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Matthew 4:18-22; 5:1-11
Calling and Making Disciples
When we stop at a convenience store to get a snack because we are running late or we don’t want to stop and eat at a restaurant we will usually just get some of those little packages of peanuts. You know, Tom’s or Planters or something like that. Raechel has her way of eating them. She will take out one little peanut half at a time and munch on it and those peanuts will last her for an hour. I, on the other hand, have a different approach to eating them. My approach could be for a whole lot of reasons; one could be that I have such a hard time opening the packages. Have you ever opened those things? It says on the package; “Tear Here”. When you do it begins to tear very easily but then it won’t stop where you want it to and you tear out the whole side of the little package and peanuts go everywhere. Or it could be that I am just a pig. When I finally get the package of peanuts open they become about two bites before they are gone. I take big bites. When I eat anything I want to taste it so I take big bites of whatever it is. When we go to Golden Corral or any of what I call the feed trough restaurants I have already eaten a full plate before Raechel has taken two bites and her bites are so small she can’t even taste the food. I tell this useless story not to complain about my wife’s eating habits, although I would not eat as much at an all you can eat buffet if she would just take bigger bites, nor am I extolling the attributes of a big mouth, you all know already how big my mouth is. I am telling you this because this morning I am going to give you a very big bite. You are going to have to load up, chew fast and swallow. I prayed hard on how I could break this passage down in to smaller bites but the Lord just asked me; Why? This morning we will be looking at Matthew 4:18-22 and 5:1-11. I will probably be talking fast so you will have to listen fast to keep up. Let’s pray.
Let’s begin by reading Matthew 4:18-22 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.[1]
I am not going to spend a whole lot of time on this part of our passage today but there are a few things I need us to look at. First we need to see that Jesus called His disciples. If we were to read the other Gospels we can see that these four disciples that Jesus calls in this passage already have a knowledge Jesus. Andrew was already a disciple of John the Baptist as probably was John. Jesus had been preaching all around the area there was a general call to all in the area to repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. But in the passage we are looking at before us we see a specific call. It goes beyond the general call to repent to a call to follow. Jesus’ call to Peter and Andrew, and by implication to James and John, is stated as a command to follow Him. It was not an invitation from a friend it was a command from a King. Peter, Andrew, James and John understood it as a command and immediately they dropped what they were doing and they followed Him. James and John left so quickly that it appears that they left their father in the boat to finish mending the nets. We know from other accounts in the Gospels that Jesus called His other disciples in like manner. He even called some who refused to follow. People like the rich young ruler who refused to drop everything that was more important than Jesus, and some others who wanted to check out a piece of land they had purchased, or to test drive a few oxen they had just acquired, or even to bury their still living father. But we notice that James, Andrew, John and Peter all followed Jesus immediately.
How many of you have had a career of some kind? I have had several careers. I started out after high school as a warehouseman, then a truck driver. Being a warehouseman did not require much training, you only needed to know how to count and how to tote and fetch on command. The counting gave me a little trouble but I got the hang of it. But when they decided I needed to drive a truck they did not just put me in the cab of that tractor and send me to Oklahoma and Louisiana. They spent some time training me on how to drive, back up, make sure the load was stable, how to check my breaks and tires. They probably did not train me as well as they should have but they had called me to be a truck driver so it was their responsibility to make me into a truck driver. In this next passage we are going to look at we will see that this is exactly what Jesus is doing with His newly called disciples. He called them, now He is making them into disciples.
Let’s read Matthew 5:1-12 5 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5Blessed arethe meek, For they shall inherit the earth.6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great isyour reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.[2]
This passage is commonly called the beatitudes even though the word is found nowhere in the English translation of the Scripture. It is a transliteration from the Latin word for blessed. Here is where that big bite comes so if you are taking notes write fast. We did not read Mat. 4:23-25 but after Jesus called His disciples He went all over Galilee teaching in the Synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. He healed people of all kinds of diseases, so much so that His fame spread as far as Syria and people came from there to be healed by Him. Then in chapter 5 we see that Jesus went up on a mountain to get away from the crowd. He sit down just like the Rabbis of His time and began to teach. Most of the time when a Rabbi taught he would sit and his disciples would stand. I would do this Biblically but somehow I don’t think this would work out for us so you can just go ahead and sit and I will continue to walk about.
Jesus begins His teaching with “Blessed”. I was always taught that the word “blessed” means happy and that sounded ok to me but I began to think; I can be happy if I get a new car, or if Raechel cooks my favorite meal, liver and onions. So I did a little more digging into the word. The Greek word translated “blessed” is “markarios”. It is one of those words that does not translate directly into English. It is kind of like the word “peace”. We think of peace as a lack of conflict but when Jesus speaks of giving us His peace He is talking about an inward peace, being at peace with God not simply a lack of conflict. When Jesus uses the word blessed it is not simply “happy”, it is “happy” but more—it is a sense of God’s approval founded on righteousness, it is contentment from knowing you are pleasing to you Master. So when Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit” He is not saying “don’t worry, be happy”, He is saying you are content in pleasing you Master.
Now that we know what being “blessed” is let’s look at what the attributes are of those that are blessed and the benefit. Before I do that I need you to know that I could do a sermon on each one of these “beatitudes” but there are 8 of them. I will not exhaust them today so I encourage you to dig in a little deeper after this morning into the training that Jesus is giving His disciples; those who received that specific call to follow Him.
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The word “poor” literally means to be reduced to beggary, to be destitute with nothing to rely on. I guess we could call it today bankrupt, broke. The spirit of a man is the part of a man that chooses and makes decisions, it is the part of the person that pulls himself up by his bootstraps when he is down. The picture that Jesus is painting for His disciple here is one of a person who has come to the point that he is broken, he has no more of himself that he can rely on. He is totally humbled and humiliated. Jesus wanted His disciples to know that those who still believed they could depend on themselves for their own salvation did not have the kingdom of heaven. I want you to see here that Jesus does not say that the poor in spirit will have the kingdom of heaven but that they have the kingdom of heaven. Jesus wanted His disciples to know the moment a person realized he cannot save himself he has begun to live in the kingdom of heaven. Content in pleasing their Master are those who have come to the end of themselves, for they have entered the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. The word used for mourn is the strongest Greek word for mourning, it literally means to wail in grief. Those who have found themselves to be morally bankrupt, who have come to the end of themselves are naturally going to mourn because of the sin that has been in their lives. They will care deeply, and have godly sorrow for their sin and be deeply concerned for the sin that is in the world. They will know injustice and pain caused by sin because they have experienced that injustice and pain. But those who are broken and mourn because of sin will be comforted. The word comforted (parakeleo) has a direct tie to the promised Comforter (Parakaletos) that Jesus promised in John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. Content in pleasing their Master are those who mourn because of the effect of sin in their lives and in the world, for the Holy Spirit is going to come along side and comfort them.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Meek is probably the most misunderstood word in the English language. Most people equate the word meek with the word weak. Let’s put this in context of a horse. A horse that has never been trained to ride is not meek. But once that horse has been trained and tamed he has become meek. A horse is stronger and faster than any man alive and that horse can if it really chooses throw almost anyone that gets on its back and believe it or not that horse knows it. But instead it chooses to be ridden by a man who is 5 times smaller. That is meek. I call meekness strength under total control, it is simply enough; humility. Jesus was a man of power, He walked on water, calmed the storms, and cast out demons, and could have called down legions of angels at any time it pleased Him but none of those things were done to honor Himself but instead to honor His Father. Once a person has come to the end of himself and who mourn for the sin in his life and the sin in the world will choose humility over pride and choose to honor his Master rather than himself. The word used for “earth” is the same word used for “land”. When the people of Israel had come to the end of themselves after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and had mourned their sin for 40 years and had chosen to glorify God instead of themselves they entered and possessed the land. Psalm 37:3-4 says Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. The promised land was never equated in Scripture with heaven it is always equated with living in the fullness of God and in His presence in the here and now. Content in pleasing their Master are those who have humbled themselves, for they will live in the fullness and presence of God in the here and now.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. This is the simplest of the beatitudes. If you are hungry and thirsty for food what do you do? Whatever it takes to get it. If you are hungry and thirsty, if you are longing for right standing with God you will do whatever it takes to get. You will come to the end of yourself and your own righteousness, you will mourn because of your sin and sin in the world and you will be humbled seeking to glorify your Master rather than yourself. When you find that you are starving for the things of God you do what is necessary to be filled with the things of God. You will spend time in prayer, in study of God’s word, in service to others, and in fellowship with other believers. If you wonder why people don’t come to church and fellowship with other believers, why they don’t read and study the Scriptures, why they don’t spend time in prayer; it is because they do not hunger and thirst for the things of God because they probably do not know Him intimately, even if they said a prayer when they were six years old at VBS. Content in pleasing their Master are those who desire more than anything to be in right standing with God for they will have their desire fulfilled.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. Galatians 6:7 A man reaps what a man sows. Jesus Himself said: Luke 6:38 38Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Jesus wanted to train His disciples to understand that great mercy had been shown to them and it is necessary for them to show that same mercy. In James 2:13 we see: 13For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. The disciple of Christ is to show mercy in forgiveness, in troubles, and in every aspect of life and relationships because he or she has already received so much mercy. If you want mercy, show mercy. Content in pleasing their Master are those who have shown mercy and forgiven others for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. To the Hebrew the heart was more than just the seat of emotions it was the center of all thought, emotions and motives. The heart is where one is balanced or unbalanced. To be pure means to have no mixture or contamination. To be pure in heart is to have no mixed emotion, thoughts or motives. The only method to obtain this purity is by being poor in spirit, mourn because of sin in your life and the world, to be humble, to hunger and thirst for the things of God, and to be merciful. This requires the disciple to self examine himself to see that his thoughts, his emotions and his motives line up with his Master. Exodus tells us that no one can see God and live yet He appeared to Abraham, Moses, and Isaiah and we know from I John 3:2 and Revelation 22:4 that we will stand before Him at the judgment and be found approved. The disciple of Jesus must seek to have a pure heart by examining his thought, his emotions and his motives, repenting of impurities and purging them as with fire. Content in pleasing their Master are those who examine their thoughts, emotions and attitudes for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Jesus came to the earth for one reason. He did not come to show us how to live a life devoted to His Father, He did that but that is not why He came. He came to reconcile man to God. Notice how I said that; He came to reconcile man to God not God to man. God will not be reconciled to His creation it is His creatures that must be reconciled and that was accomplished on the cross of Calvary, when Jesus cried out ‘it is finished’ the reconciliation of man to God was complete. No longer must a man or woman, boy or girl be bound to fighting a war against God, a war they cannot win. None of the race of man can be at peace without being at peace with God. Now because of Christ’s work we can be at peace. Peacemakers are those who have been changed and share the gospel that changed them with a lost and dying world. There is no peace without reconciliation and when we participate in what Paul calls in 2 Corinthians 5 the ministry of reconciliation we are the peacemakers who are called the sons and daughters of God. Content in pleasing their Master are those who share the gospel of Jesus Christ, they shall be called the children of God.
Let me read for you again verses 10-12 because these next two beatitudes are where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Matthew 5:1-12 10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great isyour reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.[3] In this entire passage of the Beatitudes and especially in these last two Jesus is describing His disciples, those who are disciplined in His message of the Kingdom. He was not describing those who heard the general call to repent, He is not drawing a picture in these verses of people who followed Him around for a while, those who left when it became difficult or when the teaching required something of them, or when it became a hardship or even dangerous. Jesus was not describing Christian America. He was describing or painting a word picture if you will of those who had chosen to walk as He walked, talk as He talked, those who had determined to learn what He taught and live what He did. Because when those who are called the children of God look like Jesus, when they are conformed into the image of Christ as Paul says in Romans 8, the world will hate them, they will hate you. Jesus said that the world will hate you because they hated Him. We are not just talking about dislike or being in disfavor with people, we are talking hatred, where there is a desire to do harm to those who look like Jesus. Content to pleasing their Master are those that look so much like Him that the world treats them the way they treated Him. They beat Him, they spit on Him, they scourged Him, then they hung Him on a cross.
Jesus called those men to be His disciples, to live as He lived, walk as he walked, to learn what He knew and to do what He did. These 8 beatitudes are the beginning of their training. They are not the goal, the summit of the training but the elementary or basics of walking as Jesus walked. People of God I believe with all of my being that the call has not changed. His call “follow Me” is the same call He gives today, it is the call you received when you came to Christ. The culture has changed and the expectation on Christians by that culture has changed but the call has not changed and Christ’s expectations have not changed. Our own understanding of following Christ has changed but His command “Follow Me” has not changed. The call to be poor in spirit; to get rid of yourself, to come to the end of yourself has not changed. The call to mourn because of sin in your life and in the world has not changed. The call to be meek and to hunger and thirst for righteousness has not changed. The call to be merciful because of the mercy you have received has not changed. The call to be pure in heart and the call to be a peacemaker has not changed. The call to look so much like Jesus that you are hated by the world has not changed and it will not change with the culture. The call has not changed. He called them and you and He trained them and He is training you.
Let me ask you this, this morning; How’s your training going? Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you truly mourn over your sin and the sin that besets the world around you or has it become the new normal? Have you settled in to accept your own sin? It’s just the way I am, I’m only human. Have you humbled yourself seeking to glorify God and not yourself, living in His fullness in the here and now, not just waiting for the sweet bye and bye? Are you hungry for the for the things of God, so hungry that you will do whatever it takes to be filled with His righteousness? Are you giving others the mercy that you have received. Are you sharing the gospel of peace, bringing peace between man and God by the work of Jesus on the cross? Do you look so much like the picture that Jesus drew for His disciples that you could get fired from your job, people want to run you out of town, people don’t want to see you or be around your life convicts them of sin. Not because you are obnoxiously pointing a finger at them but because your lifestyle points to the righteousness of God in Christ? Or is it hard to tell the difference between you and the world, do you just seem to fit right in?
I know that was a big bite and to some degree a bitter bite. But will you go ahead and chew it up and swallow, making it a part of your life or will you just walk out those doors and spit it out like those who received the general call to repent and walked away from Jesus when it got hard. Will you heed His specific call to you this morning “Follow Me”? Let’s pray.
[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 4:18–22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson. [2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 5:1–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson. [3] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 5:1–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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