The Beatitudes — A Metaphorical Map for Finding Jesus

Dr. Jamie Schwandt
15 min readOct 10, 2023

You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you. John 15:16

Before we begin, let us pray.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

You may have noticed I ended the Lord’s Prayer with, “but deliver us from the evil one” and not, “but deliver us from evil.” This difference may seem insignificant, but it has sparked debates among Christians about the correct version. Some argue that “evil” refers to a general concept of wrongdoing, while “the evil one” refers specifically to Satan.

Regardless of which version you prefer, both convey the same message — asking God for protection and deliverance from any form of evil or temptation. It is also worth noting that the addition of “the evil one” can be interpreted as a reminder of the spiritual battle between good and evil, where Satan is seen as the ultimate adversary.

The Beatitudes — A Map

If Christ is not risen, then our faith is useless. 1 Cor 15:14

The Beatitudes, or blessed sayings, are a map or directions to find Jesus. A great example of this can be found in the series — The Chosen.

Why do we need a map?

Because of itching ears and false teachers.

For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4: 3–4

For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Matthew 24: 24

Let’s look at the Beatitudes using The Holy Bible — The Douay Version, Matthew 5: 1–12 (Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. The Eight Beatitudes).

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him. And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying:

1) Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“And to some who trusted in themselves as just and despised others, he spoke also this parable: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican standing afar off would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner. I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other; because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

The passage above shows us that it is not our own righteousness or good works that bring us closer to God, but rather acknowledging our own brokenness and need for His mercy. In the passage, one man mentions how he is not like sinners, while the other humbles himself, acknowledging he is a sinner.

We must come before God with a humble and contrite heart, recognizing that we are nothing without Him. This is what it means to be “poor in spirit” — to have a true understanding of our spiritual poverty and deep longing for God’s grace.

Think of Matthew, one of the lucky twelve walking with Jesus. He is made aware of his own nothingness before our Lord’s greatness and saw many evidences of God’s immense grace. We should pray that the Lord will make us so poor in spirit that we acknowledge our own nothingness before God on a moment-by-moment basis.

Metaphor: Barren Land

We can imagine the poor in spirit as a barren land, ready to receive the seeds of God’s love and grace. Just as a farmer must prepare their soil and make it fertile for crops to grow, we must also humble ourselves and recognize our need for God’s presence in order to bear fruit in our spiritual lives.

This metaphor also highlights the importance of being open and receptive to God’s teachings and wisdom. Just as a farmer must be attentive to the needs of their land, we must also actively seek out and listen to the guidance and teachings of Jesus to grow closer to Him.

Ultimately, being poor in spirit means recognizing our own limitations and relying fully on God for strength, guidance, and salvation. It is only with this humble attitude that we can truly enter into the kingdom of heaven and experience the fullness of God’s love and grace. So let us strive to be like Matthew, humble in spirit and open to receiving God’s blessings each and every day.

This is like the of the growing seed found in Mark 4: 26–32

And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth. And should sleep, and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up whilst he knoweth not. For the earth of itself bringeth forth fruit, first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the ear. And when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or to what parable shall we compare it? It is as a grain of mustard seed: which when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that are in the earth. And when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches, so that the birds of the air may dwell under the shadow thereof.

2) Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

It is better to be humbled with the meek, than to divide spoils with the proud. Proverbs 16:19

The word “meek” in this context does not mean weak or timid, but rather it refers to someone who is humble and gentle in spirit. In the Bible, meekness is seen as a virtue and is praised by God.

Jesus himself exemplified meekness during his time on earth. Despite being the Son of God, he humbled himself and served others, even washing his disciples’ feet. He also remained gentle and patient in the face of persecution and suffering.

Metaphor: Mustard Seed

Just like the mustard seed, meekness may seem small and insignificant, but it has the potential to grow and flourish into something great. Meekness allows us to be open and receptive to God’s blessings, just as the mustard seed is open to receiving nourishment from the soil.

Being meek also means being willing to surrender our own will to God’s will. As we let go of our pride and submit to God, we can possess the land he promised us — an inheritance in his eternal kingdom.

When we are meek, we can possess the land in a spiritual sense. This means that we are able to inherit the blessings and promises of God’s kingdom. We also have a peaceful and content heart, knowing that our true home is not on this earth, but in heaven.

Being meek is also demonstrating courage — courage to teach the true Word of God and courage to confront those who either blaspheme God or present false teachings. Meekness is the quality of correcting, not judging. After all, who are we to judge the divine plan? When we judge someone, for which we do not have the authority to do, we are judging God. God has predetermined everything, so judging something judges God’s plan.

3) Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Our mourning can be for various reasons — the loss of a loved one, failure, disappointment, or suffering. But in this beatitude, Jesus is reminding us that our mourning will not last forever.

The promise of comfort comes from God himself. He knows our pain and sorrows and promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes. In his kingdom, there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or sorrow because all of these things are temporary in this earthly life. In his eternal kingdom, there will only be joy and peace.

Furthermore, we can also find comfort in knowing that God is with us in our times of mourning. He is our ever-present help and will never leave us nor forsake us. Through prayer, we can find solace in his loving arms and know that he carries us through our pain.

But this beatitude also teaches us to mourn for the suffering of others. As followers of Christ, we are called to have a heart of compassion and empathy towards those who are hurting. We must mourn with them, pray for them, and do what we can to bring comfort and healing into their lives.

It is like a seed that is planted in the ground. The seed goes through a period of darkness and mourning, but eventually, it sprouts into a beautiful flower or tree. In the same way, our periods of mourning can lead to growth and transformation in our lives.

Metaphor: Sprouting Flower

4) Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for justice: for they shall have their fill.

I Love You God! — Jack Maverick Schwandt (my 4-year-old son)

This beatitude is a call to action for us as believers. It reminds us to actively seek justice and righteousness in our lives and in the world around us.

But what does it mean to hunger and thirst for justice? It means having a deep longing and desire for things to be made right in a broken world.

Righteousness is not just following a set of rules or laws, but it is living in alignment with God’s will and ways. As we hunger and thirst for justice, we are also striving to live righteous lives that bring glory to God.

This beatitude also reminds us that our longing for justice will be satisfied by God. When we seek righteousness, he promises to fill us and satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls.

One possible metaphor is a river that flows into the sea. The river represents our hunger and thirst for justice, constantly seeking to flow towards God’s will. And the sea represents God’s endless supply of righteousness, fulfilling our deepest longings.

Metaphor: River Flowing into the Sea (or an Estuary)

5) Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

God Shines! — Ella Katherine Schwandt (my 8-year-old daughter)

What did Jesus mean when he said blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy? This beatitude reminds us of the importance of showing mercy to others. Just as we have received mercy from God, we are called to extend that same mercy to those around us.

Mercy is not just feeling sorry for someone or having pity on them, but it is actively showing compassion and kindness towards those who are in need or have wronged us. It is choosing to forgive and show love instead of seeking revenge.

In this beatitude, Jesus promises that those who show mercy will also receive mercy. This doesn’t mean that we earn or deserve God’s mercy through our actions, but rather it reflects the heart of God towards those who extend compassion and forgiveness towards others.

Just as a mirror reflects our own image back to us, when we show mercy towards others, it reflects God’s mercy back to us. And just like how a dirty or broken mirror cannot reflect accurately when we fail to show mercy, we hinder ourselves from receiving God’s mercy.

Metaphor: Mirror

Grace & Mercy

Before we examine anything spiritually, it is important to understand grace and mercy.

Grace and mercy are two important concepts in Christianity that are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings. According to the Bible, grace is unmerited favor from God — it is a gift that we do not deserve but receive freely through faith in Jesus Christ. This grace allows us to be forgiven of our sins and reconciled with God. The Beatitudes are an unmerited favor for finding God.

On the other hand, mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown to someone who has wronged us. In Christianity, God shows us mercy by forgiving our sins when we repent and ask for forgiveness. You can find God’s mercy for us in the Beatitudes, which serve as a road map for grace and mercy.

Grace is something we do not deserve, but God blesses us with. Mercy is something we deserve, but God spares us from.

Both grace and mercy are essential parts of the Christian faith. As Jesus said in Matthew 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Just as Jesus showed us mercy by sacrificing himself on the cross for our sins, we are called to show mercy to others.

So why is it important to understand the difference between grace and mercy? Because it helps us understand the depth of God’s love for us.

6) Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

Mary is Queen Mother of Him who “shall reign in the house of Jacob forever.” Luke 1:32

To be clean of heart, or pure, means to draw the living water of Jesus Christ. David asked the Lord for a clean heart in Psalms 51:10 — Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Think of the story of the woman at the well, which can be found in John 4:3–29.

Jesus answered, and said to her: Whosover drinketh of this water, shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst forever: But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting.

When we are baptized, we often forget the importance of it. It is not the act of being baptized that is important, but the importance is the font… Jesus.

Think of Mother Mary and the chalice (or vessel). From Mother Mary, the vessel (her womb) that carried God, is born our holiness, our wisdom, our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption. The Blessed Virgin, Mary, holds the title of Mediatrix; whereas Jesus, our Lord and Savior, holds the title of Mediator… the Redeemer. Mary is subordinate to Jesus and brings us closer to the Mediator, Jesus Christ. The highest heavens cannot contain God, whom Mary carried in her womb.

Metaphor: Chalice

7) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God. Hebrews 12: 14

Peace is not only the absence of conflict but also the presence of love. As followers of Christ, we are called to spread peace and unity wherever we go. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.” This means that by living a life dedicated to spreading peace and love, we are not only fulfilling God’s will but also reflecting His character and becoming more like Him.

Just as a parent is proud to see their child following in their footsteps, God too is pleased to see His children actively promoting peace in the world. As children of God, it is our responsibility to be agents of change and spread the Gospel wherever we go.

Just as a light illuminates darkness and brings clarity, peacemakers bring harmony and understanding to situations. As children of God, we are called to be a light in the world — spreading the Gospel wherever we go.

Metaphor: Light

8) Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Hear, O God, my prayer, when I make supplication to thee: deliver my soul from the fear of the enemy. Psalms 63:1

What did Jesus mean when he said blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven? Jesus is reminding us that as believers, we may face persecution for standing up for what is right and just. This could be in the form of ridicule, discrimination, or even physical harm.

But despite these challenges, we are reminded that our ultimate reward is not in this world but in the kingdom of heaven. In Mark 8:35, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the Gospel will save it.” Our reward in heaven far outweighs any persecution we may face here on earth.

Metaphor: A seed

Just as a seed must be buried and face challenging conditions before it can grow into a beautiful plant, we may face persecution and challenges for standing up for justice. But just like the seed, our faith and actions will bear fruit in the kingdom of heaven. Our suffering is not in vain, but rather it produces growth and strength in our faith. So let us take courage in knowing that even in the face of persecution, we are blessed and will inherit the kingdom of heaven. So, let us continue to spread the Gospel and live out our faith, knowing that our ultimate reward is waiting for us in the kingdom of heaven.

The Beatitudes conclude with the following:

Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.

If you are persecuted for spreading the Gospel, then rejoice. For even though you may face difficulties and opposition, your reward in heaven will be great. Just as the prophets before us were persecuted for sharing God’s message, we too may face similar challenges. But let us not lose heart, for our ultimate goal is to bring glory to God and further His kingdom.

As children of God, we must remember that our focus should not be on worldly recognition or success but rather on fulfilling God’s will and spreading His message. Let us find strength in the promise that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who endure persecution for righteousness’ sake. And let us continue to share the Gospel boldly and fearlessly, knowing that our reward in heaven is far greater than any temporary trials we may face on earth. May our lives be a testimony of faith and perseverance as we strive to live out the Beatitudes and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. If someone lives the Beatitudes, then they likely follow Jesus Christ.

Conclusion — What to say when we see God

Finally, I highly recommend everyone watch the following video. This reinforces our fear of God, which we must all have.

I don’t mean fear Him like you fear a horror movie; I mean the fear of losing your relationship and connection with Him.

I will conclude with something I say in prayer every morning.

What to say when we see God?

When I see you, Father, and you ask me why you should let me into heaven… my only response will be: Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and for the sins of the world.

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Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Dr. Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an American author, L6S master black belt, and red teamer.