One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. (Matthew 5:1-2, NLT)
This series of blog posts are about what Jesus did to disciple His followers so that we can learn from Him. This is the third post in this series, the second on the Beatitudes. Last week we looked at the first two Beatitudes from verses 3-4 of Matthew 5. Today, we will look at the next three verses.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:5-7, NLT)
Last week we talked about how the Beatitudes paint a picture of a person growing in their understanding of what it means to follow Christ. First, they must recognize their need for a Savior, and second, feel sorrow over their sin. Today I included three verses because they parallel another wonderful scripture found in Micah 6:8:
“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (NLT) In some other translations it says to act justly or to do justice.
In the sermon Jesus preached, he started with humility which makes sense in thinking of a person progressing toward understanding and salvation. Once we realize we have sinned, we must humble ourselves before God.
Called to Humility:
God calls us to be humble, to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, which, in reality, is not very high. In some translations, the word used here is “meek” which means “power under control.” Humbling ourselves does not mean we are wimpy, weak, and useless. Rather is means that we choose to let God lead, and we give up our control on our lives to follow Him fully. We leave our nets and follow Him. We take up our cross daily, denying ourselves, and follow Him. THEN, He can act. Just as it says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, when we humble ourselves, then God can act: hear us, forgive us, and heal our land. It’s like we get out of His way, and He can do what He needs to do and wants so badly to do in our lives and in this world. Matthew 5:5 tells us that He blesses us when we are humble. The humble will inherit the whole earth. This verse, out of all the Beatitudes, seems the most confusing to me. What does it mean to “inherit the earth.” I think it is twofold. When we humbly follow Jesus, we find that all our hopes, dreams, and desires are met in Him. He gives us the desires of our hearts. Those desires are influenced and changed by Christ being the Lord of our lives. In Him, then, we find contentment and purpose and fulfillment like we have inherited everything we could ever want..
But I believe it is also a foreshadowing of our future in Christ. The Bible teaches that Jesus will return and believers will rule with Him for 1000 years. Quite literally, believers will inherit the earth.
However, in this verse, when it comes to finding Christ and following Him, our sincere response to Him after recognizing our sin should be that of humility, basically, throwing ourselves on the mercy of the court, so to speak. Our self-satisfaction, selfish ambition, and pride die in the face of the Truth of our sin and our desperate need for a Savior.
This verse makes me think of two things. First, we are hopeless in our sin. Justice says we are guilty and deserve punishment, actually the death penalty. But Jesus paid the penalty for us. Lately, a group of people have been abusing scripture and saying that Father God is a child abuser murdering His Son. Please, read the Bible. Please know what it says and stand firm on it. Jesus gave His life for us. If you want to understand this more clearly or have some confusion concerning Jesus’ sacrificial gift for us, please watch the movie American Gospel: Christ Crucified. They do a great job of explaining the Truth while also showing some of the abuses and misunderstandings of what the Bible says.
But God is a just God who does not leave sin unpunished. If we do not accept the substitutionary sacrifice Christ made, we stand on our own, and the justice for our sin is separation from God without hope.
Second, it brings me back to Micah 6:8. Now that we seek God’s justice and mercy, we too must love justice and mercy. We act justly out of reverence for what God has done for us. As humbled people, we do not look down on others, but we see that all people are equal and equally need a Savior.
When we come to Christ and follow Him we seek justice. We understand our sin was costly. And we develop hearts of gratitude and humility for what Christ has done. We want to share with the world the wonderful gift God gives and the amazing price Jesus paid to bring justice into place.
At this point in the Gospel, God calls us to show mercy, and then we will be shown mercy. He cannot forgive us if we are holding grudges against others. We must forgive as He has offered total forgiveness to us. If God only cared about justice without mercy, we would not have a Savior. If He only cared about mercy without justice, He wouldn’t be a righteous God.
God is calling us to embrace His mercy and accept His forgiveness, but He is also calling us to extend His mercy and forgiveness to others and to offer our own forgiveness to those who have hurt us. It is a sacrificial gift that we can only accomplish through His help.
These three attributes or Beatitudes show a life that is changing in Christ–a life that is embracing the Gospel and following Christ. We are humble before God accepting His justice and mercy and then sharing it with the world.
For children, these may be big concepts, but children are known for wanting fairness. It is easy to talk to a child about how unfair it is that we sin against God who loves us so much and who created us. It isn’t fair that Jesus had to die in our place, but it is just because it pays the price for our sin so we can be forgiven. God wants to forgive. He is offering it as a gift to us. And when we open that gift, we find not only His mercy and forgiveness, but new life–a life of following and obeying Him, a life of peace and joy, and a life where God is always with us.
Next week we will continue through the next two verses of the Beatitudes.