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This sermon was given by Jesus Christ on a hill that rises near Capernaum . This hill is known as Mt. Eremos and Kam Hattin. This hill today is where the twentieth century Roman catholic chapel populary known as the church of the beatitudes is located. Jesus gave this sermon after he was baptized by John the Baptist and later tempted by Satan in the wilderness (matt.3:16, 4:1 ,The Gideon’s international version) (Vaught, 2001,8). Jesus later went to Galilee and gathered his disciples and here he attracted an huge crowd due to his healing . He then decided to walk up the mountain and his intention may either have been to address his disciples in privacy or to better accommodate the multitudes . Since the gospel was made for the gentiles who constituted the crowd, Jesus went up the mount most probably for every one to hear him. Its here that he gave the sermon (Vaught, 2001,8). This sermon is related to Luke’s sermon on the plain which has four woes and four beatitudes.
In this sermon , Jesus basically was explaining to his disciples what he expected from them and the rewards they stood to gain after living up to his expectations. Jesus wanted the people to learn the characteristics of those who would have desired to belong to his kingdom(Vaught, 2001, 8). Jesus intended to show the people the need for behavior change lest some people who thought that they would enter the kingdom of God may not be able to do so. This sermon touched on the disciples’ attitudes, behavior , and service to God. Jesus clearly made his audience realize that there is abundant life in God’s kingdom for all people irrespective of their circumstances, race, status and conditions. This sermon was written by Matthew, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ after Christ died as an autobiography (gendre).
Jesus first emphasized on the need to be poor in spirit by claiming that God’s kingdom would be for such people (matt.5:3 ) (Vaught, 2001,9) . To be poor in spirit means to be desperate for God . For one to know if he /she is spiritually poor, he/she has to pray. The more one prays, the more he/she realizes his/her spiritual poverty. This is because, surely if one doesn’t pray much, he/she doesn’t take God as much great or capable of doing much. The message here is to warn people against pride. A person who is proud will not be that much God seeking. Jesus used this to emphasize on the need to seek God in reverence and humility. The main message here is that Man is impotent without God(Vaught, 2001,10).
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The second beatitude touched on those who mourn.(matt. 5:4) (Vaught, 2001,10) . Jesus advised that such people would be comforted. The message here is to encourage people to mourn for : pain, injustice, suffering in the world, sin and also loss of a loved one. The source of comfort in this case is God himself . Jesus here tried to emphasize the fact that there is somebody who is always ready to comfort us whenever such things befall us. Jesus here was not talking of emotional mourning but mental grief when one realizes his/her wickedness(Vaught, 2001,11) .
In the third beatitude , Jesus emphasized on the need for humbleness by saying the meek are blessed because they will inherit the earth (matt.5:5) (Vaught, 2001, 12) . This is related to the second in the sense that a person who mourns because of being sinful is an humble person. To be meek to God is to have a spirit that accepts Gods dealings with us as good and such people do not resist Gods work in them. A meek person acts with restraint and would not use unethical and evil means to succeed in life(Vaught, 2001,12). To be meek doesn’t mean to be weak. The message here is that such people would go to any extent to defend God’s cause and truth other than concentrating in protecting their selfish interests. The blessing here simply implies that the meek will rule over the wicked(vaught,2001, 13)
In the fourth beatitude, Jesus emphasized on the need to be righteous because such people would be filled(matt. 5:6) (Vaught, 2001,13). This is righteousness that fulfils Gods laws by being of good behavior and work. This hunger for righteousness is what would distinguish Christians from non -Christians. By saying that such people would be filled, Jesus implied that they would be granted all their desires.
In the fifth beatitude , Jesus emphasized on the need to be merciful by saying the blessing for such people would be mercy (matt.5:7) (Vaught, 2001,14). The teaching here is that people who are merciful are those who have been converted by God. This shows that those who are not saved do not have divine mercy. The listeners were also warned against committing adultery (matt. 5:27) (Vaught, 2001,14) . Adultery refers to sex between two people who are not married to each other. This can lead to breaking of marriages and this is why Jesus warned them against it.
The sermon is quite important to today’s theology because it defines the teachings of modern Christianity. The beatitudes are seen as a counterpoint to the ten commandments. The ten commandments show Christians today the things they shouldn’t do where’s the beatitudes establish a list of shalls. The sermon is quite significant to today’s culture as illustrated in plays such as the Godspell. In this play, cast members run up to Jesus each with a line stating the first bit of one of the beatitudes which Jesus answers (Vaught, 2001,14).
The sermon is quite relevant to today’s church. For instance, the need to seek God through prayer is very important especially now that moral decay is so rife in the modern society. The modern society is full of false mourners who worship non biblical religions and philosophies (Vaught, 2001,15). These people end up being frustrated and the modern society should learn such people cannot receive God’s comfort. The world today is full of unrighteous people who practice adultery, sodomy, abortion ,blasphemy and fornication. There’s therefore a need to heed Jesus’ advice to be righteous. We also have many merciless people in the modern society. For instance serial killers.
My favorite beatitude is the sixth which emphasizes on the need to be righteous. This is because righteous people are assured of being filled by god .This means that, as long as am righteous, whatever I ask God, it will be granted. It’s common knowledge that the world is full of needs which translate to poverty. People just need to be righteous and all their needs would be granted. This would eliminate poverty and the world would be a better place to live in.