Doug Batchelor - The Beatitudes, Eight Keys to Joy and Peace - Part 1
I read that a few years ago, the magazine "Psychology Today" did a survey and they asked 52,000 Americans, "What will it take to make you happy?" And most of the answers that were varied basically said their happiness would depend upon circumstances instead of issues of the heart. For example, they say, "I would be happy when I get out of school. I'll be happy." And then they would say, "When I get a job, I'll be happy." So it wasn't just school, then they need a job. But once they got the job, they said, "I'll be happy when I get married." And then they said, "I need a job that makes more money now that I'm married." No, I just threw that in. Then they said, "If I could have children, then I'll be happy." And it's interesting, right after that, honest to goodness, it says, "When the kids leave home, then I'll be happy." Then it says, "When I'm able to retire, then I'll be happy." Well, I think at that point just everything's about over.
You know, the Bible teaches that true happiness, real Christian happiness, is not the victim of circumstances. It's something that you have within. And as circumstances change, the devil cannot take away your joy and your happiness. Jesus taught what the source was to real and lasting happiness, and it's in what we call the Beatitudes. Now, I thought it might be a good idea just to create the foundation for what we'll be talking about is just read them together. And so if you have your Bibles, turn to Matthew 5, and I'm going to read through verse 12. It doesn't take long. Then we'll back up and we'll do some expositional study as we proceed.
Matthew chapter 5, verse 1, "And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated the disciples came to Him. And He opened his mouth and He taught them, saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'"
You know, it's probably good to do a little introduction that just talks about what's going on here. You've got the who, the when, the where, the why, and the how in the delivering of the Beatitudes, so bear with me because I think this will be helpful. So you read in chapter 5, verse 1, it says, "Seeing the multitudes, He went up on the mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened his mouth and taught them." So it's a good idea to look first at who are the Beatitudes coming from? It's good to know something about the background of the one speaking.
These teachings are coming from the greatest teacher, the one who has the greatest authority. Basically, you've got the Creator, because all things that were made were made by Him. So He has the owner's manual. He knows exactly what we need for real happiness. Who could understand better what we need than the Creator? You've got the Redeemer. It talks in the Beatitudes about salvation, and the one who was going to die for our sins understands best what is necessary to be saved. So He's qualified to talk to us about these things. And then ultimately, He's also the Judge who is going to separate the wheat from the chaff and the goats from the sheep. And so He knows what it will take for you to go from cursing to blessing and He has the answers here in His teaching.
What about the when? Well, when Jesus sat down and delivered the message, He's still 30 years of age. It's a few months into His ministry. He's been baptized. John the Baptist points to Him and says, "This is the Lamb of God." Some disciples began to follow Him. He left them for 40 days in the wilderness, came back filled in a special way with the Holy Spirit. He performed some miracles, like when the man came down through the roof. He did some healing. He had done some preliminary teaching. Because of the miracles and His teachings, the crowds were swelling.
So it's still early in His ministry. John the Baptist is not in prison yet. He's still preaching down at Jordan, but Jesus is now working around Galilee, the Sea of Galilee, sometimes called Gennesaret, sometimes called the Sea of Tiberias. Same sea. It's like, you know, Mount Sinai is also called Mount Horeb. You've got a couple of different names for it. So this was a time of great oppression. They were occupied by the Romans.
It was a time of spiritual oppression. The religious leaders were so engaged in a round of ceremonies that they really missed the understanding of what it all pointed to. They were preoccupied with the show of religion, praying, and giving, and fasting to be seen. They wanted to fight for the best seats. There's a lot of spiritual pride in the nation and they misunderstood what the mission of the Messiah was. Because they were being oppressed by the Romans, they were living in great anticipation that a King would come, but they didn't understand the nature. They thought the Messiah was going to come in like David and be given all the strength of Samson, and the wisdom of Solomon, and the courage of Elijah, and He was going to overthrow using military force the Romans. Even the apostles misunderstood.
But in spite of that, Jesus at this point when He delivers the Beatitudes, shortly before, He picks 12 of them, and He ordains them, and He sets them aside even though they had still much to learn. The where of the Beatitudes. Well, it's not far from the Sea of Galilee. The weather gets very warm there in the summer, and so possibly, you know, one time when it was cooler, they went down by the sea because wasn't so bad, and He pushed out in the boat, and He taught them. This time they need a little elevation to cool off. He leads them up the mountain. He finds a great natural amphitheater, because it tells us there's great multitudes that are following Him. There's a knoll, some prominent spot on the grass, it may have been a crag, where He sits. And then through the disciples' example, they sit and the multitudes all sit, and He begins to teach. So it's a mountain.
And then how. I think it's interesting. It says, "He sat." He didn't stand and teach as I'm doing now. A few more years, I'll probably sit and teach, but for now I can stand. He sat. His posture was one of solemn declaration. He's getting ready to issue his teachings, like Solomon on his throne ruling a judgment. And so when Christ sat down to teach, they understood there was a sense of expectation. He's getting ready to tell us. He's going to introduce the kingdom. Because you see, when He was baptized, He started saying right away, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." And they said, "Oh, it's about to happen. He's going to arm us all." They kept, even when He fed the multitudes, they said, "Oh good, we figured out how to feed the army. Now let's attack." They almost made Him a king by force because they misunderstood the nature of His kingdom.
So He sits down. And then we're going to go to the section where He begins with a blessing, and I'm just going to talk about blessing. And I guess I should tell you what does the word "blessing" mean here in the Greek? It comes from the word "makarios," and it means to be supremely fortunate, well off, happy. Yes, God wants you to be happy. Contrary to what you may have been taught or told, God does want you to be happy, but you are not to pursue happiness as an objective. You are to pursue God and holiness, and in discovering God and holiness, you will find real happiness. If you get that equation backwards, you will never find happiness. It's not going come through the job, or the school, or the kids, or the marriage, or retirement. It's going to come through finding God.
Jesus said, "If you will lose your life, then you find it." You let go of everything. You surrender to Christ. You take up your cross and then you find the greatest joy and happiness. And that's all borne out as we go through the different Beatitudes.
Now, how many of you have memorized the Ten Commandments? I think I could do it. I might stumble on a little adjective here, but I think I know them. Have you memorized the Beatitudes? We remember the law, "Thou shall not," but what about the blessings? And in the Beatitudes, keep in mind the Beatitudes are not just a hodgepodge like a bouquet. They are given in sequence. They are steps, each one leading to an each one needing to precede the one that follows. In other words, why are the mourning mourning? Because they recognize they are poor in spirit. And so it's a progression.
And finally, when you are living it out, you are pure in heart, and you are being a peacemaker and a witness for the Lord, then you're going to get persecuted. See how it works? And so it's a progression. So it's good to know that this is given in steps.
But now I want to get into the first of, I think we'll cover three of the Beatitudes. So He begins and He says, "Blessed are the poor." Not just poor, poor in spirit. Now, I need to let you know that when you go to Luke, Luke actually does say, "Blessed are the poor," and he doesn't say "in spirit." And he says, "Blessed are those that mourn." And Luke does talk to the poor people in particular because so many of the poor followed Jesus, and it seemed it was easier for the poor, the financially poor, to embrace being poor in spirit.
So what does this mean? "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Who would want to be poor? Well, if it's poor in spirit, it means blessed are those who realize their spiritual bankruptcy. Let me give you some Bible examples of that. It's talking about those who are humble and lowly in their own eyes, because they recognize their weakness. When David sinned, he thought he was the king. He thought he was starting to think a little too much of himself. But after his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, he says in Psalm 51, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart... These, O God, You will not despise." He said that under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and it is true that when you have become brokenhearted, like Peter went out and wept bitterly, then God was able to fill him with the Holy Spirit. There was a brokenness because of his sin, David, and Peter, and others. It's like when Isaiah sees God high on His throne and he says, "Woe is me. I am undone." You see God in His holiness.
You know, when Solomon first has that dream and God says, "What shall I do for you?" Solomon, when he received that great wisdom of God's Spirit, he begins by saying, "I am bankrupt." I'm paraphrasing. He said, "I am just a little child. I don't know anything. I don't know how to go out or come in, and here I'm suddenly responsible for this great people and I've got to follow in the footsteps of the greatest king, my father David. Lord, I'm inadequate." And God says, "Now you're beginning to understand. Now I can bless you with wisdom, and might, and power, because you know that without Me, you're nothing." God was able to bless Solomon when he had that humility in his heart, being poor in spirit.
You remember reading the parable of the tax collector and the publican, the Pharisee and the publican. Luke 18:10, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood, he prays thus with himself." He wonders if he's talking to God or is he just praying to himself? "God, I thank You that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector," looking at the guy in the back row. "'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' Whereas the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but he beat on his breast and he said, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'" And it says, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other." Why? Because he humbled himself. He realized that we are nothing without the Lord.
It's like Jesus said, you don't know that you are poor, and wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked. So knowing our condition is a prerequisite to the Lord giving us the true riches, and the white garment, and the eye salve, and everything He offers there in Revelation.
You know that story of the man, he's caught mismanaging the king's money, and it comes to public knowledge. He owes 10,000 talents. Do you realize what a fantastic amount that is? That was, 10,000 talents, someone wrote, was the annual budget for the whole land of Israel for one year. I mean, this is like government money. They say, you know, $50 trillion. I don't know what are our national debt is right now. Anyone know? It's like $17 trillion. Does that number even make sense? How much is it? Twenty-two trillion. Twenty-two trillion and counting. You know, it doesn't bother me anymore having it 22 than it was when it was 15. I mean, you just think about that and I could go $10 trillion or so. It just doesn't shake me at all.
Those numbers, well, that number, when Jesus said 10,000 talents, it's that kind of number, because these are talents. It's a weight and it's like gold or silver. It didn't matter. It's so much. And so the man unable to pay comes before the king and says, "Have mercy. I can't pay." The king says, "I'll have mercy." When he realized there was no way I could ever pay, he says, "Then I'm going to have mercy."
You and I, there's nothing you could do, there's no way you could ever pay for your sins. We are poor. It's not just poor, we are bankrupt. We are ruined. There's no recovery. There's nothing you can do to ever get it back. And when we recognize that, He says, "If you come to me and you realize it," it's like the prodigal son when he comes home. What has he got? He's wasted everything. He's got nothing. He's got rags. It's how we come to Jesus. Mark 12, verse 43, He says, "Assuredly, I say this poor widow has put in more than all those who've given to the treasury; for they all put in of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had."
You know, when we come to Christ, we basically need to cast everything aside and realize we have nothing. So what is the reward for them? It says one of these days they might get the kingdom. Is that what it says for the poor in spirit? No, "Theirs is." Now, is that present tense? You notice when Jesus started preaching, and John the Baptist, He said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven," is on its way? "Is at hand."
Now, this to me, it was the most mind-blowing thing that I had to share today. I don't know if you'll feel that way, but that's what I thought. That means that if this is true, no matter who you are, if you recognize that without Christ you are nothing, you have nothing, that you can leave today and God says you can be an owner of, present tense, the kingdom of God.
Alright, we're going to go to step number two. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." You know, my heart went out yesterday. I was driving down the hill. Actually it was two days ago. I was driving down the hill and... no, it was yesterday. Doesn't matter for you, but I just want to be telling the truth. It was yesterday. I was coming back from getting my Chipotle burrito. How much more information do you want? On Interstate 80, and off in the distance, I've seen this before, you see a poof from the highway go up. It's not a good sign.
There was an accident. One car hits another, and sometimes a radiator explodes, and you'll see a proof of steam go up, and sometimes worse, there's smoke. And I saw all the cars began to slow down. The police had not arrived yet. And I'm going... I'm going... now, where am I going? West. This was an eastbound lane, and so I thought I better take a look. And I get over, you know, like the looky-loos. I get over to see what happened, and by the time we crawled up to where the accident was, two or three cars, at least three cars, were pulled over on the shoulder. And I saw this one guy and my heart just broke for him.
It looked like a young man. I'm not even sure it was his car, but he had rear ended somebody. Front of the car was all smashed. And it didn't look like anyone was hurt. Steam was coming out of the radiator. And he had his arms folded and his head on his arms on the hood of the car, and he was just mourning. You know that feeling like, "Oh no, this is the last thing in the world I needed." And he was just so overwhelmed, I just felt like crying for the fellow. I could just tell he hadn't planned that that day. And I just prayed for him. I said, "Lord, help him know that someday this will pass."
But do you ever have that feeling of just anguish? Well, when you realize that you're bankrupt, you will feel that sense of anguish. Amos 8, verse 10, "I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and its end like the bitter day." Why is there mourning when we become poor of spirit? We realize our sins. We realize what our sins cost. Don't you usually mourn when there's a death? And to be saved, there's really two deaths. There is the death of Jesus, and we realize He died for us, and that brings about our death. We take up our cross and we follow Him. We are crucified with Christ, right? But then He's blessing the mourning. And Revelation ultimately tells us, "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will be no more death, sorrow, or crying. There will be no more pain."
But I want to assure you that that comfort is not just when we get to heaven. When you mourn even in this life, God will then comfort and you'll end up having peace. And then the final point for today is the meek. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." You know, I think Jesus may have been quoting from Psalm 37. Tell me what you think. Verse 11, "But the meek will inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace." So that's what we're talking about today, how to have that joy and peace.
You know, people who are proud are never peaceful because they never have enough. They never have enough power. They never have enough attention. They're always insecure. And so they're always restless. But when you finally realize you're poor, and you've mourned, and God has comforted you, you've got this meekness about you that, you know, it's not easy to be insulted or to be hurt. Jesus said, Matthew 11:29, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly." He's calling us to follow Him.
Jesus was meek and lowly. He's calling us to have that same humility. "I'm meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest." Through meekness, you find rest. So much of our dissatisfaction is because of our pride. We're upset with other people, what they think, or what they say, and it's really a form of selfishness. Someone said you're never more like the devil than when you're proud. It's through pride that Satan was cast out of heaven. And yet Jesus is the one who made Himself of no reputation. He went from God, He became a human. He not only became a human, He became a humble human. He became a meek human, born in a barn human. I mean, He took the lowest position that God might exalt Him. Yet in the world, we're always fighting for recognition.
I've been reading a book by John Calvin the last few weeks and, you know, Calvin makes a comment. He says all of us have this kingdom in our breast that must be subdued. We want to be king, always thinking about ourselves. It's a kingdom of I, and I thought, "Yeah, I can resonate with that." My biggest problem is me. John Calvin, when he died, he gave strict instructions that he be buried in a common cemetery with no tombstone. He had his friends bury him in an unmarked grave somewhere there in Geneva. And to this day nobody knows where his grave is because he said, "I don't want anyone making a shrine out of my grave." He understood there was that danger.
Bible tells us that this is the key to that happiness is knowing that it all comes from the Lord. He's offering us that peace. "Great peace have those that love His law and nothing will offend them." Would you like to have that peace and that joy, friends? And it comes from being poor in spirit, recognizing that we're mourning for what Christ had to pay because of our sins, and willing to take up our cross and follow Him, and then follow Him meekly.