From a book titled "The True Jesus, by David Limbaugh, I was struck by many of his original thoughts and appreciated all his references. For years, though completely moved by the Sermon on the Mount, it also became apparent that I never "received" the full meaning of the Beatitudes. This narrative borrows, but not exclusively, from a section in Limbaugh's book titled The Beatitudes. He references the ESV® where it is written, "A beatitude is a pronouncement of blessing phrased in a formula that begins with 'Blessed is' or 'blessed are.'" Blessed means more than just happiness; it is a state of well-being for those who respond to Jesus' ministry.
The word beatitude comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning "blessedness." The phrase "blessed are" in each beatitude implies a current state of happiness or well-being. This expression held a powerful meaning of "divine joy and perfect happiness" to the people of Christ's day. In other words, Jesus was saying, "divinely happy and fortunate are those who possess these inward qualities." While speaking of a current "blessedness," each statement also promised a future reward (learnreligions.com). Each beatitude depicts the ideal heart condition of a citizen of the kingdom of God.
John Ritenbaugh states, "There is no doubt, though, to whom this message applies. Some parts of its instruction might be considered as of a general nature, yet the overwhelming majority of it applies only to the converted, those having the Spirit of God. Its thrust is not evangelistic—intended to call people into the church—but internal, as it sets standards for those already converted to prepare them for God's Kingdom when it comes in its fullness. The instruction is intensely practical; it deals, not as much with things to be believed, but with things to be done"(Ritenbaugh, J., The Beatitudes, Part One: The Sermon on the Mount, 1999). Emphasis added
The Beatitudes give Jesus' description of the characteristics of true faith. (Limbaugh)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to those poor in spirit. In other words, those with a repentant, humble spirit. Someone who is poor in spirit is humble because they recognize their spiritual lack and unworthiness apart from God. Further, they understand and accept the need to rely on God.
Summarized: Blessed are those who humbly recognize their need for God, for they will enter into his kingdom. The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit─those with a repentant, humble spirit.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Here, it appears Jesus is not referring to the chronically unhappy or those self-pitying, but those who genuinely express deep sorrow over their sinful state and repent from their sins.
Summarized: Blessed are those who mourn, i.e., grieve or are deeply distressed, for their sins, for they shall receive forgiveness and life eternally.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
The meek are those that are humble and don't use others to further their agenda. In other words, personal gain is not the goal. Similar to "the poor," "the meek" are those who submit to God's authority and make Him Lord of their lives. It was written, "The meek are also imitators of Jesus Christ who exemplified gentleness and self-control' (learnreligions.com).
Summarized: Blessed are those who submit to God as their Lord, for they will inherit everything He possesses.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
The person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be filled with it. This "righteousness" refers to Christ Jesus. This "hunger" and "thirst" being filled brings extreme satisfaction to our soul's desire.
Summarized: Blessed are those who passionately long for Christ Jesus, for He will satisfy their soul.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
God will show mercy to those who are merciful to others. We will reap what we sow. From a passage in Galatians: "Don't be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Gal. 6:7-8, NKJV).
Summarized: Blessed are those who show mercy through forgiveness, kindness, and compassion, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Only God is perfect in every way, i.e., pure in heart. Only He has absolute moral and ethical purity. However, through Christ Jesus, we have the means and are given every opportunity to show God who we are internally and not just externally. God cannot be "seen" by our eyes (John 1:18) so seeing God is metaphorical, i.e., not literal. However, this does not mean He cannot be known. For Believers, God is closer than our heartbeat so that He can be "seen" in a very profound way.
Summarized: Blessed are those who have been purified from inside out, being made clean and holy, for they shall "see" God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called the sons of God.
The use of the word peacemakers here is not referring to the everyday use of pacifists' definition. In this beatitude, peacemaker refers to having peace with God through Christ Jesus.
Summarized: Blessed are those who have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and bring this same message of reconciliation to others. All who have peace with God are His children (Fairchild, M.) italics added.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Christ Jesus certainly endured persecution and assured us, His followers, that we will too.
Summarized: Blessed are all those who accept and live for Christ Jesus. They will receive the kingdom of heaven.
We should all find peace, comfort, and encouragement from this:
11Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matt. 5:11-12, NKJV).