Meditations in the Beatitudes


“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-3

We might expect that it is those who live by a certain religious code of ethics who will partake of the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus says otherwise: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

It is not the haughty and self-righteous who will inherit the kingdom of God, but the one who humbly acknowledges before God his spiritual poverty and sinfulness in thought, word and deed.

Do you remember Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the publican? Who is it who went home from the temple justified before God? It was the tax collector who wouldn’t even raise his eyes toward heaven but could only say, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:9-14).

In Isaiah 66:2 God says, “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Cf. Psalm 34:18 and 51:16-17.

God desires that we humble ourselves before Him, confess our utter sinfulness and spiritual poverty, and receive His pardon and forgiveness for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross for our sins.

Are you “poor in spirit”? Turn to Jesus and be blessed with a place in His eternal kingdom for the sake of His shed blood.

O Dearest Jesus, I am a sinner and fail to measure up to the righteous demands of Your holy Word. I have sinned in my thoughts, desires, words and deeds. But you kept God’s commandments for me, and You went to the cross and took my punishment. Have mercy on me and forgive me for the sake of Your shed blood, and receive me into Your eternal kingdom. Amen.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Many think Jesus here refers to blessing and comfort for those who are sad now and cry much in life due to hardship and tragedy. But a study of the Scriptures will reveal that Jesus speaks of mourning over one’s sin and disobedience to God’s holy commandments. He speaks of sadness over our failures to love the LORD our God and live holy and God-pleasing lives.

In Joel, chapter 2, God warned His people of His impending judgment upon them for turning away from Him in their hearts. Verses 12-14 say: “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?”

Those who are truly sorry for their sins and lament their rebellion and disobedience to the LORD and His Word will find comfort in the good news of forgiveness and life in God’s Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3). “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2). Jesus fulfilled all righteousness in our stead and then bore the full punishment for our sins when He was crucified and died upon the cross. His resurrection proves that an atonement has been made for the sins of all (cf. Romans 4:23-25).

With David, we pray, “Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (Psalm 86:3-5).

Indeed, it is true: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

My dear Lord Jesus, I have sinned and failed to love You and keep Your commandments. For the sake of Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for my sins, forgive me and cleanse my heart that I might love You and serve You always. Amen.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

In this world, it appears that it is the forceful, outgoing and sometimes unscrupulous who are blessed, and the humble and meek get nowhere. But Jesus says just the opposite. It is the meek and humble who are blessed, “for they shall inherit the earth.”

Psalm 37 (verses 1-11) says the same thing: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

Why does Jesus say these words? To warn us against the folly of thinking that we are blessed and do well for ourselves by being self-assertive, less than honest and meek in our dealings with others, and unwilling to trust in the LORD and live our lives in accord with His Word. Jesus would have us repent of our wickedness and turn to Him for forgiveness, and He would have us live our lives in accord with His Word, trusting and relying upon Him for blessing.

And those who do so will be blessed – if not now in this life, when Jesus returns to establish His eternal kingdom. Then, indeed, the meek shall inherit the earth!

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for being envious of the wealthy and powerful and for seeking to get ahead in this life by being selfish, deceitful and less than honest and considerate in my dealings with others. Give me faith to trust in You and live my life in accord with Your holy Word. Amen.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Those who honestly look upon themselves in the mirror of God’s law will see that they are unrighteous and unholy by God’s standard. The Bible tells us that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

But, for the sake of the shed blood of Messiah Jesus, we sinners are made acceptable in God’s eyes – all our sins are washed away in Jesus’ blood and God counts us righteous through faith in Him! Cf. Ephesians 1:6-7; Colossians 1:19-23; Romans 3:21-28; 4:5.

One of the marks of a true believer in Christ Jesus is the desire to be like Him. John writes: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

A true believer trusts in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of his sins and to be counted righteous in God’s eyes; but a fruit of such faith is the desire to live a righteous and holy life for Jesus while awaiting His return (cf. Romans 6:1ff.; 2 Corinthians 5:15-17; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:1-21). Indeed, one who knows of his own sinfulness and utter failure to live according to God’s holy will and who also knows and trusts in Jesus Christ as His Savior will also hunger and thirst after righteousness.

And such are blessed because “they shall be filled.” Through faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross, they are already accounted perfectly righteous and holy in God’s eyes. And, during this earthly life, the Holy Spirit is at work transforming those who trust in Christ into His image, giving them a desire to live for Christ Jesus and keep His commandments (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:4ff.).

But, as true believers also know, we will not be entirely free of sin until we are with our Savior in heaven. Then, we will finally be like Him and see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

The Scriptures say, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15). Then, indeed, we “shall be filled.”

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for bearing upon the cross the full and just punishment for my sins and winning for me God’s pardon and peace. Thank You for counting me to be righteous in Your sight for the sake of Jesus’ shed blood. By Your gracious Spirit, give me also a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and grant that this hunger and thirst be satisfied both now and hereafter in eternity. Amen.

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7

One who knows God and has received of His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus will also show mercy unto others. That is why Jesus teaches us to pray: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). He also adds the explanation: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21ff.), the king’s servant who was forgiven an enormous debt but would not then show mercy to a fellow servant who owed him only a small debt in comparison showed his lack of appreciation for the mercy shown him and forfeited that mercy. He was delivered to the torturers until he paid his debt in full. And Jesus says, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:35).

Whether we realize it or not, God has shown great mercy to each of us. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve (cf. Psalm 103:8-12) but, instead, laid the guilt and punishment for all our sins upon His own Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Isaiah 53:6). Jesus took our punishment and suffered and died in our place that God might be merciful to us, forgive our sins and give us a place with Him in heaven. Even now, God is patient with us, desiring that all would repent and turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness in His Son (cf. 2 Peter 3:9).

When we are graciously brought to faith in Jesus and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness, we will also be merciful and forgiving toward others, desiring that they too would be saved. Thus, the Scriptures urge us to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Then, on the Last Day, when Jesus returns in judgment, those who have received God’s mercy in Christ Jesus and, as a result, also show mercy to others will receive mercy from the LORD God. But those who have not received God’s mercy and forgiveness through faith in His Son – and thus were not merciful unto others – will not receive mercy of the Lord but suffer the tortures of hell to pay in full for their sins!

Dear Father in heaven, thank You for being gracious and merciful to me and sending Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to bear my sins, die in my stead and rise in victory. Graciously grant that I receive Your mercy and forgiveness by faith and also show mercy unto others. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Psalm 24 asks the question: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (verses 3-5).

Who is it that will be privileged to stand in God’s presence and see His face? Jesus says it is “the pure in heart.” But being pure in heart is more than just outward obedience to God’s commandments; it is loving God with all the heart, mind and soul, and having nothing but holy thoughts and desires as well!

The problem is: Whose heart is pure?

Jesus said of the most religious people of His day, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8, quoting from Isaiah 29:13). He also said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:19,20).

How can we have a clean and pure heart? Only through faith in the shed blood of Jesus, for the Bible tells us that it is His blood that “cleanseth us from all sin” and makes us acceptable in God’s sight (1 John 1:7; Ephesians 1:6,7; Colossians 1:12-14,19-23)! For the sake of Jesus, God reckons those who trust in Him to be righteous and holy.

Of course, those who trust in Jesus’ blood and righteousness for pardon and acceptance in God’s eyes also desire to be “pure in heart.”

After confessing His sin and turning to the LORD for forgiveness, David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). And so, we also who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins desire that God would create in us pure and undivided hearts to love and serve Him and keep His commandments, for it is our desire to see our Savior when He appears and to be like Him (cf. 1 John 3:2-3; Psalm 119:1ff.).

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, my heart is evil and defiled by sin. Forgive my sin for the sake of Your blood, shed for me upon the cross, and create in me a clean heart that I might love You and serve You all of my days. Amen.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Though God will not tolerate our sin and rebellion against Him and does not mince words in telling us the truth about our sinfulness and His condemnation of sin, God is a God of peace. He does not desire our condemnation and so sent His own dear Son to bear the punishment for our sins, and He calls upon all of us to repent and turn to Him for full pardon and peace.

When speaking about the coming day of judgment, the Bible tells us: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9; cf. Ezekiel 33:11).

The Bible also says that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).

As children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (cf. Galatians 3:26), we who now have peace with God for the sake of Jesus’ shed blood also seek to live in peace with others. Like our heavenly Father, we desire that others, too, repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness and peace with God. Like our heavenly Father, we cannot tolerate sin and rebellion against God and we must not hesitate to speak the truth of God’s Word; but we do so in love, desiring that our fellow sinners repent and return to their Father in heaven for pardon and peace (cf. Ephesians 4:15).

St. Paul writes, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians. 5:20).

Though some who claim to follow Christ are quick to stir up contention and strife; that is not what Jesus would have us do. The Bible tells us: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18; cf. Hebrews 12:14; Psalm 34:14; Mark 9:50). While we must hold fast to and contend for the true teaching of God’s Word, we are not to become involved in foolish arguments over things not clearly laid out in the Scriptures (cf. 2 Timothy 2:22-26; 3:1-17). Who is won for the truth through bitter strife and arguments anyway? Rather, all we can do is bear witness to the truth with a kind and humble spirit and let God’s Spirit do the rest.

Paul writes to the church in Ephesus: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph. 4:31 – 5:2).

Remember Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of peace, so often my ways are not set on peace, but on strife and contention. Graciously forgive me for the sake of Your holy and precious blood, shed on my behalf, and give me a heart like that of our heavenly Father – a heart that holds fast to the truth but also seeks peace through humble submission to God’s truth. Amen.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

Paul wrote to Timothy: “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

It is a fruit of saving faith in Jesus Christ to desire to live for Him and keep His Word. Those who repent of their rebellious and sinful ways and trust in Jesus for forgiveness and life do not desire to continue in sin and opposition to God and His ways. Rather, they desire to be more and more like Jesus who died for them and rose again.

The Bible says: “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15; cf. Romans 6:1ff.).

They continually acknowledge and confess their sins and failures to the LORD God, receive His forgiveness for the sake of Jesus’ shed blood, and seek God’s help and strength to amend their lives and live for Him (cf. Psalm 51; 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).

However, in a world that is becoming more and more evil (cf. 2 Timothy 3:13), those who go against the flow and seek to keep God’s commandments are not well received. They suffer persecution. But those who are persecuted in this world for seeking to live righteous and holy lives for Jesus their Savior are indeed blessed of God and can even rejoice in their suffering, for they have a place in God’s eternal kingdom (cf. 1 Peter 3:14).

This does not mean they have a place in God’s eternal kingdom because of their suffering here in this world. Rather, they are blessed, even in the midst of their suffering, because they have a place in God’s eternal kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, their Savior!

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, give me a steadfast heart, a heart which trusts in You alone for the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation, a heart which loves You and seeks to live for You even in the midst of suffering and persecution in this world, and a heart which rejoices because You have granted me a place in Your eternal kingdom for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Before His crucifixion and death, Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (John 15:18-21).

Followers of Jesus do not seek persecution, but it is a fact that those who follow Him and hold fast to His Word will suffer persecution (cf. 2 Timothy 3:12). The world does not like to be reminded of its sinfulness and the coming judgment of God, nor do worldly people like it when one turns from his former evil ways to Jesus for forgiveness and life. Followers of Jesus are a constant reminder to the people of this world that they are on the wrong path and will soon be judged by God.

The Old Testament prophets, too, were a reminder to those whose hearts had turned away from the LORD that they were turned aside from the truth and headed for God’s judgment. And, from the blood of Abel to Zechariah, many of these true prophets of God suffered great persecution and even death for their testimony to the truth (cf. Matthew 23:31-39). Those who thought they were righteous by their own practice of religious rites did not want to hear of their sin and need for repentance.

Many might see the suffering and persecution which comes upon followers of Jesus even today and think that surely they are not blessed of God, but Jesus says, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Those who follow Jesus are blessed, even if persecuted here in this world, for they have the blessings of heaven for the sake of Jesus’ innocent sufferings and death in their stead and will also be greatly rewarded for their faithfulness to the Savior!

Dear Lord Jesus, grant that I not shrink back from faithfulness to You, but trust you, follow You, live for You, and proclaim Your Word to those around me in the world. If persecution comes, grant me the strength to endure and faith that looks forward to the eternal rewards of heaven which are mine for the sake of Your blood, shed on the cross for my sins. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]