TEXT: Matthew 5:1-12; Psalm 119:1-6
The students will be able to give, in their own words, the meaning of each of the Beatitudes. This should help them realize the necessity of following Christ’s perfect formula to obtain true happiness.
Jesus taught His followers how man ought to live, but His teachings turned ordinary human ideas about happiness upside down. Contrary to general opinion, He taught that it is not the schemers, those who bend the rules, who are the real successes. The truly happy ones are those who recognize the futility of self-reliance and learn to depend wholly on God. Everything else follows from this. The people who can be certain of future blessings are the humble, the forgiving, the pure, those who set their hearts on what is right, who try to heal the rifts.
No one is sure about the exact location for the Sermon on the Mount. Two locations are accepted—the Horns of Hattin, south of the Sea of Galilee, and the location which is now called the Mount of Beatitudes, a hilly region not far from Capernaum, toward the west.
Jesus’ teachings to His disciples and the multitudes as found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 are known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” The blessings He pronounced at the beginning of that message are called The Beatitudes which means “perfect blessedness or happiness."
- What is the meaning of the word blessed, as found in the Beatitudes?
Response: It means “happy,” but specifically the happiness that is only to be found in serving God and obeying His Word. It denotes a peace of mind. Jesus said, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). To be truly blessed of God is different from any happiness the world can bring.
- In reference to our key verse, there are four requirements in order to receive the promise that we shall be blessed in our doings. List these four requirements and briefly explain each.
Response: We must “look” into the perfect law of liberty, “continue” therein, “not be forgetful,” and “be a doer.” Discuss with your students how each of these can be accomplished.
- How many of the basic ingredients for happiness listed in Matthew 5:3-12 are necessary if we wish to follow Jesus and truly be His disciples?
Response: We are admonished to endeavor to have all of these Christian attributes in order to receive God’s full blessing on our lives. A true disciple or follower of Christ desires to keep all His commandments.
- Listed below are eight basic ingredients Jesus gave for happiness. After each of these give a short definition of what you think is meant. In the next column, list Jesus’ promise to those who exhibit that quality.
The poor in spirit
They that mourn
They which hunger and thirst after righteousness
The pure in heart
The persecuted for righteousness’ sake
Response: Listen to the students’ answers and share with them your thoughts. Following are some suggestions you may offer.
The poor in spirit: This quality indicates humility and absence of pride; one’s realizing a need before God. Romans 12:3 tells us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who exhibit this quality.
They that mourn: After realizing their need, they must have a contrite spirit before God, which indicates a remorse and sorrow for their sins. God looks favorably on that one (Isaiah 66:2), and gives him comfort and forgiveness.
The meek: This denotes a mild and gentle spirit, and patient disposition, not easily irritated. Explain that this is just the opposite spirit of those in power in the earth, both in Jesus’ time and today, but Jesus said that these (the meek) shall inherit the earth.
They which hunger and thirst after righteousness: Bring out that just as physical hunger and thirst are fulfilled and satisfied by food and drink, so God has promised to spiritually fill and satisfy those who have a hunger or deep desire for righteousness and the things that are pleasing to God.
The merciful: This shows a kindness, compassion, and willingness to forgive beyond what would normally be expected of one. Stress that they were undeserving of God’s mercy, yet He gave it to them. In like manner, they should show mercy to others.
The pure in heart: One who exhibits holiness. Impress upon the students the importance of sanctification, holiness, purity. Jesus said that the pure in heart shall see God. Hebrews 12:14 tells us that without holiness no man shall see the Lord.
The peacemakers: They who make every effort to promote peace with others will be called the children of God. Jesus was called “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Paul the Apostle tells us to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18), and James 3:18 tells us the results of the actions of those who make peace.
The persecuted for righteousness’ sake: Jesus impressed upon His listeners that the kingdom of Heaven is the reward awaiting those who are patient and even rejoice when they are persecuted because of their righteousness. Show that the times the students are ridiculed because they are Christians cannot be compared to the sufferings some have gone through for Christ. Paul said that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Summarize your lesson with the thought that there are abundant blessings available for those who will follow Jesus’ requirements for happiness as outlined in the text and the key verse of our lesson.
Draw nine happy faces on hearts, writing one of the Beatitudes on the back of each. Use these to bring out the point that we can be blessed (more than happy) if we apply the Beatitudes to our lives.
Make a matching game of the Beatitudes, dividing each verse into two parts and making two complete sets. Divide your class into two teams. Have each team open a Bible to Matthew 5, and let them race to see which team can be the first to correctly match the verses.
Try to act out each of the Beatitudes by yourself. Have your students guess which Beatitude is being portrayed.
Give each student a sheet of paper on which the word BLESSED is printed down the left side. Ask them to write as many words as they can (beginning with each letter in the word blessed) that are things with which God blesses people today.