Matthew 5:1-12 – Kingdom People and Kingdom Promises
Matthew 5 is the beginning of Jesus’ most famous sermon. It is often called the Sermon on the Mount. To understand this sermon in context I first want to read:
Matthew 4:23 – Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the [gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
This is significant because this is almost exactly the same verse as in Matthew 9:35 – Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
These two verses serve as bookends sandwiching five chapters of content. Matthew is summarizing for us Jesus’ ministry. And His ministry involves teaching and healing. Specifically He is proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and He is healing every kind of sickness.
Matthew 5-7 demonstrate what Jesus was teaching about God’s kingdom. And Matthew 8-9 demonstrate what miracles Jesus was performing, healing people, which proved His kingdom.
The word “kingdom” appears 54 times in the book of Matthew, more than in any other book in the Bible. In this book Jesus preaches that the kingdom is at hand. He shows us what the kingdom is, who is in it, what you should do if you are in the kingdom, and the blessings of the kingdom.
Now now notice who Jesus is talking to in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:1 – When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
So it appears He was talking to His disciples. But then look at the very last verse closing this section in Matthew 7:28 – When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching.
So was Jesus talking to the disciples or to the crowds? It looks like that He began talking to His disciples and crowds were forming as He was teaching. More and and more people came to listen. The focus is on the disciples, but others could listen as well.
At church, when you speak and teach, your focus is on the disciples. But others are welcomed to listen. Maybe they are not ready to be disciples yet, but they will be.
So that brings us to the beginning, and most famous part of His sermon. This section is called the beatitudes. This word comes from the Latin, which means “fortunate” or “blessed.”
Remember that the focus of Matthew is the kingdom of God. He often refers to it as the kingdom of heaven, because Hebrews considered God’s name so sacred they didn’t often use it and heaven is substituted.
When you look at this section as a whole you will see that it is about the kingdom of heaven. Verse 3 and verse 10 are another example where Matthew uses something important as bookends or a sandwich of the inside. Each of these verses say, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The kingdom belongs to the people described in this passage. They are in it. And in between this confirmation that they are in the kingdom are 6 promises about the rewards or blessings God offers to those who are in it.
In this passage Matthew shows us 2 things about God’s kingdom.
He shows us about the the people of the kingdom, and the promises of the kingdom.
The People of the Kingdom
Happiness is not found in the world. It is bestowed by God on those who have faith in Him.
The beatitudes is not a list of “do this and you get this” points. God’s favor cannot be earned. Salvation is a free gift. Grace is free. Ephesians 2:8-9. These are not ways to earn salvation or God’s blessings. Rather it is a description of what kingdom people are like. And nobody obtains these character qualities on their own. You cannot make up your mind to be pure in heart and then it will happen. You cannot make up your mind to be merciful and then be suddenly filled with mercy.
All of these characteristics are a result of God first working in you. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We are merciful because He first showed mercy to us. We are pure because He has cleansed us. We are humble, because He has humbled us. Much like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23 describe the result of God’s Spirit working in the life of a believer, so this list describes what God’s kingdom people are like and how they should behave based on His work in us.
So who is blessed? What are God’s people like?
Poor in Spirit –
In the past few chapters we have seen that Jesus and John preached a simple message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This verse is a reminder of this key message. Who can enter the kingdom of heaven? The one who is poor in spirit. A person who is poor in spirit is someone who is humble. It is someone who recognizes that he doesn’t have anything spiritually worthwhile to offer the Lord in exchange for entrance. It is someone who recognizes that he is spiritually bankrupt. In fact, everyone is spiritually bankrupt.
People are totally depraved, which means we have nothing good to offer good, nothing good of ourselves. But most people do not realize it. Jesus may have been thinking of the Pharisees, who believed that they were righteous and could achieve God’s standards on their own.
You must come to God empty and say, “Fill me up.”
Jesus told a parable of one person who did that.
Luke 18:13 – “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
This is a man who is poor in spirit. He knows that God is worthy and he is not.
Owen said, “He that thinks [little] of sin never had great thoughts of God.”
No matter how wicked you realize your heart is, it is much more wicked than you realize.
Someone who mourns certainly doesn’t appear to be blessed. But in this case it refers to someone who mourns over their sin. Their sin causes them grief. They don’t just ignore, tolerate, or revel in sin. Jesus condemned worldly people who “eat, drink and be merry.” Mourning is the opposite of this.
This is a person who truly grieves that his sin causes the Lord to be sad. Ezra is a good example. When he found out that his people had disobeyed God’s law, he fell on the ground and wept for an entire day. He ripped out his hair and tore his clothes. He was devastated by the sin he witnessed. He had no strength, no energy to go on.
In like manner, Isaiah, when he saw a vision of God said, “woe is me!”
These men knew how serious sin was. They didn’t just saw a quick prayer and move on.
Mourning shows the depth of your hatred for sin. Kingdom people are deeply saddened by their sin. And this godly sorrow motivates them to repent.
J.C. Ryle said, “Christ is never fully valued until sin is clearly seen.”
“An attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward men, springing from a recognition that God is in control. Although weakness and meekness may look similar, they are not the same. Weakness is due to negative circumstances, such as lack of strength or lack of courage. But meekness is due to a person’s conscious choice. It is strength and courage under control, coupled with kindness.”
This humility is closely connected with the previous two qualities, poor in spirit and mourning. A humble person recognizes his sin and understands that the only way of salvation is faith in God. A humble person realizes his sin is serious.
Prideful people do not enter God’s kingdom because they don’t think they need help. Prideful people do not confess their sins because they don’t think they have any. Prideful people are like the Pharisees, full of self-righteousness, looking down on others.
So are you a meek person? Careful how you answer!
Hunger for Righteousness
A person who enters God’s kingdom is unsatisfied with the world. He is not chasing after money. He is not chasing after pleasure. He craves something that the world does not offer. He craves righteousness.
Esau is an example of a person who had the wrong craving. He craved for a bowl of a soup and gave away his entire inheritance for it. Most people are like Esau. They are chasing something in this world.
On the other hand, we should chase after righteousness. That desire to be like Christ compels us and pushes us forward. The righteousness does not come from ourselves. It is from Jesus. We come to Him empty and sinful. And we ask Him to forgive our sins and make us righteous.
It happens when we are saved. But like most of these qualities, these are “already but not yet.” When a person comes to Christ he has many of these qualities. He is humble. He is sorrowful over sin. He knows he is empty. He hungers for righteousness. At salvation, these are like a mustard seed. But over the course of the Christian life they are to grow.
A growing believer does not mourn over sin less than when he first came to Christ. He mourns over it more!
A growing believer is not less humble than when he first accepted Christ. He is more humble!
A growing believer does not care less for righteousness than when he first believed. He cares more!
So at salvation, we already have these qualities because of the work God has already done. But after salvation, we are to grow in these qualities because we haven’t yet reached the point we should be.
Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Kingdom people already are poor in spirit, but not yet poor in spirit as they should be!
Kingdom people already mourn, but not yet mourn as they should!
Kingdom people already are humble to accept Jesus, but they are not yet as humble as they should be!
Kingdom people already crave for righteousness, but they don’t yet desire it as they should!
Kingdom people are merciful. Why? Not because we are better than others, but because we have received mercy. We can forgive others because He first forgave us.
God calls His people to be merciful like He is. In the parable of the unforgiving servant, the master forgave his servant a great debt. But then this servant refused to act in like manner. Another servant owed him a very minor debt and he choked him, demanding that he repay all of what he owed.
Since we belong to God’s kingdom, we should be like Him! When we show bitterness and unforgiveness, we are acting completely the opposite of our own Lord who has forgiven us so much.
I have seen a number of cases where Christians refused to forgive. It is so sad to see that. How must God feel watching us be so stingy with mercy when He was so merciful with us? Do we think so little of God that we take His mercy for granted and then harbor bitterness and resentment against brothers and sisters?
I was watching a movie about Richard Wurmbrand. He is the founder of Voice for the Martyrs. Richard was a pastor in Romania when it was occupied by the Soviet Union. He was imprisoned and tortured for his faith. Day after day for years he was mistreated by his guards. On one occasion, they opened the door to his cell and found him praying. “What are you praying for? Your God has deserted you,” the guard said. “I am praying for you,” Richard replied. That is an example of mercy. It is supernatural in origin. He is merely extending to the guard what he received. And when he faces God, Richard will not be disappointed. He will receive mercy from God just as promised here.
Pure in Heart
Kingdom people can be pure in heart because God has forgiven them from their sins. The pure in heart are not deceiving, not manipulating, not lusting, not seeking to get rich. They are focused on God. Their heart is meditating on God. He is the most beautiful, the most awesome, the most holy, and the most glorious to them.
And what is their reward? They will see God! Isn’t that amazing! The ones who desire to see God will. But the ones who don’t want to see God and don’t think or care about Him will spend eternity without Him. In some manner, in the end, God gives each person what they wanted and chose all along.
Kingdom people are peacemakers. What does this mean? It is not about simply trying to resolve an argument between your two cousins. It is not about being silent instead of arguing with your dad.
We are peacemakers because our King is a peacemaker. Jesus came to bring peace between God and man.
Colossians 1:20 – And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
God has in turn called us to bring His message of peace to the world. There are two kingdoms. The kingdom of God and the kingdom this world/Satan.
Every person not in God’s kingdom is His enemy, and destined to eternal judgment. Jesus came to offer peace to those in the kingdom of this world. He offers peace between God and man. That is the gospel message.
And that is what He has called us to do as well.
2 Corinthians 5:18 – All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
You are called to take the gospel message to world. We reconcile people to God. We offer them peace. Thus we are God’s messengers. And note in this verse. It is not just the job of pastors, preachers, missionaries, evangelists. Every person in God’s kingdom, every child of God has the same task, to be a peacemaker.
Are you a messenger for peace? Are you accepting the world’s terms for peace by living like they do or are you telling them God’s terms for peace?
Persecuted because of righteousness
Kingdom people hunger and thirst for righteousness. We saw this already. And they are satisfied. God makes them righteous and sanctifies them. That means that they are living in a very different way than the world around them does.
The world wants conformity. They want you to be like them. They want you to sin like they do. Because if you sin like they do then they will excuse their sin saying, “everyone does it.” And they will suppress the guilt they feel for their sin because no one is calling them out for it.
But when you live a righteous life and call others to do the same, you attract the world’s attention. You are the one shining a flashlight in their eyes and it hurts. They feel the guilt and the same. Their conscience tingles. And it is an unpleasant feeling. What is more, you say you live that way because of Jesus. That makes them more angry. You appeal to a higher standard, an authority who will hold us account.
People are rebellious. They don’t want a moral authority and they don’t want to be held to account. That is why idols have the appeal that they do. An idol will never challenge or rebuke anybody. And that is why evolution has the appeal that it does. The random force of nature that supposedly made the world does not have morals and does not require people do either. Therefore kingdom people will be persecuted.
This is to be expected. Jesus told His disciples not to be surprised when people hate them because they hated Him first.
So the last beatitude is a result of following all the previous ones. If you have a changed life, then the world will notice. And they won’t like it.
You see what a kingdom person is like? A person in God’s kingdom has been CHANGED. It is a false understanding to think you can be saved without a being changed. God expects that a believer have a changed life, changed actions, changed attitude. The recognition of our emptiness and the sorrow for sin demands that we come to God for help. And He then fills us and changes us.
The eternal blessings God has in store for His people will be given only to those who have become new creatures – Piper
Salvation is more than just praying a prayer. It is more than raising your hand. It is more than saying, “I believe in Jesus.” We must humble ourselves. We must call out to God in desperation. Then by His power, we live a changed life.
This passage does not say that you can go to heaven whether or not you show mercy, as long as you believe. It does not say that you are sons of God whether or not you are pure. The passage says that you must show mercy. It says that you must be pure in heart. It says that you must mourn for sin. You must be poor in spirit.
Obedience is not optional. It is not a series of suggestions.
A life without mourning for sin, without mercy, with a hunger for righteousness is on shaky ground. It is built on the sand. I am here this morning to warn you that your actions are important. If you are truly belong to God’s kingdom, then you must live like it.
The Promises of the Kingdom
So what is God’s kingdom like? What does He offer? One time I met a guy who asked me, “If I believe in Jesus, what do I get? Will He help me immigrate?”
God’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom with spiritual blessings.
Note that in each statement, Jesus says, “Blessed are.” He does not say that you will be blessed. It is not just something that God will do for believers some time in the future, or after they die. Followers of Jesus are blessed. Right now.
Ephesians 1 says that God offers “every spiritual blessing.” Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.”
God’s blessings are available now! People of the kingdom live a life filled with His blessings.
How are they blessed?
We see that most of the blessings listed here are not physical or material. He doesn’t promise wealth. He doesn’t promise prosperity. He doesn’t promise health. He doesn’t promise a smooth life. The blessings instead are spiritual. They relate to our spiritual position and our joy and satisfaction.
When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king, He said that His kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom of God right now is not a physical kingdom with physical blessings. It is a spiritual kingdom with spiritual blessings.
Let’s look at these spiritual blessings:
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven
This is repeated twice. It is the first and the last blessing. It is quite simple. God’s people do these things. They are in His kingdom. It is made up of people like this. And all its riches, everything it has to offer, are given to them.
It is the promise of eternal life. It is both heaven later and abundant life in Christ now.
It is given not to the rich, the self-righteous, or the respected. It is given to those who have spiritual humility and say, “Help me for I can’t help myself.”
For they shall be comforted
God promises forgiveness of sins. There will be a final comfort for believers when every tear is washed away, every pain gone, every sadness turned to joy, and every sin confirmed to be paid for as we are made perfect forever in God’s presence. But there is also a comfort now to those who mourn for sin.
God does not hold your sin against you. When you confess, He removes it as far as the East is from the West. There is comfort in the promise of forgiveness.
And this comfort is the greatest comfort of all. How can you comfort someone who is going to spend eternity in hell? If a child is about to die of cancer and stubs his toe, can you comfort that child and tell him “Don’t worry. It will get better.” His toe is not the issue! It doesn’t matter if his toe gets better if he is going to die of cancer.
In the same way, there is no comfort for a person who is still living in sin. Often times when people die others will say “RIP.” Rest in Peace. And they will say, “at least he is not in pain anymore.” But you can’t say this about an unbeliever. They are not resting in peace. There is no comfort for them. And there is no comfort for their family.
God gives real comfort to those who repent of their sin. And though they may face temporary afflictions, these pale in comparison to the eternal blessings in store for them.
If you are facing trials or pain today and you are in God’s kingdom already, be comforted by this verse. And use it to comfort others.
They shall inherit the earth
Everything belongs to God. And as His children, He gives us an inheritance. Mostly, this is spiritual. But He also promises to take care of our needs. And He uses this world to take care of us. One day we will be part of His millennial kingdom.
There is certainly no need to compare with others or boast because our Father owns it all! And He shares the very best of it with us.
They shall be satisfied
God fills our spiritual hunger. People try to fill this void with all kinds of things, many of which Solomon explored in Ecclesiastes. Sex, relationships, money, drugs, achievement, power, thrill-seeking, reputation, fame, alcohol, and entertainment are a few. Satan and the world make big promises. And people fall for it. Pursuing the world energetically, they seek to fill up the emptiness inside of them with the best that the world has to offer.
But invariably they find out that the big promises were lies. None of these things provide lasting satisfaction. The more they pursue them, the thicker the chains and the heavier the guilt they experience.
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
The one who comes to Jesus empty, He will fill.
They shall receive mercy
We will be forgiven!
They shall see God
This is the best promise of all. Kingdom people will see the King. Are you looking forward to heaven? Heaven is good, right? But someone one said, “I don’t want to go to heaven unless Jesus is there.” Heaven with God’s presence is nothing. Its not about the streets of gold. Its not about the beauty. Its not even about our pain being gone. Its about seeing our Savior face to face. And in His face seeing His mercy, compassion, and tender love for us.
They shall be called sons of God
Kingdom people are children of the King. God elevates His enemies and makes them His sons. Then He gives them all the rights and privileges that sons have including an eternal inheritance.
I was thinking about how to conclude such an amazing and rich passage. And then I realized, Jesus concluded it already. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached about the wise and the foolish man. The wise man built his house on the rock and foolish man built his house on the sand. The wise man is the one who hears Jesus words and obeys.
So will you be wise or foolish? It is foolish to think that we can just pray a prayer stating our belief in God and then our lives how we want to and we are saved and in the kingdom.
Jesus tells us what kingdom people are like. Are you like that? Are you poor in spirit? Do you realize how wicked you are? Does your sin cause you to mourn? Do you think of sin as a nuisance or a minor problem? Or do you realize that it is a serious offense and displeases God Almighty?
God blesses people who are like this. He blesses those who come to Him empty and ask Him to fill them.
I would like to close in prayer. Spend a moment to meditate on these verses. And come before God. Acknowledge the depth of your sin. Acknowledge how serious it is. Mourn for it. Pray over each of these verses asking God to give you each of these qualities. And finally, thank God for His forgiveness and His blessings.
Which of these beatitudes was most convicting to you? Why?
What can you do to develop a heart that is sorrowful toward sin and hungry for righteousness?
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