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Grace Lutheran Church Weekly Devotion - Matthew 5:1-12

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Reverend Steven Zandstra

Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.  2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:   "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  5"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus begins His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This is not about lacking material possessions.  Jesus is referring to people who realize they are spiritually bankrupt, lacking righteousness and merit before God because of their sins, without the ability to repay their accumulated debt on their own.  Knowing their spiritual condition causes mourning, filled with shame and grief for their sins.  “The meek” of the third Beatitude are a result of the first two.  Now humbled before God w recognize our shortcomings, we hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Christ to cover our sins.  From our humbled position we become “merciful,” kind and gentle toward fellow sinners.  In Zechariah 7:9 God says, “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.”  As the End of Days approaches the world is becoming more and more evil.  As Christ’s people we are to be “pure in heart.”  We should pray daily: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10): So,  “that you may be [counted] blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).  In this world strife and hatred abound, however, Christ does not demand peace at any price.  God’s truth cannot be surrendered.  True peacemakers recognize the cause of all conflicts is human sinfulness, separating mankind from God and turning man against fellow men.  They establish peace through God’s Word and applying the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone.  To spite the world, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you . . . on My account.”  So, to sum up what Jesus is saying, “Live your faith, and testify of your convictions.  Whatever comes your way will come.  It may be hardship, suffering, and persecution.”    Christ is not encouraging voluntary martyrdom.   Jesus is simply urging us to remain steadfast in faith when facing false charges and accusations that may arise on account of whom we believe and put our trust in.  

Like all of Christ’s preaching, the Sermon on the Mount calls us to repent.  The Holy Spirit is faithful, holding our sinful nature up to these descriptions, showing us our sin.  I do not match these descriptions.   At times our hearts are filled with pride and hate, pushing  back against our rivals.  Even trying to save ourselves instead of trusting God and His salvation.

But Jesus perfectly matches every description, He was meek, merciful, pure, and so on.  All those qualities made Him willing to suffer as God His Father, willed.  Since Jesus made peace with God through His blood on His cross, we can now receive every blessing.  Through Holy Absolution in the name of the Holy Triune God, He shows His mercy and comforts us.  Through reading and hearing of Scripture, we see God.  In Baptism, we have been united in Christ’s death and resurrection that “we too might walk in newness of life” (cf. Romans 6:3-4).  The Beatitudes describe the life believers have in Jesus’ name: living under God’s blessing in joy and at peace.  Because God has chosen to give you His comfort, His mercy, He calls you His own child and promises you a life in His kingdom now.  Blessed are you, who believes this.  

I pray that God will grant that the reality of these blessings will ease our pain under the cross and encourage us until Christ returns or until we by our deaths join with all the company of heaven “before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night . . . shelter[ed] with His presence” (cf. Revelation. 7:15). Amen.

825 North 1st West

Cheyenne Wells, CO, 80810-0728

Sunday Service begins at 9:00AM