In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), Jesus gave the eight Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12). All are meant as virtues showing one of three things:
That we need God:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- 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.
That we seek God:
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
That we are of the light, and the darkness knows we are of the light:
- Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
These eight themes form a cornerstone of Jesus’ ministry, and are touched on repeatedly both by Jesus himself and the later New Testament writers. All are also foreshadowed in the Old Testament.
Each article in this series revisits one of the eight Beatitudes, and expounds on it. There is a reason that the Beatitudes were given first in one of Jesus’ most famous sermons: they set the stage for everything that comes later. Understand these eight virtues and why they’re virtues, and the rest of Jesus’ teachings will make perfect sense.