peaceful and kind. There are no hard feelings in a heart softened by God’s love.
Peacemakers also help other people to know the peace of God, and that is the greatest peacemaking of all. These children of God will help stubborn, sinful hearts to be at peace with God.
To be a child of God means to be a brother or sister of Jesus, for He is the Son of God.
No wonder the people were happy when Jesus told them, “you are blessed. Yours is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus tells us to be meek (gentle). Was He meek? Read Matthew 11:29. A mighty man who led a whole nation was called the meekest man on earth. Who was he? Read Numbers 12:3. Whom will God teach His way? Read Psalm 25:9. Proverbs 20:3 says it is an honor to make peace. What does it call people who are always quarreling? “Beatitude” means blessing. The first verses of the Sermon on the Mount are called the Beatitudes. Read Matthew 5:3-12. How many beatitudes or blessings, do you find?
A wonderful blessing spoken by Jesus is our Treasure Chest Verse for this lesson:
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8