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The Beatitudes and Christ
Our meditations upon the Beatitudes would not be complete unless they turned our thoughts to the person of our blessed Lord. As we have endeavored to show, they describe the character and conduct of a Christian, and as Christian character is nothing more or less than being experimentally conformed to the image of God's Son we must turn to Him for the perfect pattern. In the Lord Jesus Christ we find the brightest manifestations of the highest exemplifications of the different spiritual graces which are found, dimly reflected, in His followers. Not one or two but all of these perfections were displayed by Him, for Me is not only "lovely," but "altogether lovely." May the Holy Spirit who is here to glorify Him take now of the things of Christ and show them unto us. First, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Most blessed is it to see how the Scriptures speak of Him who was rich becoming poor for our sakes, that we through His poverty might be rich. Great indeed was the poverty into which He entered. Born of parents who were poor in this world's goods, He commenced His earthly life in a manger. During His youth and early manhood He toiled at the carpenter's bench. After His public ministry had begun He declared that though the foxes had their holes and the birds of the air their nests, the Son of Man had not where to lay His head. If we trace out the Messianic utterances recorded in the Psalms by the Spirit of prophecy, we shall find that again and again He confessed to God His poverty of spirit: "I am poor and sorrowful" (Psa. 69:29); and, "Bow down thine ear, Oh Jehovah, for I am poor and needy" (Psa. 86:1); and again, "For I am poor and needy, and My heart is wounded within me" (Psa. 109:22). "Blessed are they that mourn. Christ was indeed the chief Mourner. Old Testament prophecy contemplated Him as "the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief." See Him "grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (Mark 3:5) Behold Him "sighing" ere He healed the deaf and dumb man (Mark 7:34). Mark Him weeping by the graveside of Lazarus. Hear His lamentation over the beloved city, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together" (Matt. 23:37). Draw near and reverently behold Him in the gloom of Gethsemane, pouring out His petitions to the Father "with strong crying and tears" (Heb. 5:7). Bow in worshipful wonderment as you hear Him crying from the cross, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Hearken to His plaintive plea, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow" (Lam. 1:12). Third, "Blessed are the meek." A score of examples might be drawn from the Gospels illustrating the lovely lowliness of the incarnate Lord of glory. Mark it in the men selected by Him to be His ambassadors: He chose not the wise, the learned, the great, the noble, but poor fishermen for the most part. Witness it in the company which He kept: He sought not the rich and renowned, but was "the Friend of publicans and sinners." See it in the miracles which He wrought: again and again He enjoined the healed to go and tell no man what had been done for them. Behold it in the unobtrusiveness of His service: unlike the hypocrites who sounded a trumpet before them, He sought not the lime-light, shunned advertising, and disdained popularity. When the crowds would make Him their Idol, He avoided them (Mark 1:45; 7:17). When they would come and "Take Him by force to make Him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone" (John 6:15). When His brethren urged, "Show Thyself to the world," He declined, and went up to the feast in secret (John 7) . When He, in fulfillment of prophecy, presented Himself to Israel, as their King, He entered Jerusalem "lowly, and riding upon an ass" (Zech. 9:9). Fourth, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.'' What a summary is this of the inner life of the Man Christ Jesus! Before the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit announced, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins" (Isa. 4:5). When He entered this world, He said, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, Oh God" (Heb. 10:17). As a Boy of twelve He asked, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:41). At the beginning of His public ministry He declared, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt. 5:17). To His disciples He declared, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me (John 4:34). Of Him the Holy Spirit has said, "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Psa. 45:7). Well may He be called "The Lord our righteousness." Fifth, "Blessed are the merciful." In Christ we see mercy personified. It was mercy to poor lost sinners which caused the Son of God to exchange the glory of Heaven for the shame of earth. It was mercy, wondrous and matchless, which took Him to the Cross, there to be made a curse for His people. So it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5). He still exercises mercy to us as our "merciful and faithful High Priest" (Heb. 2:17). So also we are to be "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 21), because He will show us mercy in "that Day" (2 Tim. 1:18). Sixth, "Blessed are the pure in heart." This too was perfectly exemplified in Christ. He was the Lamb "without spot and without blemish. In becoming Man, He was uncontaminated, contracting none of the defilement's of sin. His humanity was "holy" (Luke 1:35). He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26). "In him was no sin" (I John 3:5), therefore He "did no sin" (I Peter 2:22) and "knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). "He is pure" (I John 3:3). Because He was absolutely pure in nature, His motives and actions were always pure. "I seek not Mine own glory" (John 8:50) sums up the whole of His earthly career. Seventh, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Supremely true is this of our blessed Saviour. He is the One who "made peace through the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20). He was appointed to be "a propitiation" (Rom. 3:25), that is, the One who should pacify God's wrath, satisfy every demand of His broken law, glorify His justice and holiness. So, too, has He made peace between the alienated Jew and Gentile: see Eph. 2:14-15. In a coming day He will yet make peace on this sin-cursed and war-stricken earth. When He shall sit upon the throne of His father, David, then shall be fulfilled that word, "Of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end" (Isa. 9:7). Well may He be called "The Prince of Peace." Eighth, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake." None was ever persecuted as was the Righteous One. What a word is that in Rev. 12:4! By the spirit of prophecy He declared, "I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up" (Psa. 88:15). On His first public appearance we are told they "rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong" (Luke 4:29). In the temple precincts they "took up stones to cast at him" (John 9:59). All through His ministry His steps were dogged by enemies. The religious leaders charged Him with having a demon (John 8:38). Those who sat in the gate spake against Him, and He was the song of the drunkards (Psa. 69:12). At His trial they plucked off His hair (Isa. 50:6) , spat in His face, buffeted Him, and smote Him with the palms of their hands (Matt. 26:67). After He was scourged by the soldiers and crowned with thorns, carrying His own cross, He was led to Calvary, where they crucified Him. Even in His dying hours He was not left in peace, but was persecuted by revilings and scoffings. How unutterably mild in comparison is the persecution we are called on to endure for His sake! In like manner, each of the promises attached to the Beatitudes find their accomplishment in Christ. Poor in spirit He was, but His supremely is the kingdom. Mourn He did, yet will He be comforted as He sees of the travail of His soul. Meekness personified, yet shall He Sit on a throne of glory. He hungered and thirsted after righteousness, yet now is He filled with satisfaction as He beholds the righteousness He wrought imputed to His people. Pure in heart, He sees God as none other does (Matt. 11:27). As the Peacemaker, He is owned the Son of God by all the blood-bought children. As the persecuted One, great is His reward, having been given the Name above all others. May the Spirit of God occupy us more and more with Him who is fairer than the children of men.
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