Mt. 5:1-12; Lk 6:20-26 Blessed . . .
Gen. 17:1 I am El-Shaddai; walk before Me and be blameless
What are we pursuing in life?: a comfortable life without problems?; or enough money to take care of any problems which we may have?; maybe a quiet life, or perhaps we want to succeed and be the best builder or the best athlete because someone once said to you (or me) that you will never be good at anything. . . and you want to prove them wrong. In a word, we want to be happy, and we seek it by pursuing those things which we believe will bring us this sense of happiness. This pursuit touches our personal, family, and social identity and sense of well-being.
I remember that some years before I was saved, someone said to me, “If you had three wishes, what would they be?” My answer was only one, “to be happy, but I do not know what it would take to make me happy, so whatever it would be, that is what I wish!” Later on, when I repented and believed in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, God fulfilled my “wish”! In Christ I found my “blessedness”, far better than some worldly happiness.
Happiness, as generally understood, can come and go. It is dependent upon circumstances. By making it a goal, people constantly pursue some “thing” or circumstance which will keep them happy. It requires outside influences, or other people, to be so arranged so that I am personally content. There is no rest for the soul because it lusts for and covets what it does not have in the hope acquiring personal happiness, even if at the expense of others’ happiness. Once you have gained your sense of feeling happy, what must you do to keep it? The pursuit of happiness can simply be loving oneself above others.
On the other hand, “blessedness” depends upon God, and is a permanent joy not affected by life’s circumstances. It is not a goal or a motive in itself, but rather a result (by-product) of obeying the Lord Jesus Christ with faith. We do not repent and believe the gospel in order to be blessed, but rather to believe the truth that our sins are forgiven: to be freed from captivity and futility. Blessedness comes as a natural consequence of our new birth and salvation.
Happiness is often a selfish goal; blessedness comes when we pursue godliness for Messiah’s sake. It is in and through Him that we know true blessedness.
As we begin to listen to Jesus teaching us from the mount, we realize that He is teaching firstly those who are His disciples — those who believe in Him and walk with Him. He had already commanded unbelievers to repent and believe the good news, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Then He told those who did so to follow Him and share the good news with others that they too may be saved from their sins and be reconciled to God. When we are born again we become a new creation, and God’s Spirit and nature dwell within the believer. Nevertheless, the believer must grow and mature to express more fully the life of Messiah in us. If we became perfect at new birth there would be no reason to teach or preach to believers, yet most of the New Testament teaching and preaching is addressed to believers in the churches.
In this life we will never arrive at God’s full standard of practical holiness and righteousness. This will only be after the resurrection and Christ’s judgment of our works done as redeemed sinners. But here in the sermon on the mount, our Savior guides us in how to grow towards the goal God has set before us, and He tells us that there is blessedness – satisfaction – for us, and for others as well through us, as we obey the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit. There is blessedness as these things become true in us — the character of the Lamb, of God’s only-begotten Son, on earth. Blessed is the person in whose heart God Himself dwells. It is important that we become conscious of the ideal character of Messiah in us, just as we are to know that we have eternal life now through faith that justifies and saves the believer.
The triune God is Himself blessed. He is not dependent on outside circumstances, and He is not producing blessedness for Himself by His activities. He is in Himself blessed, satisfied, joyous; therefore our own blessedness can not be apart from Him. The Lord Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us sinners to God, our holy and righteous Father in Heaven. The Christian believer can be blessed in this life as we obey the Lord and partake of His holiness. The believer is a person who is blessed in this life, not because of what happens to him/her, but sometimes despite what happens.
We who believe still live in a world hostile to God and to His Anointed One. We who were once friends with the world but enemies of God, are now friends of God but the world is our enemy. Yeshua gives us His law to live by as citizens of His kingdom. We are no longer to remain in bondage to Satan and sin, because Messiah the Son of God sets us free. Within the Body of Christ, Yeshua teaches us the way to be blessed — not only in contrast to the temporal happiness which may be in the world, but also in relationship to others who are our brothers and sisters by faith in God through Him.
As we begin our series to study and learn from the sermon on the mount, it will be helpful to keep in mind several assumptions: Jesus knows perfectly well what is in man (John 2:24-25); Jesus knows what each of us needs: rest and healing for our souls (Mt. 11:28-30; 13:15); the law of God’s government is love (Mt. 22:36-40; John 13:15); that those whom God foreknew are being transformed into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-30).
The “sermon on the mount” has been rightly called the Torah of Messiah, the law or constitution of the New Covenant during this period between Jesus’ first coming and His return. Being of the new covenant in Yeshua Himself, this Torah contains things both old and new relative to the former covenant which is passing away, and as Moses himself wrote, we are to listen to and believe what the Messiah says (Deut. 18:15). At the end of the prophets, the LORD tells Israel through Malachi to remember the Law of Moses as the Day of the LORD nears (Mal. 4:4-5). The apostles of the Lord Messiah tell us to be faithful to the teachings of Yeshua. All true Holy Spirit revival will bring those who fear God back to His word, which will preserve us from God’s righteous judgments, which begins in His own household first. And because the sermon on the mount is the foundational teaching of the whole of the New Testament, our Lord Jesus touches on all aspects of relationships and godly living. By the grace of God, let us listen and respond to what He is saying to us here and now.