What is yours now—and what will be yours?
If we divide the Beatitudes according to these two questions, this is how we would hear them:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
And, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
That’s what is yours now, and this is what will be yours:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [And] blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:4-9).
With this division, what is yours and what will be, Jesus is telling us what Christian discipleship looks like.
And—Christian discipleship looks like dying.
Hear me out.
God calls you to faith by the Gospel.
He places you into the garden, to tend and keep it.
He tells you what to expect—what is yours and what will be. The problem is—our difficulty—is that the Beatitudes aren’t a lot of fun, because they teach Christians how to bear the scorn of child, husband, wife, and world—as did the prophets before you.
The Beatitudes teach Christians how to live and die well, that you would rejoice—in all that God has given you—in all that is yours now and all that will be.
So…”Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
You mourn after a death. At some point you’ll mourn. And so Jesus wants you to be prepared for that.
Consider the very intentional words of Jesus here.
When someone mourns, they’re not easily comforted. Relief doesn’t come quickly.
But they will be comforted. Relief will find them.
The Lord promises to wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:17), but we’re not there yet. We bear and shed very real tears every day.
That’s an honest look at Christian discipleship.
Mourning now—comfort later.
Because our comfort is more than the “You’ll be okays” said after a death and while we mourn.
Our comfort is better than the “It gets betters” said during adolescence and adulthood.
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26), and so we perceive a lack of comfort now, as we wait and hope.
But you will be comforted, because death is defeated, Christ is risen, and you will be, too.
See? “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
Properly speaking, this isn’t a conversation about death but a reorientation towards the Christian’s final hope—the comfort of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
It’s not something we have now—like we have eyes now. It’s something we’ll have then, after our skin has been thus destroyed, yet in our flesh we’ll see God. Our eyes shall behold, and not another (cf. Job 19:23-27).
Next, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Which is easy. Everybody—just be meek.
Put aside the way you were raised. Set aside your own thoughts. Forget right and wrong, and meekly submit to it all.
Even if you do, you can’t force an inheritance. When and where it pleases Him, God gives the growth, and for an inheritance, someone has to die, and in this case, it’s your pride and ice-cold heart which do not want you to hallow God’s name or to let His kingdom come.
The meek will die in the Lord—and then—inherit what they gladly did forsake.
What do you reap? And what do you sow?
Do you live as though you will inherit the earth?
Or do you live as though you must purchase it at every moment with all your time, talent, and treasure?
Do you live as though you trust God?
Or do you live as though you trust yourself?
Blessed are the meek who die in the Lord, for they shall inherit the earth.
And then…“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
I don’t care what it is—you’re either unsatisfied or your not, but you should be.
We are insatiable. Or—to say it the way it’s been phrased between husband and wife or parent and child, “You’re impossible to please.”
To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to hunger and thirst for Living Bread and Living Water that rise and well up into eternal life.
It is, as we teach our confirmands, to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away.
That phrase, “even death,” doesn’t mean you “might” confess the faith until you die—it means you “must” and “do” and “will” confess the faith until you die. So…
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
And “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
It seems the death of conscience that we forgive others regardless as to whether or not they repent.
The mercy you show to others, you don’t always receive back, but it’s a cold heart that demands repentance before forgiveness. Faith trusts God to sort it out and waits and hopes in Him.
You shall receive mercy.
And “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
Is your heart pure?
Of course not—the heart makes for a terrible gift. Rather, we pray each week for God to create in us a clean heart, because this one’s filthy.
And when you sing the Offertory, realize that you’re asking for God to bring you through this veil of tears and death to the final hope of resurrection and life, where your heart—and eyes—are made new and you see God face to face.
Him you shall behold and not another!
And “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
How did the Son of God make peace?
He put His life in the balance, “enduring from sinners such hostility against himself, that you would not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3).
Blessed are the peacemakers who take up their cross and follow Him. They shall be called Children of the Heavenly Father.
According to Jesus, that’s what will be yours.
He says what He does to prepare you for what Christian discipleship looks like.
He prepares you to live and die in the faith.
But He says all of that, He lays the promises of what will be before you, with the first and last beatitudes as bookends, declaring to you what is.
And they’re very similar.
Consider the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
Poor in spirit means spiritually bankrupt.
It means you bring nothing to the table with respect to your salvation. It means God saves you out of the love He bears for you.
And the kingdom of heaven is yours.
Forgiveness, hope, peace with God—are yours.
Consider the last beatitude: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
He told you what faith will receive.
He tells you now what faith does receive.
Blessed are you when you’re hated for being on the right side of the Author of History, “when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely [on account of Christ]. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
The kingdom of heaven is yours now.
God fights for you—that’s what that means.
And that means you win.
The difficulty is that so often Christian discipleship looks like losing—the Beatitudes are teaching us, among other things, how to die.
But not just how to die—but rather—how to live and die in Christ.
“To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
And blessed are you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
All Saints Day (observed), 2021
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt