Matthew 5:2-12: The Pursuit of Happiness (Part 2)
Continued from Part 1
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Meek” is not a common word in modern language, and usually it has the connotation of weak and submissive. Meekness in the context of the kingdom of God though goes right back to the first beatitude about being poor in spirit. This beatitude makes a reference to Psalm 37:11 which contains a very similar phrase. In the context of Psalm 37, the psalmist lays out a contrast between the wicked and the righteous. While the former plots against the righteous, the Lord laughs at them because they are no match for the and the Lord will fight on behalf of the righteous and deliver them. James 1:20-12 has a similar contrast between meekness and wickedness. He says put away wickedness and take on “with meekness” the implanted word, which was made known through Jesus. James injects this quality because meekness stands in contrast to wickedness, which is prideful and selfish. Submission to the will and word of God requires meekness, and these will be the ones who will inherit the “earth” which is a metaphor taken from the psalm as an allusion to the inheritance that was promised Israel but is made available to all those who believe.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Psalm 42 and Psalm 63 describe one who desires to be in the presence of the Lord like one who is dying of thirst in a dry land. They feels as if they are living in a place where God’s presence is removed and and they long to be where it is. Such is the way one who follows God ought to. Righteousness though on one’s own is impossible, and this is what the Christian is clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. While is is sufficient for justification before God, one ought to put away sin and desire righteousness as one contends with the two natures this side of heaven, knowing that one day the desire for righteousness will be filled in the kingdom of God.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Hosea’s life is a picture of God’s story of redemption for his people. Hosea takes a wife, but she has an affair that brings children. One of those children is named “No Mercy”. Yet in this, God gives mercy to the one who was called “No Mercy”. God in his righteousness has every right to condemn sinners for being unfaithful to him, but he chooses to give mercy to those that don’t deserve it. Later in the sermon, Jesus speaks to this same truth and applies to those who who forgive others (Matthew 6:14-16). The truth of the matter is that every person owes God more than any single person owes another. Matthew illustrates this with a parable in Matthew 18:21-25, where Jesus describes one with a servant who owed an insurmountable debt that his master forgives, but who is unwilling to forgive a debt that is substantially less to another servant. God wants Christians to model his own mercy, being quick to forgive before condemnation.
To Be Continued…