There are three portions of Scripture that I want to talk about. Two are in Matthew and one in John. Let’s see if we can fit them together.
Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him.
The King James Version of the Bible is the only one that translates this verse correctly. All the others say something differently, “He went up on a mountain,” or “on the side of a mountain.” King James says it correctly, “He went into the mountain.” The little word “a” is never in the Greek. He went up into “the mountain.” It is a spiritual high place. And it is not when “He had sat down,” but when He was set – set into a spiritual place of authority to teach. But that’s just an aside. Jesus begins what we call the Beatitudes, the blessings.
Matthew 5:2-3 And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. To be poor in spirit is the opposite of being rich in spirit. It means humility; not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think but to be poor in spirit, not haughty. Jesus said theirs is the kingdom of heaven. To be poor in spirit is a quality not found in human nature. It has to come from the Lord. It takes a long time to learn that you are not poor in spirit. But that portion of this sentence is not as attractive as the latter portion, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We are quick to claim the Kingdom of heaven, but not so quick to learn about being poor in spirit.
I’ve noticed that many religious organizations major on building up human nature. They make people feel wonderful about themselves to hold them in their organization, don’t want to run them off telling them what their nature is really like. Jesus had a way of telling the religious what they really were. He initiated some confrontations when He looked at the Pharisees and said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:14). I don’t think I’ve ever looked at someone sitting here and said, “You hypocrite! You brood of vipers!” John the Baptist was the same way, “O generation of vipers, who warned you to flee the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7). They didn’t hold back. If people got angry it didn’t seem to affect them much. It takes a lot for a person to realize that he is not poor in spirit. In fact, it takes a long time for a person to realize what that even means. But theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.
It is after you realize what you are that you mourn. For a long time I didn’t realize what I was supposed to mourn over. I would get comforted if I mourn, but what am I to mourn about? Mourn over what you are and the fact that you can’t change it. Do you remember the story Jesus told about the publican and a Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14)? The Pharisee said, “I am thankful I’m not like that publican over there, but I fast two or three times a week. I offer prayer. I do this and I do that…. I’m glad I’m not like him.” But the publican was beating his breast saying, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” He was comforted.
It takes a long time for a person to realize what he is in his flesh nature. Salvation is limited until you know, until there is mourning and repentance. I remember the lessons by my pastor concerning ministry, he would begin with several lessons on repentance. It was important because repentance has to be worked deeply before you can become a ministry.
As my wife and I were riding into town yesterday, the Lord spoke to my heart about presenting a course on discipleship. He told me the first thing I needed to do was to have some lessons showing the difference in what we are and discipleship, because everyone thinks more highly of themselves than what they ought to think (Romans 12:3). They think they know; they think they are. As I was telling you earlier, a lot of religious organizations teach that you have already arrived. Some think they have more than others because of what they believe. They think highly of themselves. All that builds up the flesh. “I’m in there. I’m a man of God. I’m a child of God. God loves me.” Yes, God does love you, but we cannot grow in the Lord with our flesh being built up, with our carnal mind being exalted. Everybody tends to exalt his carnal mind. That’s just the way of human life. You believe in what you believe. You think well of yourself; you have your opinion and your opinion is right. “I’m sorry. I know you have your opinion, but yours is not right. Mine is! It’s just that simple. I know what I’m talking about here.” Tell me – is that not human nature or is it? Everyone is like that. “My opinion is better than your opinion. Now here is the right way to do this thing.” Do you see? People exalt their thinking, their opinions. That is human nature.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
When you realize that you are not poor in spirit and after you get through the “woe is me,” then you can begin mourning correctly with some repentance. After that you can be comforted and become one of the meek of verse five. It takes a lot to become meek. Many people don’t know what meekness is. It is spoken of Moses that he was the meekest man on the earth at that time (Numbers 12:3). But he could be hard as steel, too; Moses was dedicated. He had steel in his backbone, but he also had a meek spirit.
After you realize that you’re not poor in spirit so that you begin to mourn and to repent, then you start learning to be meek. The promise to the meek is that they shall inherit the earth. “Well, what would I do with it?” Jesus is talking about your earthen nature. You will inherit it. In other words, you are going to control it. It is going to be under your dominion – your earthen nature. Then comes the next verse…
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Now you see the need, which is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. It can take a long time for a Christian to really begin hungering and thirsting after righteousness. The reason it can take so long is because they think they already are. You cannot hunger and thirst after righteousness until you realize your limitations, your inabilities, and your sinfulness; then you begin to thirst and to hunger after the righteousness of God.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
The promise to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness results in being filled. One of the ingredients of the filling is mercy. They become merciful because they understand the other person and can relate to his need with compassion. They obtain the mercy because they are merciful. Following after that is purity of heart.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
This is one that is really a concern for me right now. I want a pure heart before the Lord. There are different degrees of a pure heart. It takes a certain amount of purity to realize you don’t have a pure heart.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the sons of God.
The peacemakers are the ones who have become as the Son is. Peace comes after the flesh life is defeated.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Have you ever wondered why you are not getting persecuted? That step follows all the others. First, you have to realize that you are not poor in spirit. Then you mourn and become meek. After that is hungering and thirsting after righteousness followed by mercy and purity of heart. Then you can become a peacemaker and then, you get the big blessing of being persecuted. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Blessed! For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven!
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you,
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Rejoice and be glad? No – rejoice and be exceeding glad! “Well, listen. I did not know about this part when I signed up for the Kingdom. Maybe we better give it some second thought. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for being persecuted?” I know we don’t understand that yet, because we’re not there yet. We have to take this step by step by step. You notice the persecution is for righteousness’ sake. It’s not persecution because you have a big head, think you are something that you’re not, thinking you’re a big-time evangelist or super-spiritual. That is not persecution. That’s called judgment – the work of the cross. There is a difference.
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.
Enter ye in at the strait gate… Do you know what the word strait means? When someone loses his sanity, they put him in a strait jacket. It keeps him from being violent, hurting himself or someone else. Enter in at the strait gate – that’s the entrance where the Lord puts a hold, or a limitation, on a lot of your humanism.
I can change the wording a little bit here and come closer to the meaning: Enter the strait gate because there is a wide gate and a broad way that leads to destruction, and many Christians go in there. They take the path of the least resistance. I think one of the most difficult passages of Scripture is found in Matthew 16:24: If any man will come after Me…. Most Christians would say, “Yes, I would like to become as He is.” But Jesus continues, Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Not many people can deny themselves. They have a tough time with that one! To deny self – self is the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act; it is the way you are. So if you want to follow after the Lord, the first step is to deny self. After that comes taking up the cross.
Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads into life, and few there be that find it.
Let’s read that again – FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT. And among the few that find it, most of them turn around and walk away! Do you understand? It’s like that young rich ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. “Lord, what must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and follow Me.” He hung his head and walked away; he didn’t want it that much.
Now let’s go to John 21. Peter had denied Jesus three times and now the Lord was asking Peter if he loved Him. Three times Peter said, “Lord, I love You. You know that I love You.” Then Jesus said…
John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When you were young, you girded yourself, and walked where you would…
In your immaturity you did your own thing. You decided what you were going to do. You decided what a good Christian is, how a good Christian walks, thinks, acts, and you put up a good religious front, but you were walking the way you would. You believed your way was the right way; you believed that your will was His will. That’s the way it is in your immaturity.
John 21:18 …but when you shall be old (or mature), you shall stretch forth your hands…
Your hands represent everything that you do, not just with your literal hands. But it represents what you do with your mind, your emotions and your heart. It represents the doing of yourself.
John 21:18 …but when you shall be old (or mature), you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you would not.
In other words, you will begin doing things you would not do before. Now listen, we are all young Christians here, so don’t let this upset you. We are still quite immature. For most of what we do is according to our own way, the way we think and feel. Maturity comes after we’ve gone through the steps in Matthew 5 and after we have entered the strait gate. It is only then that we begin to realize that our doing has to change, that we must come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our mind begins agreeing with Christ’s mind. We begin sharing His feelings, His compassion, His love, His mercy, and His long-suffering. Then He is carrying us where we would not go before. When we become more mature, many of the things we have been doing we won’t do any longer. We will be taking a different route.
I encourage your hearts. Be thankful for this, because God is going to lead us in a different way than we would. In our youthfulness we would say, “I know what I need. I know what I want. I know what I’m doing. I’m doing the right thing.” Nevertheless, the time will come when we will put forth our hands and another will gird us, and we will walk in a way that we would not. We will walk in His way! Amen.
Copyright © 2008 by Henry DuBose