God Blesses Those Who… (Matthew 5:3–16)
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount by speaking what has come to be known as the Beatitudes, which were simply declarations of blessing to those who follow them. Each of the Beatitudes starts with the phrase “God blesses” (or “Blessed are,” depending on what version of the Bible you are reading) and ends with the blessing itself. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that God blesses:
those who are poor and know how much they need him (Matthew 5:3)
those who mourn because they will be comforted (5:4)
those who are humble because they will inherit the whole earth (5:5)
those who are hungry and thirsty for justice because they will be satisfied (5:6)
those who show mercy because they will receive mercy (5:7)
those who have pure hearts because they will see God (5:8)
those who work for peace because they will be called God';s children (5:9)
those who are persecuted for doing what is right for God';s kingdom is theirs (5:10).
Jesus followed this list by telling his followers, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way” (Matthew 5:11–12).
You can find a more abbreviated version of the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6:20–49. In that version, there are fewer Beatitudes. Jesus';s teaching on loving enemies and judging others is also included in that version.
Jesus went on to tell his followers that they were to be those things and receive those blessings for one reason: because they are the salt and light of the earth, meaning they were to bring the earth light and flavor. Salt is worthless, Jesus said, when it loses its flavor. Likewise, a lamp is useless when it is covered up. For that reason, those who follow Jesus are to do good things for the kingdom of God so that people will see those things and praise God.
What did Jesus say it took to “inherit the earth”?
Read Matthew 5:12. What are believers to do when people persecute or make fun of them because of their faith?