The Beatitudes begin the discourse known as The Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew. Jesus’ teachings were groundbreaking and shook the foundations of religious establishment. The beatitudes spoke to people who were struggling, living in poverty under a tyrannical government and a religious system that catered to ritual in order to honor God, but had left God out of the equation. Jesus told them that even in those positions they were to be envied and considered fortunate and that they could be happy.
That was not the common view then, and it is not the popular opinion now. Let’s read them and you will see that it doesn’t seem a happy or good thing to be in any of the situations Jesus says are advantageous. Matthew 5:1-12 reads,
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
This is an example of the difference between the world and the Kingdom of God. It is very different in the Kingdom of God, those outside consider us foolish, crazy, and even evil. But they don’t understand, and cannot understand until they have the Holy Spirit to help them.
How is it good to be poor in spirit, mourn, or meek? Those qualities are not desired by the world. In fact they are disdained. These traits are only possible with the Holy Spirit as He conforms to the image of Christ. It is not an easy task to want righteousness so badly that it is akin to deep hunger and desperate thirst, a need. Being merciful is, for me something I have to work hard for. Being pure in heart in a foul and sinful world is a struggle analogous to climbing a mountain. Being a peacemaker means that somehow in the middle of strife, turmoil, and conflict that one cannot only maintain his peace but bring it to others. Being persecuted for righteousness? Well we all know that is no fun.
But Jesus says these are all reasons to be happy! He says these are good things and we are blessed even to be envied for those qualities.
Join me over the next week and half or so as we study each of these reasons to be glad. Believer, remember Jesus words, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”
Greek, 3701. makarios. (n.d.). Retrieved from Strong's Concordance: http://biblehub.com/greek/3107.htm