Every good communicator develops a strong introduction to a presentation. Jesus was not a good communicator…..He was the greatest of all time. So, of course, Jesus gave the most stunning introduction to a sermon that has ever been preached. The intro to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew is known as the Beatitudes. The word beatitude is a latin word which means blessedness or blessing. Jesus, in this powerful section from His famous sermon, is proclaiming blessings over His followers.
It is important to understand that the Sermon on the Mount was preached primarily to disciples of Jesus. While there was a huge crowd of potential unbelievers listening, the beatitudes were spoken to these followers. This is a classic trademark of the Gospel, the message and good news of Jesus…..identity before behavior. Jesus is teaching a series of attributes (beatitudes) that will all be exhibited by a true Christ follower. He isn’t describing multiple people, but rather one person showing all these attributes. The beatitudes are the signs of true salvation.
Jesus also introduces us to the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the dominion of the rule and reign of Christ in the hearts and lives of all believers. His kingdom will one day be a fully realized locale where all adhere to His rule, but as followers, we don’t have to wait. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, has set up residency in the hearts of His people. The Beatitudes are the attributes of believers who are literally bringing the Kingdom of Heaven into their world.
Make no mistake; we cant do this on our own. The transformation that leads believers to embody these attributes is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we really know Christ we WILL change, and that change will lead us to these Beatitudes. We begin to DO this because of WHO we believe and follow, and this changes WHO we are!! Jesus changes our identity, which leads to a change in our behavior. Identity first……behavior second. The glorious Gospel of Jesus.