Bible with Cross ShadowJesus closed – perhaps we could say summed up – the Sermon on the Mount with a very strong encouragement to “do these sayings of mine”. And so, it is interesting that He begins by talking about things that cannot be done. He begins by instructing us in the way we ought to be.

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“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 filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain 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.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12

As mentioned in A Storm is Coming – These Sayings of Mine, the Beatitudes are not so much things to do as they are attitudes of the mind, or states of being. I cannot “do” poor in spirit, or meek. Even “those who mourn” and “the peacemakers” are descriptions of people, not actions.

So, what do we do about these sayings? Is there a way that we should respond to the Beatitudes? Or, are we left to simply hope the blessings will one day be ours?

I believe there are a couple of things we must do in response to these sayings of Jesus; but first, there are some things we must stop doing. The Beatitudes are attitudes and states that we cannot be in our own strength. Jesus began His sayings, in this way, to show us that we could not do them; to discourage us from wasting our time and energy attempting to renew our minds and make ourselves.

Let’s be clear: This not doing is a very hard thing to not do. We have been taught all our lives to change our minds and fix ourselves. We may not believe in a works based salvation, but we work very hard at saving our lives. This is exactly the opposite of what Jesus is trying to say.

In other words, we must humble ourselves and ask for help. This is the first thing we must do: Confess and believe in our utter dependence on Jesus Christ… for everything.

This leads us to the second thing we must do; for it begs the question, “Then how do I find the blessings?” The Scriptures answer in the simplest of terms:

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:18-20

Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21-22

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Matthew 9:9

Follow Him; that’s it. Follow the One who knows the way to the blessings of the kingdom of God. Follow the One who will make us to be His disciples; to be like Him: Poor in spirit, mourning and meek, pure in heart and merciful, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, peacemakers and persecuted.

Whoa!! Persecuted? Yep, persecuted. Jesus makes it clear that following Him may be simple, but it is not easy. We deceive ourselves – and keep ourselves from the blessings – to assume otherwise.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

Isn’t it good to know the cost up front; to know that what’s offered is worth more than our life? This “knowing” is an important step in the process. There is no point going further into the Sermon on the Mount if we do not reckon it so; that the investment is worth far more than the reward. So, consider – for as long as you must – the blessings of our being made into the disciples of Jesus Christ.

Yes, go back and read the promises of the Master; to those that will follow Him. The gravity of these sayings is unmistakable; for without the blessings of the Beatitudes, we are left with nothing of the kingdom. Consider that carefully: The kingdom, mercy, and comfort; seeing God and being called His sons and daughters. These define the normal Christian life; the life of our eternal salvation.

The Beatitudes are not some sweet introduction to a sermon. They are the context for all that follows; and for all who will follow the One that will make them. This is where we must begin.

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

Humbly yours and forever His,

P.S. I would be remiss not to point out that Jesus encourages us to do one particular thing in the Beatitudes. It is found in verse twelve: Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. So, go ahead. Rejoice that the King would make you!! Rejoice!! Be exceedingly glad – not just sort of glad – that His ways are made clear in our following. Hallelujah!!! Praise be to our God!!