THE Sermon on the Mount has been twisted to suit more divergent views than any other portion of our Lord’s message. Some have made it the summary of His teaching, as though He said nothing else; while others have transferred it over into a future age with a purely Jewish application, as though it meant nothing for us today. It is true that His message has Israel primarily in mind and its literal fulfillment will be in the kingdom age to come when Christ rules over Israel, but it has a personal spiritual application for us now.
The well-known beatitudes set forth the characteristics of the citizens of His kingdom, and we who believe today should bear these marks of the Mount. The poor in spirit are those who know themselves to be nothing and that their only sufficiency is in Him. They are not necessarily the poor in pocketbook, though, doubtless, most of the poor in spirit are poor in purse. To be poor in one’s own spirit should be the counterpart to being rich in His Spirit: “having nothing, yet possessing all things.”
The mournful are not merely those who mourn in trouble, but rather those who lament their own spiritual weakness and poverty—whose cry is, “Woe is me, for I am undone.” Such tears precede great blessing unless one wallows in self-pity and gets no further.
The meek are the lowly and gentle, not milksops and dish-rag characters as some think. These shall inherit the earth in spite of those who say the only way they could ever get it would be to inherit it. It is the Lamb who finally prevails.
To hunger and thirst after righteousness is a lost experience with most professing Christians—who are too shallow and superficial, or else too fed-up with the lollipops of earth, really to crave deeper blessing. A deep spiritual feast must emanate from a deep hunger and a big appetite!
The merciful are those who are long-suffering toward others, considerate of human weakness, full of love which “suffereth long and is kind.” The pure in heart are those who follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. If the heart be pure there will be no trouble with the conduct, for out of the heart are the issues of life.
The peacemakers are not merely those who arbitrate and settle quarrels, although that is included, but those whose spirit creates an atmosphere of peace. Having peace with God and the peace of God, they make for peace wherever they go.
Few are the persecuted and reviled today for His sake. And, mind you, we are blessed only when we are evil spoken against falsely for His sake. “Falsely for His sake” brings in two important qualifications.
Christians are the salt of the earth, purifying, preserving, creating a thirst for the Water of Life. They keep the earth from putrefaction, as will be proven when the Church is removed. When it is without savor—an empty profession—it is trodden under foot in contempt. We are also the light of the world (Phil. 2:15) even as He is the Light of the world (John 8:12), and our business is not to uniquely shine our light but simply to let it shine that others, seeing, may glorify not us but our Heavenly Father.