Today we begin a journey through the Beatitudes (also known as the “Be-Attitudes”). So much has been written and preached about this section of Matthew’s Gospel that it is intimidating to even think about sharing any of my thoughts in the shadows of so many giants of our faith. I could easily spend a week of daily thoughts about each beatitude. But I will refrain, and instead, address one beatitude each day.
Before we begin this journey, let’s use our time today to set up the context for this passage. Matthew begins the chronology of Jesus’ life with His genealogy, identifying Jesus as a descendant of God’s royal family line, and an heir to be king. Matthew then provides a short synopsis of Jesus’ birth and protection from the evil ruler Herod.
Matthew then skips several decades to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, starting with His ministry relationship to His cousin John, Jesus’ baptism by John, and God’s blessing on Jesus. Next comes Jesus’ temptation by the evil one, followed by a time of solitude.
Skipping over to the Gospel of Luke for a moment, we hear Jesus announce His purpose statement, His reason for being on earth, as He quotes the prophet Isaiah:
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
(Luke 4:16-21 NIV)
Jumping back to Matthew’s account, Matthew then notes that Jesus’ cousin (John the Baptist) had been arrested, and that Jesus then relocates to Capernaum and begins His teaching.
Matthew then records the simple message that Jesus then began to teach and preach:
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
(Matthew 4:17 NIV)
Matthew then records Jesus calling His disciples, and the throngs of people that begin following Jesus for various reasons. In the midst of all this chaos, Jesus sits down and in His earthly role as a teacher, He begins instructing His disciples.
His first formal lesson? We call it “The Beatitudes”.
Lord, as we begin looking at this first instruction You shared with Your disciples, I invite You in to be my Teacher, my life guide, my mentor, my friend. I sit at Your feet, ready to learn and live out what I have learned from You. As David said, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:5 NIV)
Will you join me in letting Jesus be your teacher?