Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

 Sermon Text: Matthew 5:1-12

 Other Readings: Zephaniah 2:3, 3:11-13 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-31


The upper arrow is a proposed location, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, for Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” which begins with the Beatitudes. (Source: EHV Study Bible)


  1. The Beatitudes are bookended by Jesus mentioning the “kingdom of heaven” (vv. 3,10). What is a good way of defining what the kingdom of heaven is? (Confer John 18:36-38.)
  2. Our culture uses the word blessed differently than Jesus does here. Contrast the way our culture thinks of what it means to be blessed with what Jesus says it means to be blessed.
  3. We Lutherans stress over and over again (as Scripture does) that our forgiveness and salvation are not because we have done anything. We don’t deserve it. So, what does Jesus mean when he says that believers have a “great reward” waiting for them in heaven?
  4. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists attitudes a believer should have within and attitudes that believers should do. What is an attitude or action that you find yourself struggling with? How can 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 help lead you towards those things? Then write a prayer asking for God’s help.
  5. We mourn how we are unable to do the Beatitudes perfectly, but we are comforted to see how Jesus embodied them for us and how he “has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Pick one of the Beatitudes and think of a time when Jesus perfectly displayed it for you.


  1. The kingdom of heaven is a spiritual activity. It is how God reigns in the hearts of believers (“disciples” as in Matthew 5:1) and how God brings the blessings of his kingdom into the lives of his believers. Think of the way Martin Luther explained the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, that God would give us his Holy Spirit so that we believe God’s word and lead godly lives according to it.
  2. Our culture generally uses the word “blessed” to refer to fortunate things that happen to them in a physical or earthly way. Our culture also almost always overlooks God’s role in such things. Jesus, on the other hand, stresses internal and spiritual blessings and relates them to God. Jesus also teaches that while we have spiritual blessings in this life, we do not have them fully yet. For instance, our full comfort will come at the resurrection of the dead.
  3. Jesus is using the word metaphorically here. It cannot be a reward in its literal or normal sense because, as one commentator put it, “all our good works are at best a repayment of a few paltry installments of a previous debt.” Therefore, we can look at it as a reward not of merit but of grace. In his undeserved love, God has made himself a debtor to us, not because he has to, but because he promises that he wants to be.
  4. Answers will vary, but when we are struggling with weakness, it’s generally because we’re getting too prideful. 1 Corinthians chapter 1 helps us think not to highly of ourselves and appreciate God’s mercy and grace. That moves us to be godly towards others.
  5. Answers are many and will vary but rest easy tonight knowing that Jesus did all these things for you and gives you credit for them through faith in him!