The Gospel of Matthew records five main teaching discourses from Jesus. Matthew 5-7 is Jesus' call to righteousness, which is about doing the will of God. Jesus is teaching his disciples and the multitudes from the mountain. Jesus begins with what is commonly called The Beatitudes which are the blessings of God (Matt.5:1-12). The Latin word for "blessed" isbeati.
I love Eugene Peterson's take on this:
- You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
- You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
- You're blessed when you're content with just who you are– no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
- You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
- You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'carefull,' you find yourselves cared for.
- You're blessed when you get your inside world– your mind and heart– put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
- You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
- You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. Not only that– count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens– give a cheer, even!– for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. Matthew 5:3-12. Message Bible
In pronouncing these blessings, Jesus is not saying "try hard to live like this." He is saying that people who already are like this are in good shape. They should be happy and celebrate because of the work that Jesus is now doing.
These are not timeless truths about how the world is. Mourners often go un-comforted, the meek don't always inherit the earth, and those who long for justice often find it eludes them in this life. This is an upside-down world. But Jesus is bringing good news with the proclamation of his kingdom. No matter what our condition, God is on the move. A new covenant is about to be put in place. New promises are being made. God's kingdom is near. We can enter it and live under it's rule right here, right now. That's good news.
Wise words worth reflecting on.