Matthew 5:1-16 - Homiletics
The sermon on the mount. The first part of the sermon: the law of the kingdom of heaven.
I. THE BEATITUDES .
1 . The first Beatitude.
2 . The second Beatitude.
(a) It seems a paradox. Sorrow and joy are opposed to one another; but the Lord says that there is a sorrow which is blessed. Life is full of sorrows. There is more sorrow in the world than joy, more pain than pleasure. Outward sorrows are blessed if they are meekly borne, in patience and in trustful faith. When the sorrow is recognized as a chastisement, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness; when the pain is taken as a cross, it lifts the suffering Christian nearer to him who died upon the cross, who giveth peace.
(b) But the connection seems to imply that the mourning of the text is spiritual mourning. The poverty of the first Beatitude is in the spirit; so must be the mourning of the second. Poverty in spirit leads to mourning—mourning for past sins and unworthiness, mourning for the slowness of our spiritual progress. He who is poor in spirit is in the kingdom of God and near to the King. He looks on him whom he has pierced, and mourns for him. He must mourn, in sympathy with the Saviour's sufferings, in sorrow for his own unworthiness of the Saviour's love, for his many sins against that great love, for his want of gratitude, for the coldness of his heart. The world runs heedlessly after pleasure, amusement. The Lord says, "Blessed are they that mourn." He himself was "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." "Is it nothing to you," he seems to say, "all ye that pass by." Is there any sorrow like unto my sorrow?" Then we Christians, who live under the shadow of the cross, must learn the blessedness of mourning. "Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of." Blessed are they who mourn with that godly sorrow. It worketh repentance, that deep and holy change of heart, that change out of the image of the earthy into the image of the heavenly, which is not to be repented of, which none who by God's grace have passed through it can ever regret, though it was wrought out in much sorrow and mourning; for it is unto salvation—a present salvation, salvation from sin now; and a future salvation—everlasting life with God in heaven.
3 . The third Beatitude.
4 . The fourth Beatitude.
(a) Righteousness here is equivalent to holiness—personal, spiritual holiness, holiness of heart and life. It is the sum of all Christian graces. But we have no righteousness of our own: "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Christ is made unto us Righteousness: "This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." If only we are his, grafted once into the true Vine, abiding in him now, then his righteousness is ours, for he himself is ours. "My Beloved is mine, and I am his."
(b) We must hunger and thirst after this righteousness. The desire of the Christian heart is righteousness; not simply happiness hereafter, but righteousness now. All men wish for happiness, present and future. The true Christian wish is for righteousness first; happiness will follow. "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." It is righteousness that the Christian soul desireth. And that desire must be like hunger and thirst; not a faint hesitating wish, but a strong longing desire—a desire that cannot be satisfied till it has attained its object. Hunger and thirst imply a previous void, a want. The desire of righteousness implies a sense of sin and weakness. There is a felt want in the soul, a craving, an aching void—a longing like that of David expressed in the fifty-first psalm; not the fear of punishment, but a longing after a clean heart—after the Holy Spirit of God. To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to hunger and thirst after Christ. He is our Example here as always. His meat was to do the will of him that sent him, and to finish his work. He hungered for our souls, he thirsted for our salvation; and we must hunger and thirst after him, who is the Life of our souls, the true Bread that came down from heaven, whose flesh is meat indeed, whose blood is drink indeed, who alone can fill our restless craving hearts. "He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
5 . The fifth Beatitude.
6 . The sixth Beatitude.
7 . The seventh Beatitude.
(a) Peacemakers are happy in themselves. Which are the happiest—the cross-grained, the irritable, the conceited, always ready to take offence, perhaps even loving to stir up strife? or the gentle, the kindly, the affectionate, who love peace, who do all they can to make peace in their family, in their parish, among all their neighbours and friends; and that for Christ's sake, out of love for Christ, in humble imitation of Christ's example? "Blessed are the peacemakers."
(b) But especially blessed in this—that "they shall be called the children of God." They shall be called his children, because they imitate his only begotten Son; because they keep the first of all the commandments, and the second, which is like unto it; because they bring forth the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace. Only those who are led by the Spirit are, in the deepest and holiest sense, the sons of God.
8 . The eighth Beatitude.
II. THE DIGNITY OF THE CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM .
1 . They are the salt of the earth. They have salt in themselves. The salt is the grace of God; but those who have that salt in themselves are, in God's great condescension, called the salt of the earth. Salt preserves from corruption. The grace of God preserves his saints. They preserve the earth in which they live. They check the progress of corruption. Their purifying influence spreads more or less through the mass, which would otherwise fester and decay. Their prayers avert the sore judgments of God; ten righteous men might have saved the wicked Sodom. They must take heed not to lose the heavenly salt themselves; without it their usefulness is gone. The profession of religion without the power of the Spirit is dead and worthless. If that is lost, nothing else can supply its place. Forms, words, outward show, cannot fill the place of the Spirit. A Church without the Spirit, a Christian without the Spirit, is like the Church of Sardis: "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."
2 . They are the light of the world.
1 . Blessedness is exceeding precious, deeper than all joys; it may be ours.
2 . The blessed life is very lovely; all admire, few only imitate.
3 . Live the Christ-like life; so shall you share the Christian blessedness.
4 . Quench not the Spirit; stir up the gift of God; so shall the holy light shine far and wide, and men will glorify the Lord.
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