Beau opened with the question, “How do you feel blessed?” for our discussion around the tables.
He introduced the New Testament text with Old Testament passages, Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:5-8 (passages close to my heart in regards to the roots by the river theme), and explained to us that Jesus is not doing something brand new. Jesus is explaining again the path of blessing with God. God blesses His people when they trust Him.
Also, Beau connected the New Testament with the Old Testament in a couple of other ways: (1) The Torah is 5 books. Matthew contains five teaching discourses by Jesus. (2) In the Torah, Moses went to the top of the mountain to receive the law of God. In Matthew, Jesus taught the law of God from on top of the mountain. Certainly for Matthew’s Jewish audience, they were expecting a Moses-like prophet to come.
Beau titled Matthew 5:1-12 as “God Blesses His People“, organizing the beatitudes or blessings in three main categories: (1) God blesses the poor and oppressed (vv. 3-6), (2) God blesses the righteous (vv. 7-9), and (3) God blesses the persecuted (vv. 10-11).
There is blessing in (1) being in a state of complete powerlessness and totally trusting in the Lord, (2) being a merciful and pure minister of gospel reconciliation, and (3) being persecuted because you are a mighty threat to the devil.
Beau concluded the message by saying that if you don’t find yourself being described in this list, have a talk with Jesus today.
Questions related to the text . . .
Observation (questions for the head):
- Where did Jesus go?
- How many times do you see the word, “blessed”?
- You are blessed if you are what? From memory, try to list as many characteristics as possible.
- Is there a guaranteed promise with each one of the characteristics? What are they?
Interpretation (questions for the head and heart):
- How do you interpret the Sermon on the Mount? Social gospel? Holy law that drives you to grace? Millennial characteristics of a future dispensation? Or the qualities of kingdom living for today?
- Where is the designated location today in Israel for Jesus teaching His sermon on the mount?
- What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? At what level is this type of poverty? Barely making ends meet to pay the bills or abject poverty in the sense that if someone does not help you today, you will perish.
- Does American Christendom need the exhortation of Revelation 3:7?
- How does one get into the kingdom of heaven?
- What does it mean to be “meek”?
- How are these qualities in contrast to King Herod and his sons in Matthew 2?
- How are these qualities in contrast to what Satan would promise/tempt with in Matthew 3?
- Do you know examples of other present kings on the earth who exemplify and stress these qualities for those living in their kingdoms?
Application (questions for the heart and hands):
- Would you like to share a story of past, personal poverty? And remember you can be poor in spirit without being physically poor.
- When was the last time that you mourned before God? What caused the mourning?
- Does your work company emphasize meekness as a healthy trait? Do your Christian friends exhibit meekness? Do they see this in you?
- How do you exhibit a hunger for righteousness?
- How has God been merciful to you? How can you extend mercy to someone that you are having a hard time with this week?
- Is there a situation in your life that could use some peacemaking?
- Are you known to be a peacemaker? Are you spreading God’s shalom through the city? How can you do that this week?
- Has someone recently spoken bad about you because of your Christian beliefs? How did you handle that in your heart? What was your response?