The King’s Speech Beatitudes, part one of six
Author: Margaret Ashmore
“When He saw the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-3
Someone asked C.S. Lewis if he cared for the Beatitudes, “As to caring for it, if “caring for,” means liking or enjoying, I suppose no one cares for it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of a man who can read it with tranquil pleasure.”
God’s Word is compared to five things, rain which gives life, seed, which is life and produces Bread, which sustains life as well as balm that heals when life hurts. It is also likened to a hammer that Jeremiah 23:29 tells us “breaks the rock in pieces”. Such is our Lord’s first sermon, His commencement speech, His proclamation of the Christian’s Manifesto – and while given in the very placid setting of Galilee’s northwest shore, His opening salvo (which is a 19th abbreviation for salvation) is anything but bucolic. It is instead, a hammer that will break the heart’s crust in order to plant the “peaceful seeds of righteousness” (James 3:18) whereby dormant hearts can experience an outgrowth of a life blessed with all the riches of God’s Kingdom, that of deep seated joy, contentment, peace and brotherly love.
It begins with Jesus “seeing” the multitudes. The Omniscient Savior gazed upon the heart of five to 10,000 people gathered there. He looked well beyond the facades of class and culture and countenance to see fearful, angry, empty, discomforted, confused, hopeless and despairing interior lives. But He is about to adorn spiritual paupers with pearls of wisdom, which will fall from His mouth beginning with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
Happy are the humble. Miserable are the proud.
It is of great importance to note that Jesus doesn’t begin with a list of rules but with the keynote of the Beatitudes – humility, which is poverty of spirit. As has been said, it isn’t the outward activities of life but the kind of heart that produces our outer life that matters, so indeed does our Lord commence with the heart, for from it “flows the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) The first call of the first sermon sets the precedence of the entire Christian life, which is “a new creation from the root up, so that new habits are the natural outgrowth of humble hearts” which are in fact, the fruit of the spirit, not of own efforts.
“If our problem is that at root we are very proud and self-sufficient people, and if a moral authority tells us that kindness and faithfulness are virtues, we may very well train ourselves to do kind things and to keep our promises so that we can be proud of ourselves and feel morally self-sufficient before God and man. Then the list of virtues would not have helped us overcome our depravity at all. In fact, it would have deepened our [pride].” John Piper
So, here are some “humbling” essentials to regaining that blessedness of which our Lord speaks – that inward spiritual vigor just waiting to burst forth when the clods of hubris are removed. And mind you, this isn’t a list of moral platitudes, they are sledgehammers to fallow hearts wielded by the Living God Whose redeeming love bids us “with humility, receive the Word implanted which is able to save [sanctify] your souls.” (James 1:21) They are:
· Be often in prayer, a day without it promotes self-sufficiency.
· Read your bible and meditate on its liberating truth. It is the soft rain on the heart from which grows the fruit of the Spirit. It is bread and balm.
· Be in fellowship, Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Sparks may fly in relationships, but that is the Great Metallurgist honing us into the image of His Son.
· Relinquish control. There is nothing that will humble us more than recognizing we are not the Holy Spirit. Let God change the people in your life. He does a much better job.
· Get right with people. It is a diminishing to the self-life when one has to admit they are wrong. But it increases Christ.
· Count others more important than yourself. Enough said.
· Practice gratitude,without which we feel entitled and way too expectant for life to turn out the way we want it, which of course is a “set up” for anger. Be deeply grateful that the hammer blows of life are not those of a gavel’s judgment. Thank God daily for the cross.
· Practice the gospel centered life,which begins with humility. When you start at the bottom the only direction you can go is up, to an “ascendancy of joy.”
· Humble yourself, or God will. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” I Peter 5:6
In the original Greek text Jesus begins with, “Oh, the blessings, the many blessings!” which are not statements but exclamations. He chose the lee shore of Galilee which was a natural amphitheater because of the way His voice would resonate and magnify from the water to shout to the multitudes, “The blessings are too numerous to count if you will become poor in spirit, if you will recognize the beggarliness of your heart and come to Me with all your failures, all your sorrows, all your emptiness and poverty of soul so that I can give you the riches of My Kingdom!” In response, may we all with praise and thanksgiving lift our voices to God, singing:
Fill my cup Lord
I lift it up Lord
Come and quench
This thirsting in my soul
Bread of Heaven
Feed me 'til I want no more
Fill my cup fill it up
And make me whole
The King has commenced His inaugural address. Not from an earthly throne but from a mountain, a more fitting throne for Time’s Monarch, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords – and the True dispenser of everything we need for life and godliness.
Posted on June 3, 2012