Matthewby Mike Raiter
Each of the Beatitudes, or Blessings, describes both the identity of Jesus' true disciples and then their destiny.
It is surprising when Jesus announces that the most blessed, or most favoured by God, are the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, the merciful, the pure, the peacemakers, and the persecuted. These descriptions are plain statements of fact, not commands. They are all drawn from the Old Testament's descriptions of God's faithful people, who look to the only One who can help them, especially in times of crisis (see Isaiah 61).
″Blessed are the poor in spirit″ (v. 3) serves as heading for all the Beatitudes. Poverty of spirit speaks of those who recognise their essential helplessness. They lack the resources needed to change their circumstances, whether material or spiritual. Such people look to the Lord, the only One who can provide all they need. Jesus announces that the most blessed people are those who are aware of their utter dependence on God and have a single-minded devotion to Him.
It's important to remember that the Beatitudes are all different ways of describing the disciple of Jesus; it is the same person described from different perspectives, just like how we can describe a Christian as born again, justified, a saint, and a member of the body of Christ. You can't be one and not be the others. The disciple of Christ mourns, hungers for righteousness, and is a peacemaker.
We must not forget the final beatitude: blessed are those who are persecuted because of their allegiance to Jesus (v. 10). This is just as much a feature of the true disciple as meekness and purity of heart. God's faithful people have always been the object of abuse. Don't be surprised when the world opposes you. Indeed, be surprised if it doesn't.
It is good to be reminded of our true identity. The world either ignores God's people as being of no consequence, or actively abuses and maligns them. In the end, there is only one opinion that matters: God's. And God says His children are the truly blessed ones.
True disciples of Jesus are described as ″poor in spirit″. In what ways are you conscious of your spiritual poverty?
What are the practical marks of someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness?