"Blessed are the peacemakers." Not only do the followers of Christ find peace within through the pursuit of purity, they seek to promote peace with and among others also. Why? Because they are at peace themselves and know the blessing of it. The followers of Christ were formerly at war with God, and because they were at war with God they were also at war with others and themselves. Breaking the vertical relationship breaks horizontal ties. Now these followers of Jesus have peace. They did not make it. God made peace in them through Christ’s cross.

There is a special promise to those who are meek by which they may count themselves blessed: they shall "inherit the earth." The world may think such souls fit only for the kingdom of God, like the Emperor Julian who wrote mockingly that he only confiscated the property of Christians to make them poor enough to enter heaven. But Jesus does not say that they will inherit heaven, though they will. He says that they will inherit this earth, while those who currently possess it (he implies) will lose it all. How do they possess it? They possess it as the gospel spreads through preaching and God’s kingdom comes. In the ultimate sense the meek will possess the earth when Christ returns, renews its face, and subdues all things to himself forever. In that day the saints will reign with him.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit." In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes the words "in spirit" do not occur (Luke 6:20). Therefore, many have used Matthew’s version to point out that the poverty Jesus is speaking of here is not material but rather spiritual poverty. He is not praising physical privation. He is not saying that the materially poor are closer to the kingdom of God than the materially rich. What Jesus is commending is the opposite of a person’s being rich in pride.

If a producer of a popular movie, a director of one of today’s successful television shows, or the editor of a widely circulating news or fashion magazine were to rewrite the Beatitudes from a contemporary point of view, I suppose they would go like this: Blessed are the rich and powerful; blessed are the sexually liberated; blessed are the beautiful and handsome; blessed are the famous; blessed are those the world looks up to. This is the exact opposite of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are those who mourn; blessed are the meek; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; blessed are the merciful; blessed are the pure in heart; blessed are the peacemakers; blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness" (Matt. 5:3-10).

Jesus told the educated Nicodemus that he must be "born again" (John 3:3, 7). If he was not, he could not even see the kingdom of God, much less enter it. Regeneration is from above. However, once the work of regeneration has taken place, the individual is no longer as he or she was. The person is now Christ’s man or woman. He or she is one who sees the kingdom and strives with every effort to enter it.