The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)
“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 those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
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I recently listened to Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. (This course is to be taken in tandem with the reading of Prof. Wright’s book, Simply Jesus. In Simply Jesus, bestselling author and leading Bible scholar N.T. Wright summarizes 200 years of modern Biblical scholarship and models how Christians can best retell the story of Jesus today.)
In lecture ten N. T. Wright discussed the Beatitudes. I particularly enjoyed his take on the Beatitudes. I think you will too.
The kingdom of heaven is not a place called heaven. Heaven is used as a reverent way to talk about God. The kingdom of heaven means God is king. Jesus taught his followers to pray that God will become king on earth as He is in heaven. God’s sovereignty is to come to birth on earth. Jesus launched the kingdom of God. It will happen now! And his followers get to be part of it.
Even today we get to be part of it. Jesus told them and even us now to be the people of God in a whole new way. They and us today can be the people of God because Jesus is here and will lead the way.
When God becomes king he will do it through the people he calls, equips and enables. If God will bless the world it will be through people like this: the Beatitudes.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” God will not bless the world through bossy people who bully others to get their way. God will do it through people who are humble.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” God will bless the world through people who hunger and thirst for justice and have a passion to put things right.
We need people poor in spirit. People who are poor in spirit are ready to be taught and steered by God. They are not arrogant. They are like clay in the potter’s hands.
God asks us to be pure in heart. The pure in heart are those without mixed motives. They do not do things because there is something in it for them. They do it because they know it is the right thing to do. It is what God wishes we do.
We will be persecuted. The Beatitudes are not the ways of the world. Nevertheless, Jesus called his followers then and he calls us now to be agents of the world. These are the type of people that God will bless the world through.
Will you be part of this movement?
Paul: A Biography by N. T. Wright
The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N. T. Wright
Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good by N. T. Wright
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense by N. T. Wright
Courses by N. T. Wright:
N. T. Wright, In The Day the Revolution Began, N. T. Wright once again challenges commonly held Christian beliefs as he did in his acclaimed Surprised by Hope. Demonstrating the rigorous intellect and breathtaking knowledge that have long defined his work, Wright argues that Jesus’ death on the cross was not only to absolve us of our sins; it was actually the beginning of a revolution commissioning the Christian faithful to a new vocation—a royal priesthood responsible for restoring and reconciling all of God’s creation.
N. T. Wright, In this course Simply Jesus, students will be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus of Nazareth. The goal of the course is to look at the story of Jesus from the perspective of a historian. Too many times Jesus of Nazareth becomes interpreted as simply another ‘religious figure’ among many religious figures. But this so often eliminates the understanding of a man who lived in time and space at a critical time of history.
N. T. Wright, How do we know that Jesus was actually raised from the dead in bodily form? This course with Prof. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, examines the extraordinary claim that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead in a bodily fashion to appear in person to people after his cruel death, crucifixion, and entombment. This journey will look at the ancient world’s understanding of the afterlife from Jewish and Greek perspectives along with the implications of their understandings as it relates to the early Christian claim of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
N. T. Wright, Simply Good News is an introductory course based on the teachings of Prof. N.T. Wright and his book bearing the same title. The student will be guided through the idea of what ‘good news’ meant to the 1st Century person living in the Roman Empire. The course will also guide the student to understand how that ‘good news’ is to be understood by readers of the New Testament in the 21st Century.
N. T. Wright, Paul: A Biography – N. T. Wright’s definitive biography of Paul reveals the apostle’s lasting role in Christian history as an inventor of new paradigms for how we understand Jesus and what he accomplished. Wright celebrates Paul’s stature as one of the most effective and influential intellectuals in human history, while shedding fresh light on his writings, thoughts, and ideas. Consider these remarkable facts: Paul’s writing occupy less than 90 pages in a modern translation yet they have, page per page, generated more sermons, books, monographs, and journal articles than any other writings from the ancient world.
Themes in the Gospel of John by N. T. Wright: The course approaches the Gospel of John in a way that looks at seven key themes. These themes bind the Fourth Gospel together in a manner that allows us to see this ‘new way of living’ as possible for followers of King Jesus. In so doing, we then apply these themes to the current era in order to ask ourselves questions about how we are putting them into practice. In a way, this is the story of how to live out being the presence of God on earth through the indwelling of God’s spirit.
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