Jesus started with the end in view. From the first day of His earthly ministry to the last, He had His two-fold purpose before Him: redemption and preparation, the cross and the commission.
He came to provide redemption for dying men and women. But what good would His redemptive death be if there were no one to tell others what it means? How could He establish a redemptive movement if He had no one to start it? That’s why He declared to His Father before the cross that He had accomplished His will by making the Father known to those He had given to Him and He asked the Father to restore His glory because of this obedience (John 17:1-7).
The cross was central to all He came to do, but the commission grows directly out of the cross. That’s also why He started His public teaching ministry with the Beatitudes. The first thing He did after He went public was to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of heaven; the next thing He did was to call His disciples. Why? So He could commission prepared communicators of the cross.
The cross is not only communicated with words; the message of the cross always demands works. Christ’s works, however, demand more than competence; Christ’s works demand Christ’s character. The angel of darkness can disguise himself as an angel of light, even as Pharaoh’s magicians did in Exodus.
So works, even miracles, without Christ’s character are deceptive deeds of darkness. This is why Jesus started with the Beatitudes, because the Beatitudes describe the character His followers must have to represent Him if we are to be Christ’s light in the darkness around us.
The Beatitudes are not a series of stand-alone descriptions of Christ’s followers. Each one cascades into the next until they all come together in the final Beatitude, the blessing for persecution. Those who are poor in spirit mourn and those who mourn are meek and those who are meek hunger and thirst for righteousness.
This is the flow of the Beatitudes from the first to the last; each one is progressively and organically connected to the rest so we can’t have the middle without those that come before it and we can’t have the last without the first. It is this cascade that transforms us into being Christ’s light in the kingdom of darkness.
The Beatitudes express Christ’s finished work, the end He had in view when He started with these abounding blessings: a redeemed and prepared citizen of the kingdom of heaven, an alien ambassador on earth, who penetrates the kingdom of darkness with Christ’s redemptive message through who he is and what he does.
Thus the first recorded words Christ uttered to His disciples in Matthew were the Beatitudes, and He started with the Beatitudes Attitude because He planned to prepare men and women in His image to penetrate the darkness of evil with the brilliance of His light. The great question is how bright is Christ’s light through us?
Seek to have the Beatitudes Attitude: passionately pursue Christlikeness through desperate dependence on Him.