Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009, All Saints, Matthew 5:3-12

And seeing the crowds He went up into the mountain, and (upon) His sitting, His disciples came to Him; And He opened His mouth (and) was teaching them, saying, "Blessed--the poor in the spirit; because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed--the mourners; because they will be comforted. Blessed--the humble/gentle; because they will gain possession of the earth. Blessed--the hungerers and thirsters of the righteousness; because they will be satisfied. Blessed--the pitiers; because they will be pitied. Blessed--the clean in heart; because they will see God. Blessed--the peacemakers; because they will be called sons of God. Blessed--those having been persecuted for the sake of righteousness; because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed you are whenever they insult you and persecute and speak all evils against you {falsely} for My sake. Rejoice and be elated, because your reward (is) great in the heavens; for (this is) just as they persecuted the prophets, those before you.

Today we honor those believers who have gone before us to heaven. We recognize the holiness of these saints, which was not from them, but from God alone. The holiness God provided for His saints came to them in the form of everlasting blessings which they enjoy forevermore in heaven. This wondrous blessing of holiness isn't just for them, but for you as well. So, when you hear all these *blesseds* of the beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, note how they are for all saints, including you!

The first couple of blesseds describe us when we are pretty low–poor in spirit and mourning. How can that be a blessing? When you are feeling down in the dumps, you hope somebody will help *lift* your spirits, don't you? Yet Jesus says that it's actually a blessing to be poor in spirit, and to mourn on account of death. For only when you are so low will you recognize the lofty blessings of God's kingdom above!

God makes you poor in spirit when you sin. He gives you a sorry and guilty conscience, working contrition in your heart. The Spirit drives you to admit you are a poor miserable sinner who deserves nothing but death. When you start to mourn your *own* sin-earned death, that's when God has you right where He wants you, so that you can be comforted by His word of absolute forgiveness in Christ Jesus, your Savior. Your Pastor tells you that your sin is gone to the cross, and the kingdom of heaven is now yours!

A couple more of these blesseds talk of righteousness. Oddly, you first learn that you don't have any! How does this make you blessed? Once you realize that the works which save are not something that you can do for yourself, you will no longer strive to be self-righteous by all the prideful things you think you can do to please God. You hunger and thirst for an alien righteousness from outside of yourself.

Jesus Himself satisfied your hungering and thirsting for righteousness by giving you His Own righteousness from the cross. There, when the spear pierced his side, the pure water of His righteousness flowed forth into the baptismal font. Your Savior took your sins and their wages of death upon Himself at the cross, and gives you His holy righteousness in exchange at your Baptism. His goodness, His perfection, His right-ness in all He thought, said and did are now credited to your account by faith in the kingdom of the heavens!

The remaining blesseds are wimpy by this world's standards. Being meek, merciful, clean-hearted and a peace-maker don't make anybody much of a hero here on earth. How are you blessed to have these looked-down-upon qualities? You won't have much to show for these attributes here and now. Instead you will be made fun of, ridiculed, mocked, and picked on if you show forth these characteristics regularly.

The blessings connected with these beattituded aren't found in this life, but in the next. But don't the meek inherit the earth? Yes, but not this polluted, decaying and dying world. You are blessed to inherit the world to come–the paradise above! There you will see God with your own eyes! There you will be counted as Sons of God! There God's mercy will be yours, and you will find lasting peace in the foretaste of that feast to come of the Lord's Supper–Jesus' body and blood held forth for you as His Peace!

As Jesus teaches all these blesseds, He reveals the source of all lasting blessings–Himself! Rejoice! In Jesus you are blessed to be comforted by His word of forgiveness. In Jesus you are blessed to be washed clean of your sin and filled with His righteousness. In Jesus you have the eternal peace of heaven.

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