The Goal of the Beatitudes

Well, I hope you had the chance to join us this past weekend, either in person in our services or to watch our online service. And if so, you saw that we had the chance to start a brand new message series from the Sermon on the Mount, and specifically the account that we find in Matthew, chapters five, six and seven. And I had the privilege of starting off this sermon series, and I shared how in that sermon, very often, we think of the Sermon on the Mount as a list of morals or ethics, as if Jesus is telling us, hey, I’m going to give you a bunch of things that you need to do. And I asked the question if there was a lot of things that Jesus is giving us to do, hey, here’s 37 things you need to do in order to be made right with God. Would that really be good news?

Is that really the message of the Sermon on the Mount? And I contended that the message of this Sermon on the Mount is not so much about the morals and the ethics, and Jesus does speak about those matters, but it’s really more about what we see in the chapter right before the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew, chapter four says that Jesus, after he was tempted in the wilderness and after John the Baptist was arrested and Jesus ministry begins. It says in verse 17 of chapter four in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus says, repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near. And he then goes on to talk about what the good news of the kingdom is in the Sermon on the Mount itself.

And so the Sermon on the Mount is essentially about the kingdom of God. And we talked about what the Kingdom of God is. I talked about how the crux of the Kingdom of God is essentially the story about a king who has come to create a new people and to reign over them. And so we, as people who seek to follow Jesus, live under the rule and the reign of God himself. And Jesus is the king.

And so that’s what the Sermon on the Mount is going to show us, is what it looks like as people who seek to live under God’s rule with Jesus as our king. But there’s another part of the Sermon on the Mount that we began to just sort of touch on, and Pastor Dan is going to take us further into it this next Sunday. And it’s a little section that we know as the Beatitudes. And one of the things that we do with the Beatitudes where Jesus says, blessed are this group of people, blessed is this group of people. And he describes who the people are in the Kingdom of God who are blessed.

And so we automatically think, okay, if I do these things that Jesus is prescribing, then I will be blessed. And so the question is always before us anytime we see the Beatitudes is what is the end goal? What is the end goal of these blessed that Jesus is stating here in the Beatitudes? Are these conditions or qualifications for salvation? Well that can’t be true because we know we’re not saved by what we do but by God’s grace through faith, not as a result of our work.

So the Beatitudes are not conditions or qualifications for salvation and the end goal shouldn’t be that we’re trying to earn God’s favor by doing these things as if that were even possible because that would represent life sapping self effort, it would represent this idea of earning, it would represent law not grace. And so the Beatitudes are not us going, okay, I’m going to figure out how to do all of these things so that God will be forced to bless me. That shouldn’t be the end goal nor should the end goal be, okay, I’m going to aspire to these things so that people will look at me and say steve, way to go, good for you, you are an outstanding person. No, what these are in the Beatitudes, what we see is part of the values and the character of the kingdom of God and a result of the King ruling and reigning over his people. These are like the fruit of the Spirit that we read about in Galatians chapter five.

The Beatitudes are characterizations of a life that is in sync with God. They’re characterizations of a person who, yes, is absolutely blessed by God. You have God’s favor because you live under his rule and his reign and that is a wonderful byproduct. But the end goal is that these things would be so seen in our lives that others would see those things and want to know the King, not to praise us or to commend us but to want to know the King. Jesus talked about this a little bit later in chapter five, verse 16 where it says that others would see your good deeds and praise your Father or glorify your Father in heaven.

That’s the end goal. These are not to be looked at as a ladder that we’re supposed to try to climb through our own self effort to earn God’s favor. You will be blessed if you demonstrate these in your life and these should be things that we aspire to, but not in order to just have this blessing or in order to earn God’s favor but because God has given us his favor. These are descriptions of citizens of the kingdom of God and they are a natural byproduct of the King’s work in our lives. That is the end goal that people would see how good the King is in our lives as we live out these Beatitudes.

Well, I hope you’ll continue to join us as we go through the Sermon on the Mount such a powerful time. Read Matthew five, six and seven and join us in the coming weeks as we go through this wonderful account. Thanks for joining us today.