Jesus begins his sermon with what we call “the Beatitudes,” which includes a list of people that are blessed. The word “blessed” can be hard to understand. It is especially hard for kids to grasp what it means to be blessed. It’s even more confusing when you consider that a common phrase we use when someone sneezes is “bless you!”
To make it easier for kids to understand, one way to explain what it means to be blessed is to be “fortunate.” Although “fortunate” is a good translation it doesn’t grasp the fullness of being blessed. A blessing is something only God can provide, and he provides it in heaven and/or on earth when he sees a heart centered on him.
Why did Jesus teach on the Beatitudes?
The Beatitudes include a list of rather confusing statements. Why would God bless those who are mourning? What Jesus is saying is that the people listed in the Beatitudes will be blessed because they care about the things that matter most to God. They care about peace, mercy, love and justice. They aren’t blessed because of something they’ve done or accomplished (like following a rule or law). They are blessed because of their heart.
Jesus kicks off his sermon with the Beatitudes because this sets up the entire point of his message. You see, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is about our hearts.
Heart vs. Law
Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount was a message that would have turned his followers upside down, because it puts focus on the heart, not the law! Jesus wants them to begin to understand that simply following laws out of obligation removes the heartfelt intent behind them. Through his sermon he is teaching them to change the position of their heart; and in doing so, their actions will follow.
So, how do we change our hearts? Isn’t it easier to just obey the law? Yes, that’s exactly the point. The Jewish people had over 600 laws to obey! It was easy for them to know what they could and couldn’t do, and just obey or disobey. But, Jesus called them (and us) to something more!
We can only change our hearts when we center our lives on Him. This is why we pray and read the Bible. We do this so we can get to know God better and have a personal, real relationship with his son Jesus. As we get to know Jesus better, and talk to him through prayer, we can ask him to help turn our hearts to the things that are important to him. We can ask Him to help us love people more and focus our hearts on what’s important to him.
Think about and discuss…
Think about some laws or rules that you have to obey. Discuss as a family the heart behind the rule. What are some of the commandments that we obey because we love Jesus? What do you think Jesus wants us to understand in our heart about them?