Speeches of Jesus, part 1: The Beatitudes “pep talk”

Jesus spoke like a leader. His words carried power, they inspired and motivated people.

Because that’s what real leaders do, right?

Remember the movie “Miracle,” based on the USA Hockey team fighting in the 1980 Olympics? No one thought the team would beat the USSR, but it did, and part of that was because of the inspiring half-time speech given by Coach Herb Brooks. He lit a fire under them, and they skated into sports history.

Great leaders give great speeches. Not just flowery speeches, but speeches that leave you with the passion and desire to do something.

Jesus was that kind of leader. When Jesus addressed the crowds, his disciples and his apostles, he created a thirst for more, a desire to be like Jesus. But Jesus used a different type of speech to motivate his people.

In the movie, Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) told his team:

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.

And that’s what you have here tonight, boys.

That’s what you’ve earned here, tonight.

One game.

Tonight, we stay with ’em, and we shut them down because we can! Tonight, we re the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players — everyone of ya. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time — is done. It’s over.

I’m sick and tired of hearin’ about what aa great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw ’em! This is your time!!

Now go out there and take it!”

That was a pep talk. And while we don’t usually think about Jesus giving pep talks in the locker room, he accomplished what pep talks do.

For the next three weeks, we’ll look at the speeches Jesus gave, and unpack them, looking at the motivation and inspiration contained within.

This week, let’s look at the talk most consider to be the mightiest: the Sermon on the Mount:

When Jesus spoke, he didn’t call out the mighty or the rich and powerful. Jesus always looked at those who were lacking. He brought strength to the powerless.

Let’s unpack The Beatitudes verse by verse:

From Matthew, Chapter 5:

1“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Many biblical scholars interpret this to be a spiritual poverty, while others acknowledge that physical poverty can have significant spiritual ramifications.

“Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.”

Scripture tells us that in our weakness, our Lord is strong.

“Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.”

Humility is a major thing for Jesus! We see it in many of the parables he gave, and we’ll focus on that next week.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.”

Righteousness is an attribute of God. Christianity.com describes righteousness for both man and God, the difference being that “God is the ultimate Lawgiver.” Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that alone, man never can achieve righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 tells us: All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind, our sins sweep us away.” We need to be “filled” with God’s righteousness in order for our hunger and thirst to be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.”

While self-explanatory, showing mercy is a Jesus thing. Jesus encouraged showing mercy all the way to Calvary, to his misplaced apostles, to his punishers, to the thieves on the cross.

“Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.”

The pure in heart are the honest, the equitable and those who walk in integrity. These  same people have God shining in their hearts, and find joy and satisfaction in him.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.”

Jesus was a pacifist, but he knew when to fight (for example, the overturning of the moneychangers’ tables at the temple.) Still, Jesus taught peace, always peace and love and understanding between people of all races, status and even gender.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Like the fourth beatitude, righteousness comes from God, and can be persecuted by man. But this persecution is ultimately rewarded in heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The prophets, the apostles, and everyone close to Jesus or spreading his message paid a cost, but while great is that cost, great is that reward.

Wow, how is that a pep talk? It’s more of a downer, right? Jesus knew that faith and strength on the inside was more important than outer appearances. More important than outer comforts.

Jesus told people to look inward. To go inside, where the most important gifts lie. And many people not only “got” what he was saying. They felt it. They were shook. To the core.

I’d say this was a pretty amazing pep talk.

Next week we’ll look at the parables Jesus gave, and, and see what we can learn from these story-filled pep talks.

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