Matthew 5:3-12

A Kingdom Citizenship Outline
Pastor Nate Bucher

Matthew 5:3-12


So we’ve come to one of the most well known portions of the Sermon on the Mount and probably of the entire Bible. Very likely you have a heading in your Bible, calling this the Beatitudes. I’ll never forget talking about these once in youth group at the church I grew up in, and we had some curriculum we were using to help us learn about the Sermon.    It had the heading — Be — Attitudes. Of course it was in some sort of crazy late 90’s font that was reminiscent of the original “Saved by The Bell”. But as I thought about the cheese factor of that headline — it does have a way of getting at the beginning of the sermon’s intent.

Jesus has been preaching that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand — He’s claiming a new Kingdom is here. One of the commentators that I read remarked about Matthew using the title, the Kingdom of Heaven, instead of God, was a way to give a separation. For much of Israel’s history they were God’s people, so their earthly Kingdom was thought of as God’s Kingdom here on earth. Matthew speaking to His Jewish audience wanted to show a distance between the two — Heaven is not of this earth — thus, this Kingdom is something new — different.[1]

So we must have a wide angle view on the whole message of the Sermon to properly understand its parts. And through this entire sermon Jesus is giving a peek into what life in this New Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven looks like. So that cheesy headline of Be —Attitude is correct in the manner that this next portion of text is what we should be in  the Kingdom of Heaven. And to be a part of a Kingdom we are considered a citizen — formal recognition of our inclusion in a certain kingdom.  The idea of citizenship implies that there are things that we receive — or expectations of life in that kingdom. It also implies that there is a certain code of law that we abide by. With that, I’d like us to answer this question:

What does a Citizen of Heaven look like?

What are the characteristics of a person living with the realization of their true and ultimate citizenship? And again to understand the whole of the Sermon and the importance of its parts, Martin Lloyd-Jones explains that this first passage focuses on the more general aspects of one in the Kingdom of heaven, then moves throughout the Sermon to more particular or specific ways that a follower or Christ displays their true citizenship.[2] 

With that backdrop we now are able to look closely at what these general characteristics are of a Citizen of Heaven.


The first word of our text — Blessed — This is something that has been quite the topic of discussion through the centuries of study on the Sermon.  Some Bible translations use the word Happy. The Greek word that is in discussion is the word: Μακάριοι. And according to lexicons, it does mean:

  • favored
  • blessed
  • fortunate
  • happy
  • privileged

So its this range of meaning trying to be encapsulated by one word, but one of the commentators that has helped me get a better grasp on this translates this as the word — flourishing.[3]  Blessed sometimes leads us to think that we receive something tangible. Happy can be a fleeting emotion that is based upon circumstance. Flourishing is how God created humanity in the beginning — that they would flourish is the Garden, His people, His place, under His rule. What a blessing that would have been — what happiness Adam and Eve must have experienced.  That is where humanity flourished most — before the fall.

So now Jesus is here bringing God’s place, God Himself, to be with His people and to see to their ultimate restored flourishing.

So — Flourishing is the —

Read verses 3-5.

The poor in Spirit

— not to be confused with the materially poor. If someone is poor in Spirit, this is not just someone that thinks poorly of themselves or has a bad self-esteem; rather, Jesus is getting at the heart of real issue — a real understanding of our own spiritual inability to make ourselves right before God. I love the way John Stott put it:

“Thus, to be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, indeed our spiritual bankruptcy, before God. For we are sinners, under the holy wrath of God, and deserving nothing but the judgment of God. We have nothing to offer, nothing to plead, nothing with which to buy the favour of heaven.”[4]

But right here — Jesus says that those will be the ones that are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. So our display is self-realization — and hope for the fulfilled promise of Jesus. If we turn this into the implied negative — think about these words: Cursed is the arrogant of spirit, for theirs is NOT the kingdom of Heaven.

The mourning

— So often we think about those who have been plagued by sorrow

  • Sorrowful events
  • Sorrowful circumstances
  • Sorrowful consequences

Those are the ones weeping — and certainly it is biblically true that God Himself weeps with those who weep. Again if we think about that idea of flourishing — that is the removal of the things that cause sorrow; that is the true experience to come in the Kingdom that is already, but not yet. But again, if these are more general heart dispositions of a Kingdom citizen — Those are the ones who mourn over their sin. Pleading like Paul to say, I continue to do the very things I hate.[5] 

Can we honestly say we HATE our sin? Not the consequences of sin, but the very sin. Do we normalize or justify our sin because we live under grace?  Again, this is not a moping about, but an intentional hatred of our sinful habits. Do we have sorrow for our sin? Because those who do— their ultimate comfort is living with God, In His place, with His people, under His eternal rule.

The meek

 Something that is antithetical to the world — meekness. The world continues to proclaim the greatness of getting what’s yours. Name it and claim it — do whatever it takes to get what you want. But rather, meekness is what Jesus is proclaiming. This word struck me — πραεῖς the root – πραυςThis is the same exact word Jesus uses in Matthew 11:29 to describe HIMSELF:

 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am GENTLE and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

This is the idea that we have a real understanding of ourselves. We are not brash and or have an over inflated view of ourselves. Rather we are gentle — humbleagain having the heart disposition of realizing our place in comparison to God’s place. 

“The man that is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.”[6]

 These three beatitudes seem to group well together in that they are centered around our own realization of need.

Point 1:

A Kingdom Citizen recognizes their greatest need on account of their sinfulness. A kingdom Citizen has a real view their own sin, mourns that sin, and has an attitude that is surprised by the Grace of God.

Next we move to hungering and thirsting

Read verse 6

This in my study has seemed to be a hinge of sorts in the entire list of beatitudes. Once we’ve realized our great need — our appetite changes.  We hunger and thirst for His righteousness — We want more of His character — for ultimately He — Jesus — is the perfect picture of righteousness. We can’t just will ourselves to be more righteous — its not something that comes from within —Rather it is being constantly focused on ways that will cultivate and support the growth that the Spirit is doing within us.

I was struck by an image this week as I spoke about the great impact brother Glenn had on all of those around him when I met with a friend — This person replied, “he was a big Oak”.  I just kept thinking about that and with this hunger and thirst for righteousness — A big oak tree has roots that go deep — they are hungry and thirsty to get the most water and nutrition from the land.  If their roots were shallow — they don’t get the same food — they don’t get saturated with as much water because it runs off — They sometimes are exposed by the elements and get nicks in them by our lawn mower — And here it is — shallow roots are often visible — they look like roots, but they do not work most effectively — But deep roots — not visible — most effective.

The people in our lives that are Big Oaks of faith, consistently find themselves in the midst of things that help them grow and consume more of Christ’s righteousness. This transformation — the deepening of our roots — that is where we find satisfaction — in Him alone.

Point 2:

A Kingdom Citizen has a transformed desire for the righteousness of God.  We desire to grow — to be satisfied by God and His righteousness. Therefore we put ourselves in situations that cultivate that growth. Often completely unseen to all around us.


The next three beatitudes now transition to a heart disposition that enables action.  Read verses 7—9

The merciful

— that is our disposition towards others who have done wrong to us. Do we show mercy — or do we hold that grudge? Do we passive-aggressively give them the cold shoulder? This is one that I continue to think of in our world todayHow could we not show mercy when we desperately understand the great mercy we have been shown by God?

There are just consequences of sinful behavior in our Kingdom here. I’m not trying to undermine law and order — in no way — but bring this down to a personal level — Do you seek revenge or spite — because a Kingdom citizen it says right here is one that shows mercy instead. Often times I get frustrated at someone’s treatment of me, but then just think. That person is a sinner just like me— in need of a Savior — Look at my rebellious heart that God has shown mercy — how can I not do likewise?

The pure in heart

—This one seems less actionable — But in reality when you are pure in heart — there is unity of desire and motivations. If one is not pure — or is split — then our actions will be conflicting on account of our disunited motivations. If we are of one heart that is purely seeking to glorify God then we will in turn have actions that follow that motivation.

In contrast, if we think we can have one foot in a sense in church and the other in the world. Trying to impress church people — trying to impress our worldly friends. We are not pure of heart — we are caught between two kingdoms. There is not unity — we will find the most flourishing when we are unified in our heart — striving to glorify God in all things.

Think about how we will treat others when we want to glorify and honor God — we see their image bearing worth, therefore we treat them as such. Even when they are living in opposition to God and His ways — they are yet image bearers.

The Peacemakers

— we need to think about the expression — peace is something that is characterized as reconciliation. This is a Kingdom work! It looks different than our world — the world wants a facsimile of peace — one that is found through power and suppression.

Think of Pax Romana — the peace of Rome — through their military power and might they suppressed any different culture — whereas God is doing a work of reconciliation. He is telling us that part of our family characteristics are that we seek to make peace in our community and our church.

Point 3:

A Kingdom Citizen has a new interaction with the people of the world around them.

We now move to blessings that are categorized as results or expectations of living as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Read verses 10-12

Verse 10 acts as this inclusio  that reuses the statement for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. But clearly — Jesus is stating that there will be persecution for those who are citizens of His Kingdom. Though there may be pain and sorrow on this earth related to being faithful followers of Christ, we can look to the promise that our ultimate blessing, where we will flourish is in the Kingdom of heaven. Remember this is not just a taking of perceived rights, but it is a persecution due to the one thing we are seeking — the Righteousness of God.

There is so much debate on how we are to count the beatitudes. This last beatitude, changes the wording to “you” as in the 2nd person plural specifying a certain group. But there has been other biblical language that supports this as an emphasis that Jesus is making —

In the Proverbs, we hear: 

there are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him[7]

We Christians have enjoyed much favor as a part of this kingdom on earth, but there may be a time when real and felt persecution, reviling, uttering of all kinds of evil against the followers of Christ will be a reality — a reality that many people the world over through centuries have felt elsewhere and still feel today. But, what is our response according to our Lord and Savior?

Verse 12 again—

Pretty self-explanatory. May we boldly rejoice no matter the great opposition we face here on this earth. For our reward is to be completely flourishing, in God’s place, with God’s people, under God’s rule for eternity.

Point 4:

A Kingdom Citizen rejoices in the midst of opposition.

So how do we live in light of these beatitudes — how are we to BE them?

Take away – 1

We must take seriously our great depravity.

Take away – 2

We must be satisfied by more of Christ rather than things of the world.

Take away – 3

We must have a genuine desire for fellow humanity to flourish.

Take away – 4

We must not fear persecution for proclaiming the Gospel.

This is how we move from one in the crowd to a disciple. Being convicted of our sinful state — recognizing our need for a Savior. That Savior has come — Jesus — His perfect life, sacrificial death in our place and victory over sin and death with His resurrection. Trust thatHe lived died and rose on your behalf to grant you peace with God. And now with the Spirit’s help live a transformed life.

That is the Gospel we will proclaim boldly in the face of any persecution — You’re not ok — but God made a way through Jesus — and one day we will live forever in that Kingdom — the one that will never pass away.



1 Jonathan T. Pennington, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing (Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2017)

2 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI : W.B. Eerdmans, 1976), 18

3 Jonathan T. Pennington, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing (Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2017), 138

4 John R. W. Stott and John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter-Culture, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 39

5 Romans 7:15

6 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI : W.B. Eerdmans, 1976), 58

7 Proverbs 6:16