DUNCAN/The kingdom citizen’s blessedness
Please turn in your Bible to Matthew 5:1-12. Over the last three weeks, we have looked at the character of the Christian as it is described in the Beatitudes. In relation, we have also seen specific blessings pronounced by the Lord in this passage. But Jesus’ purpose in giving these blessings is not so much to draw our attention to those character qualities as to draw our attention to the blessings themselves.
Specifically, we have seen eight blessings pronounced by the Lord Jesus Christ. Seven of them are pronounced upon character qualities of the Christian, and one of them is pronounced upon the circumstances in which Christians find themselves.
However, it is important to note that the blessing in the first Beatitude and in the eighth Beatitude is the same blessing where Jesus says, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” in referring to both “the poor in spirit” and to “those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” That reminds us that there is an over-arching blessing and that all of the other Beatitudes are aspects of that grand blessing.
It is not that some Christians get some of these blessings, but others do not. It is important to remember that all Christians partake of these blessings. Given these truths, today we will look at a fundamental question that the Beatitudes answer which is “What does it mean to be blessed?”
I. Christians are In and Under the Kingdom of Heaven.
The first blessing we see set forth is the grand blessing in verses 3, 10 and 12. Specifically, it is the blessing where Jesus says that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is the blessing that we have our belonging in the kingdom. The kingdom of God is in our heart. It is the truth that the rule of God, the protection of God, and the power of God in all its magnitude is at work in believers. The Lord Jesus is saying, “Christian, here is My first blessing to you. That which the people of God had been looking for, for over two thousand years, is now a reality in your hearts.” Our Lord is telling us that believers have their place of belonging in the kingdom and that the kingdom is actively at work in their own lives. Christians are already in and under the kingdom and this is the grand blessing that God gives to His people.
II. Christians Have the Blessing of Being Comforted by God.
The rest of the Beatitudes are an elaboration on that great Beatitude. And we see the second one in verse 4 where Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Jesus is telling us here that Christians have the blessing of being comforted by God Himself. Christians receive divine strength and vitality from God in the midst of their trials and temptations. It is a repentant sinner mourning over his or her sin and finding solace and being made happy because of the strengthening and the comforting of God. And so Jesus says that all those who have known what it is to mourn for sin will know My comfort.
III. Christians Are Heirs to the World.
Jesus gives His third blessing in verse 5 where He says, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” He tells us that Christians are heirs to the world. He tells us that restored dominion over the redeemed world will belong to Christians. Jesus is not speaking allegorically here. He is telling us something marvelous. He is telling us that one day the redeemed world will again be put under our stewardship. And even now we are experiencing the restoration of the dominion that God intended for us. The meek, the one who has abdicated his rights, has the world given to him to be a steward for God. Not simply the land of Canaan, but the world belongs to the meek.
IV. Christians Are Fulfilled.
We see yet another blessing in verse 6 where Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Christians are fulfilled. Jesus tells us here that one of the blessings that He gives believers is a complete contentment and satisfaction in life. Contentment is given to those who recognize that they lack holiness and to those who recognize that holiness is inextricably tied into happiness and satisfaction and contentment in this life. And so they long for holiness, they long for righteousness, they long for godliness, and they long to be like God. Jesus tells us that those who long for the kingdom and its righteousness, they will know satisfaction here. That is a promise from the Lord Jesus to believers. Jesus is saying to us , “Seek first the kingdom and its righteousness, and you will be satisfied.” It is only then when we seek first the kingdom and its righteousness that all these things are added to us. That is a blessing to us from Christ.
V. The Christian Is Blessed With Mercy.
In verse 7, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” What is mercy? Mercy is when God helps us to our feet when we have fallen, when He defends us, and when He protects us when we are weak. This truth is perfectly illustrated in the story of the Good Samaritan who aids that abused man who cannot help himself and who is left for dead in the ditch. He is aided by the Good Samaritan and so the Lord shows us mercy in aiding us in our sin in our misery.
VI. Those Who Are Blessed Shall See God.
Finally, in verse 8, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Will they see God visibly? No. That is not the point. The point is that they will enter into fellowship with God. They will know what it is to have true saving knowledge of God. Jesus is saying that those citizens of My kingdom, those who desire more than anything else to fellowship and to commune with the living God, they shall have that communion eternally. As adopted children of God, these blessings are all theirs and these blessings are for them now.
My friend, you may be thinking, “I see none of those character qualities in me.” If you are saying that, come and embrace Christ, and you will know not only those qualities of life, but you will know these blessings of which Jesus is speaking. And if you are a discouraged Christian today, perhaps you have not been meditating on the blessings that Jesus Christ bought with His life on the cross. Know that these are His blessings for you. May our hearts apprehend the truth of God’s Word and may Christ be glorified in our knowing the truth.
The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Duncan pastored The First Presbyterian Church of Jackson for 18 years from 1996 to 2014. He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email.