February 18 Lent Devotional

February 18, 2021
By Pastor Lesly Broadbent

Matthew 5:1-10
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

So what are these Beatitudes? Are they wishes or moral platitudes that we are supposed to live up to? Are we supposed to first be blessed or are we to first be poor in spirit, mournful, meek, etc.? Are these hopes and dreams of Christians or are these God’s judicial pronouncements? Are these simply statements that outline how God thinks and acts to God’s followers?

The Beatitudes are at the beginning of the most extensive teaching of Jesus’ in Scripture: The Sermon on the Mount. This sermon was preached primarily to the disciples of Jesus, but the crowds also listened in, as is apparent from Matthew 7:28-29. The Beatitudes are found both in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels. We will primarily be examining Matthew’s version. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ most detailed teaching on the meaning of the Kingdom of God.

So as we begin to study the Beatitudes, we must first begin to understand the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is both a present and future reality. Jesus declared time and again, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is at hand,” but also implied the Kingdom of God is in the future. The Kingdom of God is most often understood as being heaven. And to be sure, the Kingdom of God is most fully known and lived out in heaven, but the Kingdom of God is also here on earth, right now. From all the parables and teachings of Jesus and the New Testament authors we can conclude that the Kingdom of God is simply the reign and rule of God. Where God reigns and rules is where the Kingdom of God abides. With that understanding, we can see that the Kingdom of God is indeed both a present and future reality. The Kingdom is already present with us today, but not in its fullest. In the future, the Kingdom will be present in all its fullness, power, and grace in heaven.

So the Beatitudes appear to be God’s judicial pronouncements about the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God the poor in spirit, the mournful, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, the merciful, the pure, the peacemakers, and the persecuted are blessed. Often, in the world these people are scorned, laughed at, and cursed, but in God’s great reversal they are blessed. So you can see these are not only statements of God’s judicial pronouncements of how things are, but likewise they are moral compasses and how things could be or should be. Just like the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, the Beatitudes can be seen as goals and ethics for which Christ followers are to strive.

As you look over this list of Beatitudes which speak to your heart? Which challenge you the most? Which come most natural to you? If these are indeed God’s judicial pronouncements of how the Kingdom of God works, how are you acting as a citizen of the Kingdom of God?
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