By Pastor Glem Melo
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10)
In Christ, the kingdom of heaven has arrived. It is already here, but not yet in all its fullness. That will happen on the second coming of the Lord Jesus.
Nevertheless, the coming of God’s kingdom in Christ brings blessings today to His true children. The kingdom of heaven is given to them. They already enjoy the benefits of God’s reign in this present age. And they will enjoy His kingdom blessings in all their fullness in the age to come – the new heaven and new earth.
In the beatitudes, Christ teaches us that the heirs of God’s kingdom and blessings are marked by the fruits of true faith. We must remember that we become God’s children and heirs by faith alone. But at the same time, we must also bear in mind that true faith is evidenced by a changed heart and life. It produces the fruits of humility (“poor in spirit”), repentance (“those who mourn”), mercy and other qualities of true godliness.
By and large, the Israelites were hypocritical in their faith and walk with God. Their pride and self-righteousness showed that their hearts were not right with the Father. “Stiff-necked” and unrepentant, the great majority of the people did not receive God’s kingdom blessings. Instead, only a small remnant of repentant and believing Israelites were saved and blessed by Christ’s coming.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, many times we are also hypocritical, proud and “stiff-necked” before the Lord. Jesus’ word calls us to repent and forsake hypocrisy. Be a true believer in heart and life. Believe God’s covenant promises – they are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus. Enjoy His kingdom blessings by faith – they are yours in Christ. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, grow in humility and godliness.
“The coming of the kingdom is the basis for the promises that Jesus gives in the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes thus contain, in the most profound sense of the word, the gospel of the kingdom… Jesus here is describing the kind of people the kingdom of heaven has been prepared for…The Beatitudes are addressed first of all to those in misery… who display a certain spiritual attitude in their misery… [T]he kingdom of heaven contains deliverance for such people…” – Herman Ridderbos
“The beatitudes… deal with the spiritual qualities of all who enter the kingdom of heaven… [They] outline the attitudes of the true disciple, the one who accepted the demands of God’s kingdom, in contrast with the attitudes of the ‘man of the world’…” – Richard T. France
“The poverty and hunger to which Jesus refers in the beatitudes are spiritual states. It is the ‘poor in spirit’ and ‘those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’ whom he declares blessed… ‘The poor,’ God’s poor, were already a clearly defined group on the Old Testament… For ‘the poor’ were not so much the poverty stricken as the pious who – partly because they were needy, downtrodden, oppressed or in other ways afflicted – had put their faith and hope in God… Jesus is making an objective judgment about these people. He is declaring… what God thinks of them and what on that account they are: they are ‘blessed’.” – John Stott