Let us pray: Dear Savior, how easy it is to be a pessimist apart from You. How easy it is to become jaded with life when it’s “dog-eat-dog” and only the strongest and most unscrupulous come out on top. We see this occurring in business, in government, in schools, among nations. And it saddens us to the degree that sometimes we’re tempted to adopt the same attitude and actions just to survive. Lord, thank You for giving us an antidote to this pessimism. Thank You for giving us Your Word of truth, specifically: the Gospel. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO GIVES US GODLY BLESSEDNESS!
TEXT: Matthew 5: 1-12
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
It’s Super Bowl Sunday in America. Do the Patriots have any chance to become Super Bowl champions this afternoon? Of course not, it’s impossible. They’re not even in the game. Likewise, it’s impossible for me to be a billionaire when I retire someday. I don’t have investments that good. And lest you say: “Well, you could win Mega Millions” you’d be wrong, because I refuse to play that game! A lot of things in life are impossible.
Death and taxes will always be with us on this earth. So, are they impossible to beat? Well, I don’t know about taxes, but I do know about death. Jairus’ daughter beat death. The youth of Nain beat death. Lazarus beat death.—All with Jesus’ help. And so did Jesus Christ. He beat it forever. He arose to eternal life from the grave. That’s reality. That’s the truth that sustains us. And that brings us to the truth of this lesson which is:
THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES A REALITY IN CHRIST
People everywhere seem to love the Beatitudes, this little section from Matthew’s Gospel. They love the concept of being blessed as a result of their efforts to embrace the lowly lifestyle outlined. In my lifetime I’ve heard more than a few politicians use sections from our text in their speeches to elevate the mood and fire-up the little people they are talking to. It’s all so noble and high-minded. Even leaders who care little for Christianity still employ these words of the Beatitudes because they sound so very good. But, is achieving the state of blessedness spoken of by Christ possible or impossible? I want you to think about that. So let’s go through the list.
The state of blessedness from God encompasses perfection. After all, God is perfect and expects perfection from us. If He’s going to put His stamp of approval on our lives, then they need to be perfect in every way. So, are you “poor in spirit”? Are you poverty-stricken when it comes to pride and selfishness? Do you mourn over that inner war with sin that takes place within your heart? Do you mourn over it every day? Or just on Ash Wednesday when it’s expected? Do you always put the welfare of others before yourself, or are you truly meek? Do you have a deep, stomach-rumbling need every morning to eat and drink God’s goodness, or is it usually an afterthought? Do you always show kindness and mercy towards others, even those who have hurt and abused you? Is your heart pure, untainted by any form of a grudge or the idea of “getting even”? Do you seek to always make peace when confronted with disputes among family members or at work? Do you daily seek to make peace with God by ongoing repentance over your sins? How often have you been used and abused strictly because you’re a Christian? Do people regularly mock and insult you and tell lies about you just because you go to church on Sunday morning?
The fact of the matter is: none of us measures up to God’s standard of blessedness enunciated by these Beatitudes. No human can. We’re tainted inside by inner corruption. Even the believer, if we try to achieve such blessing on our own, is doomed to failure. None other than St. Paul, himself was doomed and admitted it. “The good that I want to do, I do not do, and the evil that I don’t want to do, that I keep on doing? Wretched man that I am, who can save me from this body of death?” Yes, unless you’re a fool or deluded, these verses are far from cheery. They are crushing. They are impossible to achieve.
The Beatitudes were spoken by Christ to a crowd of thousands in His sermon on the mount. And those people didn’t get angry over Him holding out the impossible to them, they embraced Him. Why? Because they also realized that the impossible becomes a reality in Christ.
Jesus was and is the Messiah. They understood that fact. That meant He was God’s Son in human flesh. He was the God-man Who came to save them, to work the impossible and make it their reality. He did so by doing everything they could never achieve on their own. Jesus never sinned. He never gave in to the dark side. He made Himself “poor of spirit” for us. How? By taking on our sins and carrying them to the cross. He mourned for us. When? Think of Him in Gethsemane agonizing over our lostness. That was the highpoint of His internal sufferings, but in reality He mourned over us all the time. Jesus was meek and humble throughout His life—in your place because you’re not. He hungered and thirsted for food and water in the wilderness, but never for rightness with God because He was God! And through faith He gives His perfect rightness to you! Jesus was always merciful toward those who were hurting internally and externally. His heart was purity itself. After all, God is perfect love. He made eternal peace with God on your behalf while nailed to a cross and dying. Recall: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” And that was spoken for and about those that put Him there. And persecution, insults, false testimony and the like, well Jesus bore it all for you throughout His entire ministry, didn’t He? And as a result of all this redeeming work, He was rewarded with heavenly bliss. He honored His holy Father. And He gave a body of true perfection to the Holy Spirit to use, to transfer to us by faith.
The non-believer looks honestly at the Beatitudes and cringes because the blessedness referred to are impossible for any mere mortal to achieve. But the believer hears the Beatitudes and rejoices because all of them were achieved by Christ and have now been given to us by the Spirit and made our very own through faith in Jesus. Yes, this section can only be understood rightly when viewed through the lens of the Gospel. For it clearly teaches that grace alone makes it all possible. So, we arrive back exactly where we started: The Impossible Becomes A Reality In Christ. Blessed. That’s who and what you are, dear Christian, all because of Jesus. Amen