The Beatitudes: List of Rules or Other-Worldly Manifesto?

The Beatitudes: List of Rules or Other-Worldly Manifesto?

SERMON ON THE MOUNT SERIES — VIDEO 2/10 The Beatitudes are super-famous even among non-Bible people, but what do they mean and where do they …


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  1. IamGrimalkin

    Your explanation of "poor in spirit" is excellent, I haven't thought of it this way before and it does actually make the sermon of the mount a lot more coherent. I'll just throw out another idea I heard recently though, which in my mind isn't far behind your explanation: "poor in spirit" refers to feeling sad and raw emotionally due to empathy for other people. I can think of arguments my self, but I'd like yo know own opinions on why you think your idea (spiritual humility) better than that one (empathy)?

    I wouldn't necessarily say that just because you could find links between the beatitudes regardless of order means they can't form a daisy chain, theoretically, it could be every beatitude is formed so any one leads to all the others.
    I don't think this is the case, however. I feel that Aron's case is extremely difficult to get, and I don't see how it would be any easier to get for the original audience, so the only way I can see this working is if Jesus expanded on how they link, or gave that impression in his tone of voice, and Matthew didn't record it. The thing about that, though, is it just shifts the problem onto why Matthew was so vague about it recording this daisy chain, especially since he records link words like "therefore" throughout most of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.

    I agree, the beatitudes are a "picture" of a kingdom lifestyle.

    However, I don't think you really need to pay or provoke people to be persecuted as a christian. If you were going out deliberately to be persecuted as a christian, all you have to do is move to North Korea and openly continue to be a christian. Since Jesus said those words, there always has been the opportunity for that kind of persecution to happen, and I think there always will be (until Jesus comes again). (I would add, though, that my reading of Acts is that when things got too heated, people moved, and that was fine: this verse is not telling you to seek out or refuse to avoid persecution).

  2. Lindsey Swinborne

    I really enjoyed an article written by Colin Smith about the Beatitudes being like rings in a gymnastic arena. Each ring we grasp allows us to push forward and grasp another, leading from one principle to another. Being a visual person, it was a magnificent mental picture for me in understanding this amazing sermon. Of course my particular theological bent leads me to conclude that God is the one who planned for me to be a gymnast, invited me to the gym, got me interested in gymnastics because he can do that, and held me up under the armpits as I swung on the rings. Matt, I don't think this is a sales pitch because the wisdom of God is foolishness to those who are perishing. A smart pastor I once knew said that "Team Jesus" has an upside-down kingdom.

  3. Zack Conn

    Hey Matt, I'm a young adult Latter Day Saint (Mormon). I love your interpretation of these passages. Adding both yours and Aron's together, reinforces how I've come to view to see these passages, that this a way of becoming someone who'd be in the Kingdom of God or becoming as close as we can, only because of Christ's grace.
    Thanks for your opinions! I really enjoy listening to others interpretations of the bible outside of my branch of Christianity.

  4. Lyle Boudreau

    Matt, quick question: how can I get this into audio format only that will let me ingest this during my windshield time? On your tmbh website under Podcasts, I don't see a Save Audio As option, and I'd love to be able to access this when I don't have an internet connection. Thanks Matt!

  5. EmethMatthew

    Dude, I love this discussion! This was the major influencing passage in the development of my theology and it often seemed like a lot of Christians were inconsistent in the logic of their application, especially to politics and the role of Christians and the church! So I'm thoroughly enjoying this take!

  6. David Wood

    Never heard that daisy-chain idea. Fascinating. Not sure I agree, and kind of think (like you alluded to) maybe you can find a way to connect them no matter the order. But it does have that nice parallel with the narrow path. That part made me take it much more seriously. Indeed, it's interesting to me that the FIRST thing that the disciples had to do chronologically was give up their wealth. That would give extra support to this idea of a narrow path too. I'll have to give it some thought.

    When you talk about this as a description rather than instructions, I want to recommend caution. Yes, we can never live up to the beatitudes, just as we can never live up to all the commandments in the OT. This is completely true. But of course we still have to strive for those things. If we don't strive (successful or not), it's hard to argue we really care. Christians who believe in the combination of faith and repentance (Catholics etc.) would put even more emphasis on this striving, whether rightly or wrongly. Just have to be careful that we're not giving people excuses not to try.

    I'd also be interested to hear your thoughts on the beatitudes in Luke. It's certainly written in far more literal terms there. There's a clear duality here if you take both accounts as equally representative.

    Going to say this despite the risk of being controversial: Moving from Europe to the US, I've noticed that American Christians tend to focus on the "spirit", non-literal side of "poor in spirit", in some cases even outright denying that material wealth has any bearing on this passage. This is hugely problematic given the number of references Jesus makes to material wealth, and what he requires of his disciples. I can't help but see it as just a way of making excuses for how we live in the western world, rather than facing up to the reality that we're not living the way Jesus would ask us to (myself included in that).

    It's kind of amazing the range that Christians have in this area. At one extreme you have people who follow the idea of the prosperity gospel, and at the other you have those who would say that anything less than a vow of poverty is not truly living up to Jesus' expectations (since that's effectively how Jesus, the twelve, and the very early church operated). I lean towards the latter. The most common view I see in the US is somewhere in the middle: "It really doesn't matter — money is irrelevant to God, since it's all about the spirit" but I'm not sure I can subscribe to that because Jesus seemed pretty convinced it had relevance, and that the physical in this case most certainly impacts the spiritual in its consequences. Would be curious to know your thoughts on that.

  7. Dale C

    For me, the Beatitudes is where what Christ spoke 'of' begin. The summation of the Beatitudes is surrender. Surrender is where every spiritual journey begins. Surrender is what allows the 'practice' function.

  8. 610GARAGE

    "This can't possibly be a sales pitch." I whole hearty disagree. Ok, this is my first run thought of the sermon on the mount. So I have no bearing to disagree, but that's never stoped me before. 🙂

    Matt, I'm probably pushing it. But remember when we talked about your green screen thing, we got into a disagreement about Christians converting vs spreading truth. My brain went back to that watching this. I think this is what Jesus is doing here. Spreading truth. If he had gone up, and made a speech that stated you all can go to heaven. He would have built a foundation on sand. You know, a normal sales pitch. Leaving out all of the pitfalls. But what Jesus did, He gave the perfect sales pitch. He sold truth. He said that there is a wonderful kingdom. Look at what it takes to get into it. Stuff you can't do. But fear not, blessed are the poor in spirit. I will bless you. A beggar who sees the truth. That is kind of what I see going on here. He dosn't want blind followers. He wants people to understand. To know what they are getting into. To, you know, see the truth.

    Or I'm just sleep deprived and high on welding fumes. LOL 🙂

  9. James Thompson

    When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the hill; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
    (Matthew 5:1-2)
    What did Jesus do.

    First He saw the crowd. But why did they gather?

    The wanted to watch Him to do great things they had heard about. So Jesus climbed a hill, sat down and began teaching.

    I can hear them thinking, “Let’s get to the miracles and stuff.”

    But, no, first they had some hard lessons to learn. Actually not hard, but impossible lessons to learn.

    So, why would anyone want to learn lessons like that?

    They needed to learn that Jesus had to die, the just for the unjust. How did the folks know they were unjust? That’s what this sermon is all about, demonstrating their need for a Savior.

  10. Kenneth Wright

    Matt can you do a video and offer up your opinion on predestination and the thought of the elect? I've heard several thought and sermons that use a lot of Paul's writings from roman to support it and some of it is hard to refute. I don't know your believe on this subject. If you have done a video on this in past I'm sorry I haven't seen it.

  11. Stewbug

    Hey Matt! Loved meeting you in Nashville on Wednesday. I'm your mom with the cool hair 😂. But really though, I'm loving this series. It's really giving me a passion for learning about the Bible that I haven't had before. Can't wait for the next one!

  12. Alex Rosenberg

    I seem to keep reading “poor in spirit” as a reference to those who may not follow mosaic law and religious tradition, since those paths were thought to bring a spiritual richness originally. I feel like the opening here, for a mostly Jewish/gentile audience, was to reset ideals of how spirituality is viewed, saying that an adherence to rituals isn’t how your value is seen by an infinite and loving God, and that even those who are non-ritualistic are welcomed into the kingdom. I’m sure it’s referencing value of worldly possessions as well, but I see a major reseting of expectations either way.

  13. Greg Long

    I'm really enjoying this series! I kind of wish you could spend a lot more time on the Beatitudes just because they are so important to understanding Jesus' upside down kingdom that you touched on. But in reality, you covered it well. Looking forward to the next video!

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