The King's values - Matthew 5:1-12

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the Riverside Church service on 14th June 2015.

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The Kings Values

Matthew 5:1-12


It was the Queen’s Official birthday yesterday. As a mark of the celebration the honour’s list was published.


What do we know about the people on the list? They are highly favoured by the Sovereign. We are being asked to respect them and honour them because of what they have been given by the Queen.


We have many other lists of honour. We have them in schools and in sports clubs and in businesses. Lots of people try very hard to get their name on the one they value most of all.


Which list is most important to have your name on?


What we have before us in these verses from Matthew chapter 5 is not a list of highly favoured people but a list of the qualities possessed by those God calls blessed.


To many people blessed is a rather unusual religious word. It doesn’t fundamentally mean happy. That is a subjective feeling. To be blessed is to be highly favoured. It is an objective fact.


Our plan this morning is to answer two questions.


  • Who are these people?
  • Why are they blessed?


First, who are these people?


Look at verses 1 and 2.


When he saw the crowds he went up to a mountainside and sat down to teach his disciples.


The importance of a mountainside. Before the people entered into the Promised Land, Moses went up on a Mountain to get the commands of God. They are to be different.


Here is Jesus withdrawing to a mountain to teach his disciples what it will be like to live under his loving rule.


Not just for Christians. Matthew 7:28, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching…” Two concentric circles!


This is ordinary radical discipleship.


Matthew 6:8 is in many ways a key verse of the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not be like them.”


Jesus started this sermon with what are traditionally called the Beatitudes - a rough transliteration of the Latin beatus.


Billy Graham called these the beautiful attitudes.


You can think of the Beatitudes as the King’s values. The difficulty of defining British Values. The values of King Jesus are crystal clear.


The key to understanding them is to remember who Jesus is speaking to. His disciples. Those who have already submitted their lives to him. These are not the things people need to do in order to become Christians. No, what comes next is a description of what discipleship looks like in practice.



Two things to point out.


  • Look at what is said in verse 3 and in verse 10. Verses 11 and 12 are an explanation of verse 10. So there are 8 beatitudes in total.
  • Old Testament background. The key is to look back. The promise in the Old Testament about what the Messiah would bring. Especially Isaiah chapter 61.



Blessed are the poor in spirit. Not financially poor. A recognition of our spiritually bankrupt for God. Relying on someone else to meet their needs.


Blessed are those who mourn. Mourning over sin.


Blessed are the meek. Don Carson, “How does meekness differ from poverty of spirit? Poverty of spirit has to do with a person’s assessment of himself, especially with respect to God, whilst meekness has more to do with his relationship with God, and with men.” Humility before God and others.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We hunger and thirst for many things but what about righteousness? A righteous status and a righteous lifestyle.


Blessed are the merciful. Showing mercy to others is a sign that you have received mercy from God.


Blessed are the pure in heart. The same in public as we are in private.


Blessed are the peacemakers


Blessed are those who are persecuted. Expanded in verses 11-12. Notice what is described as persecution. Because of Jesus.


Crossing the pain line in evangelism. Open your mouth. Either hunger or hostility.


These are the values Jesus’ disciples are to have.


We need the Holy Spirit will work these in us.



Second, why are these people blessed?


We’re told in the second half of each beatitude. Notice the word for.


Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Present tense. Experiencing the saving rule of king Jesus. Poverty or spirit is the way in to the kingdom and poverty of spirit is a sign that we are genuine Christians.


They will be comforted. Future tense. When? When the gospel is applied. When sin is finally taken away.


They will inherit the earth.


They will be filled. The promise of transformation by the Holy Spirit.


They will be shown mercy. Mercy shown to others is a sign that we have appropriated the mercy of Christ already and that on the final day we will receive mercy.


They will see God.


They will be called sons of God.


Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


No wonder these people are highly favoured!


What does this mean for us?


Are you one of these people? A disciple of Jesus. Or are you still in the crowd?


If yes, then is this how you see yourself? The world will not tell us we are the privileged ones but we must listen to God's declaration.


How are your values? Are they like these?

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