Red Letter Year: 3/14

Matthew 5:1-11

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.


The Sermon on the Mount is the most concentrated extended passage of Jesus’ teaching in all the Gospels. Unlike the other three writers, Matthew arranges his Gospel more thematically than chronologically, or you might say more in terms of genre. In chapters 5-7 we have uninterrupted expository preaching/teaching. Later we will read chunks of parables all collected together and miracle stories all grouped together. It makes for a very powerful written form; the Sermon on the Mount has been a key text for many disciples and friends of Jesus. We are going to take it slowly through The Sermon, but even so, I cannot begin to give adequate commentary to the teaching in this space (which is not the goal here anyway, I want your focus on the red letters more than what I have to say). For today, let me draw your attention to just one thing. I said yesterday that the summary for the whole of The Sermon was 4.17:  “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” One way to read the Blessings is that they describe the condition of people likely to repent and the activity of people who have completed the turn toward God. Those who are poor and feel their poverty, those who mourn, those who have been humiliated, those who have been denied justice – these are people ready to turn away from sin and self. Once they do make that turn 180 degrees and begin moving toward Jesus, these same people work to show mercy, to purify, to create peace, and to keep doing what is right in the face of adversity. Blessings on everyone who turn and follow Jesus.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.