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Blessed are the poor in spirit


A study of the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12, also known as the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew 5 - 7. Each Beatitude contains a topic of a major Biblical theme.


In a manner reminiscent of Moses on Mount Sinai giving the Law and establishing what we now call the Old Testament, Jesus laid out in the Sermon on the Mount a deeper and hence new revelation of God. This is the beginning of what is now the New Testament. The Sermon on the Mount is fundamental to understanding Jesus and God’s relationship to us. It is a key which helps us to understand the rest of God’s revelation, and the Beatitudes are the key to the Sermon as a whole.

Key Concepts

  • God’s way of doing life is completely different to the world
  • Each of the Beatitudes is a theme which sets out the nature of God and how we are meant to be
  • The Kingdom of God is about giving and conquering through weakness

Scripture References

Matthew 5:1-12, Beatitudes
Matthew 5-7, the full sermon on the Mount
Poor in Spirit - Isaiah 61:1 & 66:2; Luke 6:20; Matthew 11:25-30 (esp. v29 and hidden from the wise); James 2:5
Mourning - Isaiah 61:2,3; John 16:20; 2 Cor 1:7; 2 Cor 7:10; Rev 21:4; James 4:1-10 (see esp. v9,10)
Meekness - Psalm 37, especially v 11 (the contrast is between those who seek to control life and so choose any of the options the world uses to solve its problems, and those who trust in the Lord and so do good, even to those who hate them. It is self control and humility that flows from complete trust in the Lord); Romans 12:14-21
Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness - Matthew 5:48; 6:33; Ps 42:2; Isa 55:1,2; John 4:7-15; 7:37; 2 Timothy 2:22
Merciful - Matthew 18:21-35 (esp. v 33); 25:34-36; Proverbs 19:17; Luke 6:36; 2 Timothy 1:16; Hebrews 6:10
Pure in Heart - Ps 24:1-6 (esp. v 4); 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:22; Matthew 6:33; 2 Cor 4 (esp. v1-6); the example of Daniel in Babylon, e.g. Daniel 6:1-5 (also the example of Joseph in Egypt with Potiphar, in prison and then as the second in power in Egypt)
Peacemakers - James 3:13-18; Matthew 18:21-35; 1 Peter 4:8; Colossians 3:1-17 (esp. v15)
Persecuted for Righteousness - Matthew 5:13-16; 2 Tim 2:12; James 5:11; 1 Peter 3:14; Acts 4; 5:17-42; Acts 7:54-60; 14:19-23; 16:16-24 etc


https://bible.org/seriespage/beatitudes-matthew-51-12 - good easy to read summary of the main thoughts and some key points
http://www.jesuschristsavior.net/Beatitudes.html - brief notes on the beatitudes, plus some interesting information on those who were martyred for being a Christian

Newspaper/news items/article - Where issues/themes are evident

John Dixon’s Books: Sneaking Suspicion, etc. - good general resource for a teacher to have, covering many of the basic problems teens have with Christianity
Dave Andrew's book: The Beatitudes - deeper look at what the Beatitudes means for today; has a free study guide pdf to download
Wingclips - clips from movies relevant to the themes e.g.Why Big Z gave up surfing from Surf’s Up relating to pride
Youtube videos can be searched for these themes e.g.
 - This is the preview, but full movie sounds good

Ideas/Strategies for Lessons

Read the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes and discuss in detail
Movie clips and or even a movie to use a basis for discussion

Years 7-8 - Students to devise a board game, "The Amazing Attitudes Board Game" (or other name)

Year 9 - Project based learning - technology used to present information in a creative way to present "How can we really help people?" Focus on a particular group in society, e.g. homeless, lonely, abandoned, elderly, single mums

Excursions linked with churches, soup kitchens, aid organsations
Song analysis - unwrap and analyse a song in relation to the beatitudes. E.g. Simon and Garfunkel, "Blessed"; Bible ref. in U2 songs http://www.u2.com/index/home
Getting children to develop a “choose your own adventure” book. Then they swap books and discuss “What would Jesus do in each choice” – using the Beatitudes to analyse.

Look at characters like Nelson Mandela to illustrate power versus love (winning people over through non-violence)

Ask children for examples in their own life of where they have seen love/non-violence practiced. Then work backwards to look at examples in the Bible of where Jesus acted in love
Role plays to put students in scenarios and they have to discuss the options of responding
Find antonyms and synonyms for all these ideas and create either a joint Wordle or similar, or two contrasting ones
Discuss current events, using actual news articles, and discuss how the Beatitudes might relate to them e.g. the threat of militant Islam and the flood of refugees into Europe, refugees coming to Australia, bullying in schools. Students can suggest the events to the be considered