"When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And opening His mouth He began to teach them" (Matt. 5:1- 2).
Jesus' earthly ministry included teaching, preaching, and healing. Wherever He went He generated great excitement and controversy. Usually great multitudes of people followed Him as He moved throughout the regions of Judea and Galilee. Thousands came for healing, many came to mock and scorn, and some came in search of truth.
On one such occasion Jesus delivered His first recorded message: the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). In it He proclaimed a standard of living diametrically opposed to the standards of His day--and ours. Boldly denouncing the ritualistic, hypocritical practices of the Jewish religious leaders, He taught that true religion is a matter of the heart or mind. People will behave as their hearts dictate (Luke 6:45), so the key to transformed behavior is transformed thinking.
At the beginning of His sermon Jesus presented the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12): a list of the godly attitudes that mark a true believer and insure true happiness. The Greek word translated "blessed" in those verses speaks of happiness and contentment. The rest of the sermon discusses the lifestyle that produces it.
Jesus taught that happiness is much more than favorable circumstances and pleasant emotions. In fact, it doesn't necessarily depend on circumstances at all. It is built on the indwelling character of God Himself. As your life manifests the virtues of humility, sorrow over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peace, you will experience happiness that even severe persecution can't destroy.
As we study the Beatitudes, I pray you will be more and more conformed to the attitudes they portray and that you will experience true happiness in Christ.
Suggestions for Prayer:
Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to you through our daily studies. Be prepared to make any attitude changes that He might prompt.
For Further Study:
Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).
- What issues did Christ address?
- How did His hearers react to His teaching? How do you?