We have been reflecting upon the meaning and implications of the beatitudes of Jesus. We simply must conclude by saying that no one embodies the beatitudes perfectly. It is humanly impossible because of the reality of sin in our lives. Only Jesus embodies the beatitudes perfectly. This actually turns out to be good news for us!
Jesus was the Son of God—perfectly God and perfectly human. He was the perfect example of what it means to be human. Jesus was also poor in spirit—though not in the same way we are due to the presence of sin. He was poor in spirit in the sense that while He was on earth, he lived in daily dependence upon God, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. Everything Jesus did, was done in obedience to the will of His Father.
Jesus also mourned over the presence of sin in the world. He did NOT mourn because of His own sin. He mourned over our sins and the destructive effect that it has had upon our lives and upon our world. Jesus, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, was perfectly meek and humble. In one of the most profound invitations that He gave, He described himself as gentle and meek. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus had a perfect hunger and thirst for righteousness, in the personal sense, in the social sense, and especially, in the future sense. This is why, on the one hand, He displayed holy anger when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple because they had turned His Father’s house into a marketplace. He declared to them His Father’s view of what they were doing.
“My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:13). So, on the one hand, in fierce anger, he overturned the moneychangers’ tables and chased the out of the temple. On the other hand, He welcomes sinners and outcasts to His table—the table of fellowship. Because he perfectly hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and was himself perfectly righteous, He had the authority to show God’s mercy to the multitudes by healing their diseases, by feeding them, and, most importantly, by forgiving their sins. Because all these things were true about Jesus, He was perfectly pure in heart. His will was perfectly undivided in His commitment to do God’s will in every situation.
Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker in that he made it possible for us to have peace with God through the cross. When we believe that He died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, we have peace with God.
Finally, who has ever better embodied the last beatitude—that of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake? From the moment He drew His first breath to the moment He drew His last, Jesus had an undivided commitment to do the will of God. He was perfectly righteous. This means that more than any figure in human history, Jesus was persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Jesus embodied this selfless blessedness, enduring the suffering of His horrific death on the cross. We read in Philippians, …though he was in the form of God [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant… And… he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
Anyone who puts their trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, will receive full and complete forgiveness of their sins. God will credit Jesus’ perfect righteousness to their account and declare that they are righteous in His sight. He will give them His Spirit, whereby they are adopted in to God’s eternal family as sons and daughters. Then begins the life-long process of transformation which changes them into the kind of person whom Jesus described in the beatitudes.
In conclusion, we do not serve a Lord who asks His followers to travel down any road that He hasn’t first traveled himself. We serve a Lord who selflessly entered into the brokenness of this world to give all who would believe in Him a new life and a future; namely the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. Do not settle for anything less. Jesus said, “Everyone then, who hears these words of min and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24). Be wise. Listen to what Jesus says and do what He says. Build your house on the rock. Repent, and believe the gospel!
Hughes, R. Kent, and Douglas Sean ODonnell. Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth. Crossway Books, 2013.