Matthew 5:1-12.
The Reward of True Faith

American Journal of Biblical Theology,
Copyright © 2015, Dr. John W. (Jack) Carter     Scripture quotes from KJV

Many of the most important activities in the life of a Christian are those that bring them a better understanding of the content, context, nature, and application of the Word of God with the intent upon appropriating them in their lives.  In a world where Christians are systematically marginalized a great deal of encouragement comes from understanding the nature and purpose of the Christian life.  As persons of faith, how are we to interact with the network of relationships that surround us: our vertical relationships: with God and with His Word, and our horizontal relationships: with those inside and outside of the fellowship of faith?  How does the system of vertical relationships inform our horizontal relationships?

Jesus’ ministry, though punctuated with well-known miracles, was essentially a teaching ministry.  After His baptism by John the Baptist and His defeat of satan in the wilderness, Jesus became widely known for His teaching.  When He returned to Nazareth He was given the opportunity to speak in the Synagogue where He began His teaching by reading from Isaiah 61:1-2a, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 4:18-19a.  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.   

He then closed the book, and taught how this passage was a reference to the Messiah, and that He was the One of whom Isaiah wrote.  His claim to be the Messiah was not particularly popular among the leadership and citizens of Nazareth who knew Jesus as the “Son of Mary,”[1] and He was dragged by the people out of the city to the escarpment upon which the city was built with the intent on throwing Him down the cliff.  However, He simply passed through the crowd and left the city.  He then moved His base for ministry to Capernaum of Galilee where He called the Apostles, a subset of the disciples who gathered around Him, to prepare them to be the evangelists who would lead the church after His ascension.

Consequently, the great preponderance of His earthly work involved teaching the apostles, disciples, and others about the kingdom of God, inviting all people, both Jew and Gentile, to become a part of it by placing their faith and trust in God.  Because of this, Jesus’ teaching, as recorded in the New Testament is the most important guide for Christian living that exists, and the most concentrated collection of Jesus’ teaching is contained in the “Sermon on the Mount” that is recorded in Matthew Chapters five through seven.  The series, which “deals with the basic issues of living as a Christian in secular society … opens with a series of blessings[2] and ends with a series of warnings.[3]  This pattern is similar to the book of Law[4] and suggests here that Matthew intends a parallel between Jesus and Moses as mediators of the Commandments of God.”[5]

Unlike the teaching of the religious leaders, Jesus went far beyond the text of the Old Testament as He described the nature of the Kingdom of God.  Though the Sermon on the Mount makes allusions to the Old Testament Law, much of its message, and virtually all of the statements are new.  “Many have sought for the original source and inspiration of these utterances in the Rabbinic literature of Jesus' day; but such a search has proved fruitless. For there is nothing in these writings to equal them in spiritual depth and scope. But rather, it is precisely within that passage of Scripture from which Jesus read as he stood before his people in the synagogue of Nazareth that we find the source of the Beatitudes.”[6] 

Matthew 5:1-2.  And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Jesus’ teaching drew crowds.  This passage indicates that Jesus, seeing the crowds, led them to a place where there was a hillside from which He could address them.  As He sat down in what was a traditional mode of teaching, the disciples gathered around Him more closely so that they could hear.  This took place in the presence of the people, the multitudes who, if they remained quiet, could also hear much of Jesus’ teaching.

Some have argued that this “Sermon on the Mount” was delivered to His disciples only, and not to the crowds, and some go so far as to argue that the “mountain” served as a retreat from those crowds.  However, at the completion of the sermon series, Matthew writes,

Matthew 7:28-29.  And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

The word that is translated “people” is not a reference to Jesus’ disciples, but rather to the larger group that included a wider audience.  Also, the astonishment of the people was inspired, not by the content of Jesus’s teaching as much as it was by the means by which Jesus taught.  Jesus’ disciples were already accustomed to, and accepting of, His authority.   

Where the scribes and Pharisees lectured on their limited knowledge and understanding of the Torah, they were (as we are today) teaching someone else’s words.  However, when Jesus taught, He spoke with a tone of authority that the people had never experienced before.  Jesus taught Truth from the heart, and His applications of scripture to life were meaningful and without error.  Where the teachers of the Law were teaching “God’s Word,” Jesus, as the Messiah was teaching His own Word.

Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, a similar power in God’s Word can be experienced today.  When a faithful believer in the LORD is willing to put the effort into searching the depths of the Word of God with the intent of learning, that individual is in a position where the Holy Spirit can use them to proclaim the truth to others.  When those who are unfamiliar with the gospel listen to the presentation of God’s Word by an individual who is both immersed in it and empowered by the Holy Spirit, a similar phenomenon takes place.  The Word of God is presented with an authority that comes only from the Holy Spirit.  People’s lives are changed when they are exposed to this form of preaching and teaching.  It is then that the “authority” behind the Word is heard:  not the authority of the teacher/preacher, but the authority of the author of the Word.  After all, that is what “authority” means: having the full nature of the author.

What follows is one of the more encouraging and well-known passages of the New Testament.[7]  Referred to as the “Beatitudes,” Matthew 5:3-12 is a collection of blessings that Jesus gave to those who are striving to live a life of obedience to the LORD.  True obedience always brings with it a measure of sacrifice simply because godly behavior conflicts with the godless world in which the faithful are immersed.  In this collection, Jesus refers to the faithful using several descriptions that point out this dichotomy as they are “poor in spirit,” “immersed in mourning,” “meek,” “hungering for righteousness,” “merciful/compassionate,” “peacemakers,” “persecuted,” and “reviled.”  To an outsider, such a list does not sound like a very good recruiting strategy to faith, as this is the cost of discipleship that many are not willing to bear.  Living a life in Christ is to live a life in conflict with the very nature of this world, so the life of a Christian is perpetually immersed in this conflict.  People of faith, experiencing this unavoidable stress, need encouragement, and the Truth provides it.  The Beatitudes are exactly that: words of encouragement from the LORD, YAHWEH, Himself to those who are experiencing (or will experience) the cost of discipleship.

Matthew 5:3.  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Each of the beatitudes begins by describing those who express a specific obedient behavior as “blessed.”  To understand the Beatitudes, it is important to understand what it means to be blessed.  Some hold that blessing is defined as the receipt of good things.  Certainly, we find good things to be a “blessing” of this life, but that is not the intent of the word in this passage.  Blessing is a process by which a faithful person is placed in a position where God can demonstrate His love to them by showering them with His gifts. 

What Jesus is about to present is extremely controversial by the world’s standards.  The predominant cultural belief is that good things come to those who are good, and bad things come to those who are bad.  This dualistic theology, when exercised continues to argue that when one experiences bad things, it is a reward for some sin in their life, or in the lives of others who have authority over them.  To grant a blessing upon those who suffer is unheard of, but is consistent with the truth of the Gospel that Jesus came to share.

Consequently, the first of these blessings is offered to those who are “poor in Spirit,” a reference to those who are exceedingly humble concerning their worthiness before a Holy God.  Jesus did not waste any time in delving into controversy, as His statement exposes the vanity of the spiritual pride of the Jerusalem religious elite who think that they are the righteous ones who have earned their place next to God in heaven.  When the “poor in spirit” observe the religious leaders, they are convinced that they could never be as “righteous,” or as “perfect/complete” as those leaders.  They would hold that it is the religious elite, the scribes and the Pharisees, the ones who demonstrate a showy religion, who have the inside track to the Kingdom of God.  Jesus states that the opposite of what they are teaching is true.  Those who are humbled, those who do not consider themselves worthy of God’s blessing, are the very ones who are given access to the Kingdom of God.  It is the pride of the elite that prevents them from faith, and that faith prevents them from “entering” the Kingdom.  Such a statement would enrage the Jerusalem elite as it tends to transfer “ownership” of the Kingdom from themselves to the very people who they despise: the poor, the common people who have not raised themselves up to their special spiritual status.

Matthew 5:4.  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Like the first, the second of the Beatitudes is contrary to traditional Jewish orthodoxy.  To both the pagans and orthodox Jews, there was no hope beyond the grave.  Their hopeless devastated response to the death of loved ones is wrapped up in this word, “mourn.”

A few year ago my wife and I, accompanied by two teenage girls were given the privilege of bringing a Vacation Bible School to a remote Eskimo village in north-central Alaska.  Approximately the same time as our arrival came the death of a favorite son of that village, the twin brother of the village leader.  Following tradition, the entire village went to the little airport to accompany the body back to the family home from which the body would later be taken to a cemetery for burial in a beautiful hand-made wooden casket.  Upon arrival at the home, the body was taken inside as we remained outside, a few houses (igloos) away from the family home.  After the family and close friends entered the home, a loud chorus of howling voices overtook the afternoon.  The sound was far beyond dramatic, causing both of our young ladies to begin crying, and asking, “what is going on?”  My answer was simple…   “What you are hearing is the sound of hopelessness.   We may not be able to make a difference among the adults, but we can bring good news to the children.”  I doubt any of us will ever forget that moment.”[8]

The mourning that we heard in that Alaskan is typical of the mourning of Matthew 5:4, for those who are people of faith do not mourn as the pagans do.  Paul writes,

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

Faith in God places one in a position to receive blessing, and the way that faith informs one’s mourning over a loved one represents one of these.  People of faith understand that God has prepared an eternal place for all who place their faith and trust in Him.[9] To a person of faith, death is not a cold, dark end, but rather a transition to a new place where all of the faithful are gathered together to spend eternity with each other and with God.  The mourning of the faithful does not tend to be as intense, nor last as long, because of the knowledge of God’s graceful plan. 

Matthew 5:5.  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

When the people to whom Jesus spoke thought of those in the community that were held in respect, it was usually the religious leadership that they thought of.  Today, the culture seems to admire the “rich and famous.”  We are often exposed to the largesse of their lives and their possessions through the media.  Compared to these, the rest of us can believe that there is something missing from our lives.  Somehow, we think that it is these who are the important people of the world.  Jesus teaches the opposite.

The word that is rendered “meek” is literally “strength that is brought under productive control.”  Meekness does not refer to cowardliness, or a cowering behavior.  Meekness does not refer to weakness.  The true definition is the opposite of weakness or cowardliness.  The word that is used to translate the Greek is an Old-English term that is used in the field of animal husbandry, particularly as it may apply to horses.  In its verb form, one may refer to the “meeking” of a horse as the taming of the horse.  We use terms like, “broken,” to describe the work done on a wild horse to bring it under human control.  The “breaking” of a horse is not referring to bringing it injury, or affecting it in any way that would diminish its strength and courage.  The spirit of the horse is not broken, but rather its independent will is diminished.  Once meeked, the strength of the horse is brought under control and the horse can accomplish the tasks for which it is called.  Likewise, when the prideful, independent spirit of a person is brought under the control of the Holy Spirit, the LORD can do things through that person that would not be otherwise possible.  Moses is described as meekest man who ever lived.[10]

The promise that Jesus makes for those whose spirits have been brought under the control of the Holy Spirit is that they would “inherit the earth.”  The idea of inheritance has not change a lot over the years, representing the good things that parents pass down to their children.  It is God’s intent to bless the faithful, and those who demonstrate that faithfulness by being fully submitted to the LORD, the intention of the word meek in this passage, are in a position to receive many of the blessings, not only in eternity, but in this world also.  The “rich and famous,” or the “elite” of this world may have been successful in amassing the “things” of this world, but the truth is, those “things” never seem to bring happiness.  God is promising to bless those who are meek by giving to them the things of this world (and the next) that will serve to satisfy their true needs.

Matthew 5:6.  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

If there is anything that is common to the spirit of man, from his first creation until today, is their universal understanding of their personal righteousness.  Virtually all religions have been formed to provide a system through which people can find some form of “righteousness” to compensate for their personal sin.  The only means to find righteousness is to place one’s faith and trust in God who has promised to forgive their sins, accepting them as righteous.  No other system of righteousness is available to mankind.

In the years of spiritual darkness between the exile of Israel in Babylon and the coming of the Christ Child, the religious leadership of Israel became obsessed with the Law of Moses, convinced that adherence to this Law would impart righteousness upon those who are obedient to it.  However, they also understood that to break any part of the law was to be a lawbreaker, resulting in a state of unrighteousness.  Consequently, the religious leaders of the first century, like those before them, faced an incredible dilemma as they, through their teaching, claimed adherence to the Law.  They considered themselves the “righteous ones,” making that identity well-known among the people, but knowing that they could not keep every tenet of the Law.  The very foundation of their beliefs brought only hypocrisy to their search for righteousness.

There is only one source of righteousness, and that is found in God’s grace towards the sin of those who trust in Him.  Those who place their faith and trust in God, will find peace in the knowledge that their sins are forgiven, and though we will never live lives that are free from sin, and thus we will never live righteous lives, God promises to completely forgive those who trust in Him.  Sin can no longer separate the faithful from the eternal reward of God’s love for them.[11]  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will find it through faith in God.

Matthew 5:7.  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy is demonstrated through the kind and forgiving response to one who does not Certainly, as it becoming more true every day today, mercy was in short supply in the ancient near-east.  With their zeal for the Law, the religious elite of the first century were quick to judge, and quick to dispense the tenets of the law upon those who broke it.  Again, with the universal understanding that each person was a lawbreaker, the early Jews were always subject to judgment, criticism, and harsh treatment for their “unrighteousness.”  There is no hope for sin without the grace of God, and there was no hope for these people under their current social order.

Jesus is teaching an entirely different response to the unrighteousness of man: mercy.  Mercy cannot be separated from grace, the concept of giving a reward to one who does not deserve it.  God offer of forgiveness is a work of His grace, demonstrated by His mercy towards those who trust in Him.  Likewise, Jesus calls upon all of those who consider themselves to be His disciples to demonstrate mercy rather than judgment.  None of us can withstand the penalty for our own sin without God’s mercy.  Having received forgiveness, it is appropriate that people of faith forgive one another, demonstrating that same grace and mercy that God afforded to us.

Mercy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s working in the life of a believer.  Faithfulness empowers and breeds grace and mercy.  When one is in a community of faithful believers, one should feel the acceptance of one another as mercy is shared among them.  Though Christians are probably famous for their intolerance and judgmental attitude towards others, this is not the Christianity that Christ teaches.  As the community of faithful show mercy, each receives mercy, both from the community and from the LORD.   

Matthew 5:8.  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

The Jews had a long and well-defined tradition concerning “seeing God,” so this statement would certainly get their attention.  They fully understood that, to see God was to die.  Moses met the LORD on Mt. Sinai, “and he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”  The religious elite taught that one could only see God through living a life that is perfect under the Law.  This belief was firmly planted in Jewish life, but somewhat ignorant of the LORD’s statement that immediately preceded it when He told Moses, “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”[12]

Jesus describes a “prerequisite” to seeing God: a pure heart.  When we look into the heart of man we find anything but purity, but rather hearts that are overwhelmed with pride, bigotry, hatred, lust, envy, jealousy, … and the list continues.  An honest look at our base motives might leave us with the opinion that a pure heart is an impossibility in today’s self-centered culture. 

If we consider each of the heart-sins, the characteristics of a pure heart can be found by listing their opposites.  Pride is replaced with humility.  Bigotry is replaced by unconditional love, as is hatred, envy and jealousy.  When we realize that the choice to love unconditionally, empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a faithful believer in the LORD serves to diminish the expression of these heart-sins, and realize that God has forgiven those sins that remain, we find that the goal of a pure heart is not that far away.

Understanding this, the seeming impossibility of “seeing God” becomes more plausible.  As the disciples were surrounding Jesus, many were doing so with a sincere desire to learn more about God, and simply by looking upon Jesus they were looking upon the “face of God.”  However, Jesus’ statement goes far beyond His presence on the hillside, as He is speaking to everyone who will hear and respond to His words.  Though we approach the LORD as imperfect people, with sin in our hearts, God has a plan for providing us access to Him:

Romans 5:8-9.  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Ephesians 2:8-9.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

1 Corinthians 13:12.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

God’s grace is actually implemented in magnificent simplicity:  those who have given their hearts and lives to the LORD through faith and trust in Him will see Him face to face when He brings them to Himself at the end of this life; at the end of the age.  Neither a pure heart, nor the sight of God are impossibilities.  Both are found through faith.

Matthew 5:9.  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

When approaching the seventh Beatitude, it is helpful if we understanding the meaning of the word, “peacemakers.”  If we were to ask virtually anyone on the street what it means to be a peacemaker, virtually the universal response would be someone who works to end the ravages of war, stepping in to minimize the conflict between opposing groups of people.  In a smaller sense, it might refer to those who work to reconcile conflicts between smaller groups or even individuals.  The work of a peacemaker is a work of reconciliation.  However, the context is still quite dramatically different than what we might assume at first.  Since the passage closes with being called the “children of God,” the context deserves some investigation.  Paul speaks of this ministry of reconciliation that is given to those who have placed their faith in God:

1 Corinthians 5:18-20a.  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,

The conflict that Jesus came to end was not between people, though the spirit if faith certainly serves to minimize human conflict.  Jesus came to reconcile the conflict between man and God, specifically man’s rebellion against the One True God who loves them.  Paul and James also write of this conflict:

Romans 8:7-8.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

James 4:4.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Peace with God is only found through sincere faith in Him.  Cessation of this eternal conflict necessitates people coming to the LORD in faith, necessitating the work of those who share the gospel of Jesus Christ with this lost world.  Paul writes, citing a verse from Isaiah:

Romans 10:5:14-15.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, ...

Isaiah 52:7.  How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Who are the peacemakers?  These are those who have placed their faith and trust in God.  All people who have done so are called to be witnesses of the gospel to the lost world.  All people who have done so are called the “sons of God.”   Therefore, blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:10.  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.    

Having entered the conflict between man and God, all people of faith are subject to the consequences of that “battle.”  It is the LORD’s desire that all would be saved,[13] but most will not, either because they have rebelled against the gospel, or that they have not heard the gospel in a productive context.  Consequently, we are immersed in a world where most people simply do not understand the reasoning behind the attitudes and actions of a person of faith. 

When one is persecuted for “righteousness sake,” they are being persecuted by an ungodly world for their godly behavior. Jesus’ reminder is subtle… God has promised an eternity in heaven with Him.  Living a life of faith in an ungodly world is like running a race.  Paul writes,

Philippians 3:13-14.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The conflict with this world is not unlike the resistance one experiences when running a significant race.  Sometimes the resistance is light when one receives criticism, or marginalized in the normal activities in life, such as at work and leisure activities.  Part of the race includes giving a reason for godly behavior.[14]  Most Christians will testify to a certain amount of fear when called upon to share the reason for their hope in the LORD.  Fear of rejection is simply one of those hurdles that one must jump while running the race.  However, like the athlete who continues to pursue the goal and finds their body strengthened, running the race of the “high calling” strengthens one’s faith, making that next hurdle feel just a little lower.  As the Holy Spirit, the author of the kingdom of heaven, works in the life of the believer that blessing of faith becomes more realized, and the goal becomes more visible.  It may be worth noting that this metaphor begins to break down at this point, simply because the truly faithful have already received the reward of the kingdom.  However, even this truth can help encourage one to continue to run the race.

Matthew 5:11.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Related to the previous Beatitude, this statement steps the level of persecution up a notch.  Where the persecution of the previous version referred to the gentle resistance that the faithful receive for living their lives of faith in a faithless world, the persecution of this verse refers for the deliberate acts of others towards people of faith, specifically because of that faith.  Such persecution can range from verbal to physical attacks.  One does not need to be a student of history to learn of extreme persecution at the hands of those who hate Christianity.  More Christians have been martyred in the last 100 years than all of the rest of history combined, and the rate is continually increasing.    

Matthew 5:12.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

John, the writer of the Apocalypse, the Revelation, was given a glimpse of eternity and described the scenes of worship that took place at the “altar.”  His description clearly states that the martyrs are at the foot of the altar, indicative of their closest proximity to the LORD.[15] The LORD clearly promises that a reward awaits the faithful, and those who have experienced persecution can be “exceeding glad,” a term that is related to the word, “blessed” that precedes each of the Beatitudes, because their reward is “great.”

The LORD never promised that the Christian life would be without conflict or difficulties.  There is no promise of worldly riches and power.  The LORD promises that the Christian life will be blessed.  Those blessings that the LORD gives in this life are the product of God’s unconditional love for His “sons,” and the rewards of unconditional love that people of faith hold for one another.  Knowing that there is a great reward at the end of the race can help the faithful to remain focused, as Paul states, on the “mark of the high calling,” finding both direction and strength as the race is run.

When Jesus was teaching His disciples in the “Sermon on the Mount” they had no idea how important these words would become.  It was these who became the leaders of the early church and found themselves immersed in a world that hated them.  They suffered persecution that ranged from rejection by their families and marginalization in commerce to martyrdom for those whose stand for Christ was well-known and uncompromised.  They were able to continue in the faith because of their knowledge of the truth of the gospel, the blessings of a life of faith, and the promise of the eternal reward.  Likewise, the same world exists today where people of faith are experiencing accelerating persecution at the hands of those who hate Christianity.  Jesus’ lessons that were given in this “Sermon” are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago, and as one continues the study of this sermon, it is helpful to remember the Beatitudes that Jesus taught at the beginning so that people of faith can be encouraged to run the race to its blessed end. 

[1] Mark 6:3.  Jesus was referred to as the “Son of Mary” by the people in His hometown of Nazareth, rather than being called the “Son of Joseph.”  This was a not-so-veiled insult that repeats their knowledge that Joseph is not Jesus’ father, and that He is the illegitimate child of Mary.  Such illegitimacy was detested by their culture, and made it nearly impossible for those who knew Jesus to believe His claim.

[2] Matthew 5:1-12.

[3] Matthew 7:1,15,21,26-27.

[4] Deuteronomy

[5] W.R. Domeris, p. 67.

[6] Murray, Jon E. p. 374.

[7] The most dangerous passages in the Bible are the familiar ones, because we do not really listen to them. The sharp stone of God's Word, smoothed down by the river of time, no longer cuts. Instead of being challenged by hard thought or hard choices, we lean back and savor pretty words. No pericope (passage) in the Gospels is more exposed to this familiarity that breeds contentment than the beatitudes in Matthew's Gospel.  John P. Meier, p. 281.

[8] The circumstances surrounding the funeral did provide the opportunity for us to establish a wonderful relationship with the adults in the community, many of whom are very faithful Christians. 

[9] John 24:2-3.

[10] Number 12:3.

[11] Romans 8:1.

[12] Exodus 33:19-20.

[13] 1 Timothy 2:4.

[14] 1 Peter 3:15.

[15] Revelation 6:9