Read February 18-24 lesson here.
Focus: Matthew 5
The word “beatitude” is derived from the Latin word beatus, meaning “to be fortunate, to be blessed, to be happy.”
The Lord told Moses to teach the people the importance of honoring the Sabbath and doing so would be a sign of their faithfulness to Him. (see Exodus 31:12–17).
The scribes and Pharisees became meticulous about their observance of the law. “During these centuries, many uninspired religious leaders placed many restrictions on what a person could do on the Sabbath. For example, they taught that a fire could not be started or put out on the Sabbath. A person could untie a knot only if it could be done with one hand. One mile was the limit anyone could walk. Broken bones could not be reset until after the Sabbath. It became so difficult for the people to obey all the rules that they forgot the true purpose of the Sabbath day. Rather than being a blessing and a joy, the Sabbath became a burden.” (Find quote here.)
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:20
The scribes and Pharisees became immensely concerned with their outward display of their observance of the law. The new and higher law established by the Savior would no longer be written on stone, but in their hearts, as foreseen in the Book of Jeremiah. True discipleship of the Lord is an internal commitment.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:Jeremiah 31:31-33
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
“Human expression cannot fully capture the meaning and significance of the Sermon on the Mount. A great and profound discourse, the Sermon on the Mount reflects truth as a multifaceted diamond reflects light. It signals the inauguration of a new dispensation of the gospel. It provides a window into the Savior’s own personality and character and summarizes the essence of Christlike behavior. It describes the characteristics of those who will inhabit the celestial kingdom. It compares the old law with the new.” (Verse by Verse, The Four Gospels by D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner, pg. 170-171)
Now what about this “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” commandment?
“Has it occurred to you as you read this sermon, that Jesus is actually describing the qualities of an exalted person? With this in mind, the Beatitudes become steps of perfection…” (Find this quote on page 60 here).
“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel – you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:306-7
“The Beatitudes are directed to the duties of mortal life as a preparation for a greater existence yet future. In the kingdom of heaven, twice named in this part of the Lord’s discourse, are true riches and unfailing happiness to be found. The kingdom of heaven was the all-comprising text of this wonderful sermon; the means of reaching the kingdom and glories of eternal citizenship therein are the main divisions of the treatise.” Jesus The Christ, by James E. Talmage.
Give yourself a break for being an imperfect human. Being perfect is not something that will be attained in this life. But what an incredible gift it is to know that we can become as perfect as our Father in the eternities and radiate every phenomenal quality mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount. It is almost impossible to comprehend that in these verses the Savior could be describing a future YOU.