WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 30, 2011
LIVING AS GOD’S PEOPLE
(GOD blesses those who realize their need for HIM)
JESUS’, now famous, “Sermon on the mount” demonstrates the standard of righteousness that GOD demands from each of us who profess to be interested in following HIM. Some of these standards are laid out to us in general terms, while others are very specific. There are also others that are apocalyptic in nature, as they refer to, or pertain to, future times.
In Matthew chapters 5-7, the Apostle Matthew highlights JESUS’ most well-known sermon, “The Sermon on the Mount”. It is a discourse which took place on an unknown mountaintop, somewhere in Galilee, and probably near Capernaum, nearly 2000 years ago. There JESUS begins HIS sermon with a series of statements that serve to gradually shape the attitude of those who choose to follow HIM.
In the New Testament Greek, the word used for “blessed” is “makarios” (mak-ar-ree-os) and it describes that “joy” which finds its secret within itself. It is a joy that is serene and untouchable. It is self-contained and is totally independent and immune to the oppressions of this world. It is an attitude that is not affected by the chances and changes of everyday life. It is, in fact, “a Heavenly state of being” that JESUS is speaking of here, when HE first introduces the world to HIS list of “Beatitudes” in Matthew chapter 5, verses 2-11.
Here in this passage, if one looks closely, he can clearly see the difference between “happiness” and “joy”. We already know, through our many life experiences, that happiness is temporal, and tends to leave us every time something goes wrong in our lives. Every time we experience problems and adversity, happiness is the first thing out the door. That is why GOD does not promise us happiness, but rather, HE assures us that, with HIM, we will always have a “joy” that will transcend the sorrows and trials of this world. HE wishes to “bless” us, and to bless us, is to give us a joy that cannot be found in the people and things of this world, but can only be found in CHRIST JESUS. With JESUS, we will be able to experience the bliss of a “permanent joy” that nothing in this world can change or take away.
Reading through this list of beatitudes one can envision a mountain that we need to climb in order to reach the state of mind, or obtain the “attitude” of a person who is pleasing to GOD. Picture yourself at the foot of a mountain ready to begin your ascent to the top, and beyond to the bottom of the opposite side.
The first beatitude JESUS gives us is “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”. A person who is “poor in spirit” is a person who realizes and admits their need for GOD. That is the first step that a person has to make in order to come to GOD, we must first, come to the end of ourselves.
JESUS then says, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted”. To mourn is to “earnestly repent” for having lived a life that was not pleasing to GOD. That is when your heart tells GOD that you are now ready to change your mind about the way you live.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”. To be humble is the step that one must now take. GOD always blesses those who are gentle and lowly.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled”. At this step we can now begin to see over the top of the mountain, as we seek to walk in the light of the righteousness of CHRIST. We begin to hunger and thirst after fairness for others, being fair to others, and living a just life with others.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy”. Now we begin our descent down the other side, as we begin to show mercy to others as GOD shows mercy to us. We now begin to reflect HIS image to others through our own behavior.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see GOD”. We now have a heart for GOD and can now see what GOD is like by looking at the life of CHRIST with a greater understanding.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of GOD. The person who has a heart for GOD has a mind for peace, and they seek peace through their positive actions. He or she works for peace because they now have become a child of GOD through their faith in HIM. He or she can now handle the three battles that every human being faces, The Battle within ourselves between reason and passion, Our battle with each other, and, Our war with GOD HIMSELF, by way of our sins against HIM.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”. Now that we are over the mountain, it is time to go to work for “the GOD WHO sees us”, and WHO saved us from ourselves. We are now fully equipped to triumph over the persecution that we will surely endure because we now live for GOD. Be joyous about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits us in Heaven. Amen.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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