5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 
In the past eight weeks, we have focused most of our attention on the individual beatitudes, the powers of the Kingdom of God. Although these are not individual commands for us to perform, they certainly have implications for our daily lives. The implications are that we examine how much those Kingdom powers are displayed in us, repent of our deficiencies, and ask Jesus to live increasingly through us and display his Kingdom powers in us. We call this The Christian Two-Step.
We dance the Christian two step remembering that Jesus is not telling us what we should be. Rather, he is describing what the power of God’s Kingdom makes us. Jesus assumes that his people will show these hallmarks. But because they are so contrary to our human nature, he wants to stress that his power is the only way to true blessing. It is not the rich, the happy, the forceful, the merciless, who are truly blessed. It is the poor in spirit, the meek, those starving for righteousness, those desperate to see others at peace with God, who experienced God’s blessing and his Kingdom powers. 
Although we have considered them separately, all of these blessings belong together. They are part of a whole. Just as all the marks of the kingdom’s presence must be seen in our lives, so the blessings of the beatitudes belong together. Jesus makes this point by beginning and ending this section of his sermon with the same promised blessing: “theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (vv. 3, 10). He explains some of the benefits of his Kingdom in versus 4-9: comfort (4), inheriting the earth (5), being filled to the brim (6), receiving mercy (7), seeing God (8), and being called sons of God (9).
Jesus’ teaching means that his disciples have already, in the present, entered into his Kingdom. His Kingdom is still to be fully consummated. It is still to be revealed in its final glory. We must still wait for the day when the loud voices will say, “The Kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). What Jesus is saying is that these are the blessings of his Kingdom imported from the future (the not yet) into our present to be experienced by us (in the already).
Paul communicated this idea to the congregation in Ephesus, a city much like Corinth or any modern Western city – dominated by self-interest and self-sufficiency. As Sinclair Ferguson puts it in his commentary, “The air they breathe, spiritually speaking, belongs to the city of God. Their ‘light and power’ come from their fellowship with him. They are ‘in Christ Jesus’ as well as ‘in Ephesus’ (Eph. 1:1). So Paul writes to them that God ‘has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Eph. 1:3).”
To the Corinthians he said:
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 10:11 he told them they had already been brought forward into “the end of the ages.” In other words, they (and we) already share in the powers of the Kingdom of Heaven. To those who heard Jesus preach the beatitudes, the meaning was: “The future is now. The reign of God, with its blessings, which you expected to come at the end of the age and the close of history, has arrived in the here and now. Enter my Kingdom. Experience its life changing power. Taste the blessings of the future right now!”
Jesus declares there is blessing now and even more perfect, eternal blessing to come. What are these benefits shared by those of whom Jesus declares, “Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”?
The first benefit Jesus promises is comfort for the mourning. Through his prophet Isaiah, the Lord promised comfort (strength, vitality) to his exiled people. The second-half of Isaiah’s prophecy pictures God bringing about a new exodus of his people and leading them back into the Promised Land. So, the second-half of the prophecy begins in Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort, comfort my people” (Isa. 40:1).
The entire passage of Isaiah 61 appears to be the foundation of the Beatitudes. The passage reaches its crescendo in the words of Messiah Jesus in verses 1-3:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 
The incarnate Son of God, Messiah Jesus, read these words in the synagogue of Nazareth. Then he added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:16-21). The blessings of the new exodus are already ours in Christ. In fact, in 9:31, Luke uses the Greek word for exodus in reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Our mourning over sin involves our sense of guilt and shame, our experience of regret and separation from God, with whom we were originally created to live in a perfect face-to-face relationship. But Jesus Christ has come to lift up the heads of his people (Ps. 3:3). He comes in grace and power, puts his hand under our chin, and bids us to look on him. He is the resurrection and the life. In him there is forgiveness and pardon. Through him we are being brought into fellowship with the Father.
We no longer need to carry the burden of mourning through life, hoping against hope that one day our guilt and shame will be removed. Jesus has already taken that burden. There is comfort now. We can strip off the garments of mourning, rejoice, and be comforted. Only the tax collector who mourned over his sin and admitted his guilt and shame received mercy and went home blessed with the comfort of the justified. The outwardly-humble but inwardly self-satisfied Pharisee went home deluded and still dead (Lk. 18).
INHERITING THE EARTH
Next, Christ promises the benefit for meekness is the inheritance of the earth. When God created man, he created him to rule over the earth as its priest and steward. For that purpose, God gave man dominion over everything (Gen. 1:26-28). But man wanted more and fell to the serpent-dragon’s temptation: “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5) – meaning man could decide for himself, based upon his own observation, what he thought was good or evil, regardless of God’s revelation.
Created to rule for God, man attempted to seize the earth for himself. Mankind’s fall had begun. As a consequence, man lost what he had tried to steal, and he lost the dignity that God had given him. Instead of heeding God’s gracious revelation, as God’s creature and son should have done, man tried to usurp the place of God.
In portions of revelation God gave to his ancient people, he dropped in various hints that one day this tragedy would be reversed. So, in the Old Testament promises he included the gift of “the land” to Israel. Many times they proudly saw the land as their right, regardless of whether they lived in it with submission to God’s revelation. Time and again, God had to teach them that pride always loses what it seeks to gain. The fact that Moses was the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3) Should have taught them something, especially since that faithful man was denied entry into the temporal Promised Land because he had abandoned his meekness in a crucial moment (Num. 20:12).
What Moses did imperfectly, Messiah Jesus did with constant meek and humble perfection in heart (Matt. 11:29). He submitted himself to God’s revelation and to all of the harsh experiences that would fall upon the Suffering Servant. That is why he was able to tell his disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth was, and is, his (Matt. 28:18). Through the mission of the church he is claiming what is his by right – not just the promised land of Palestine, but the whole earth (Ps. 2:8; Heb. 2:5-9) – to be remade into an eternal and perfect Promised Land.
One day Messiah’s sovereign rule will be seen publicly. Here and now, in the not yet fully consummated Kingdom, we see it through the eyes of faith. But because it is seen through the eyes of faith, God’s people already have the assurance that this earth belongs to Christ. He has won it back for his people. And he wants them to be stewards again. This was Paul’s point made to the Romans:
… I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
But even now, those who trust into the perfectly lived life and sacrificial blood shedding death of the reason, ascended, and glorified Messiah Jesus can receive little tastes of this coming inheritance. We know that, despite its fallen state and in light of its future transformation, this world is not our enemy. It is no longer the lonely or sinister place it once was to Adam and Eve following their rebellion.
God has promised to completely transform the earth, and to transform us, to make us fit to live in God’s new garden paradise as his inheritance. Even as prisoners of a fallen world, we can enjoy the creation now and live as stewards of the earth, submitting to the revelation of our Father in heaven.
STUFFED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS
The Lord also promised the Kingdom benefit that those who are starving for his righteousness now will be stuffed to complete satisfaction in his consummated Kingdom (Matt. 5:6). We noted earlier in our series that “righteousness” means a right relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves. Once we trust into Christ’s person and work, we have an immediate right relationship with God from which may flow right relationships with ourselves and others.
Already we are justified by means of our trust into Christ. Already we know that the Kingdom of God consists of righteousness (Romans 14:17). Already we are being filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:11). Those who are full of righteousness will be persecuted for it (5:10). But even in their persecution they will be blessed (Lk. 18:29).
This is what Jesus means in 6:33, a little later in this sermon, when he says that everything we need will be provided for us if we make the Kingdom and God’s righteousness our first priority. He fills us with right relationships. We have God as our father, Messiah Jesus as our older brother, and the people of God as our family to stand beside us. We have sons and daughters to care for and to encourage. These family members come from every tribe and language and nation on earth. We can enter into the caring, loving, healing, serving gospel community where right and restored relationships are possible. It is a glorious foretaste of the consummated Kingdom to come!
Jesus preached, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” We saw that mercy is God stooping down to man in his weakness and inability to bring him healing and restoration. God is the Good Samaritan, binding the wounds, carrying the burdens, and providing for the recovery of the man attacked by robbers (Lk. 10:35). God accomplished this by also becoming the man beaten, robbed, and left for dead outside the walls of Jerusalem where Christ was killed and raised from the grave.
St. Author of Hebrews describes Messiah Jesus as, “a merciful and faithful high priest” (Heb. 2:17). To become our merciful and faithful high priest, Jesus was made like us in every way. As a result, “because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18). He gives mercy to those who long for his mercy. Unlike the priest and the Levite in Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan, the son of God came to share in our weakness, to experience our temptations, and to take upon himself our defilement. He has experienced all that we have been through or will go through.
Jesus then preached, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (5:8). Those who desire both to know and serve God will see him. Scripture tells us no man has ever seen God face-to-face because both Father and Spirit are invisible, eternal, perfect, spirits (Jn. 1:18; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:27). How, then can we “see God”?
Part of our “seeing” God, as we learn in the Old Testament, involves our understanding that we live constantly before him and have some understanding of how he reveals himself to us in his Word. In occasional instances, Old Testament prophets like Isaiah “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted” (Isa. 6:1). Ezekiel saw, “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezek. 1:28). These were glimpses of the great unveiling that will take place in the consummated Kingdom when all God’s people will see his glory and not be destroyed because they have finally received their new, perfect hardware.
Of course, the most obvious way we can see God is that he makes himself visible in Christ Jesus. This is why the Apostle John wrote, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). Yet, his identity remains hidden to those with dead hearts. Only those with hearts purified by trust into him can “see” him as he truly is. To know Christ is to know God and to “see” him (John 17:3). The future sense of the Lord’s glorious presence is already ours.
NEW NAME: SONS AND DAUGHTERS
The Beatitudes begin and end with the same promise that, through the person and work of Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven is ours. That tells us the entire opening section of the Sermon on the Mount is to be read as one complete part of the sermon. Scholars have argued over the listed order of the blessings to find some hidden meaning, and there are numerous theories – none of which need confuse us this morning.
But it is clear on its face that the ultimate blessing is to be called a son or daughter of the living God. That might seem, on first glance, to be an anti-climactic promise. But it is, in fact, a most beautiful climax. There is no higher privilege than to be able to see God as our Father! The blessing tells us that in the Kingdom of God we will be fully restored to what we were created to be: children of God.
One of the more striking passages that teaches us this principle (aside from our present text) is Luke’s genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3:23-28. Luke begins with Jesus and then, hitting the historical high points, traces Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam whom Luke calls, “the son of God.” We no longer need to live as orphans, depending on our own wits to survive on the mean streets of a hostile world.
We see him no longer as someone distant and vaguely displeased with us for not living up to our full potential. If you are trusting into Christ’s righteousness and his sacrificial blood-shedding death as your ONLY hope to be right with God, then your Father is NOT displeased with you. He delights in you and sings over you! You are his precious child for whom he sent his unique Son to die and to be raised again as a promise of the consummated Kingdom, and to ascend and rule over all things FOR YOU and for his glory.
Now, we are able to see God through the eyes of children who love and trust their Father, and who know that he will supply all their needs. In the middle of his Sermon on the Mount Jesus says that being aware of this blessing will set us free from both hypocrisy and paralyzing anxiety over temporal concerns.
Greatest of all, since sons inherit their father’s riches as well as their Father’s characteristics, this Kingdom blessing summarizes all the other blessings Jesus has listed. God speaks to us in these words found in the Parable of the Prodigal Son:
My son … you are always with me, and everything I have is yours (Lk. 15:31).
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 5:1–12.
 Ferguson, Sinclair B. The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1987), pp. 44-54.
 Id., 45.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 1:4–8.
 Ferguson, 46.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 61:1–3.
 Ferguson, 47.
 Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Ro 8:18–21.