The Beatitudes Definition and Significance
Most of us approach the Beatitudes as if they're some sort of platitudinal phraseology and principles on how to live life. And that's usually how they're approached. But that is very far removed from what they actually are. These are like laser guided bombs in the culture that Jesus was preaching to. These quips, these statements, these things that we've come to recite in the flannel board of our youth, are devastating statements that turn Jesus' culture on its ear, completely. It is not what they expected to hear.
It takes aim at all of these prized dispositions and virtues and their worldview. They didn't expect this come out of Jesus's mouth. And wherever Jesus went, he preached these. These aren't platitudinal. I mean these are detonated on the culture. I'll give you an example.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God." That's not what they expected to come before theirs is the kingdom of God. What they expected to hear was, "You're of Abraham, therefore yours is the kingdom of God." What Jesus said was, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." They believed in self righteousness because of who they were. And Jesus says, "Nope. It's actually the broken people, those who recognize their need for God. The poor in spirit, people who are spiritual beggars inherit the kingdom."
He didn't say Abraham. He didn't say the descendants of Abraham and he didn't say Jews, and he didn't say Pharisees. He didn't say good people, he didn't say moral people. He said broken people, those are the one that inherit the kingdom of God.
So Jesus's audience is sitting there, having learned what they've learned from their tradition. And Jesus drops this grenade, and it touches every nerve in the audience. Because every single one of them, underneath the façade of their life realize they actually are poor in spirit. And so he turns the thing upside down. They realize as the bible will go on to explain, that they need a righteousness which is much greater than their own. Which is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 5. "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Basically what he said was, "You're not getting in on your own righteousness."
And so the Beatitudes go through and they just throw off all of these misunderstandings about what constitutes devotion to God. And what man truly needs. It is the Beatitudes which ultimately get Jesus killed. As he explains them in every possible way that he can as they flow, that is their principle and core meaning, through all of his teaching. And put him on the cross, and save those by his death who are poor in spirit.
Why are the Beatitudes Important Today?
The Beatitudes show us what is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, which I define as the rule of the ungrieved Holy Spirit in our hearts, that you could call it the anointing, the Kingdom of Heaven anointing can be used interchangeably when you have the chance to explain what you mean by that.
And so the Beatitudes started with steps that lead all the way to being persecuted, and all these things lead to a greater anointing of the Holy Spirit as the way we understand Jesus, His teachings, the knowledge of God, and it's also the key to the Apostle Paul's teaching of justification by faith. You need to understand that Pauline teaching of justification by faith and the Sermon on the Mount go together. There's no way fully to understand what Jesus meant when he said, "I've come not to destroy the law but to fulfill it."
It's because He fulfilled the law that His death on the cross satisfied the justice of God, and all that the Apostle Paul taught in Romans three, four, five, and six and seven go back to Jesus' understanding of the law, that's where the Apostle Paul got it, and these go together. You need to see the Sermon on the Mount, not as a book of moralistic teaching that some take certain verses out about "Love your neighbor," and "Bless those that persecute you," of course, that's part of it. But they don't realize that the whole of the Sermon on the Mount coheres with Pauline teaching of justification by faith alone.