January 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
The Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12 – the collection of Jesus’ teachings that introduce His Sermon on the Mount – are more than just moral rules to live by. The key refrain that runs through them is blessedness. These Jesus sayings are first of all a radical Kingdom perspective on life. It starts with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:3) and it ends with “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:10) These two beatitudes represent the bookends for the rest of them, indicating that the kingdom of heaven is the controlling perspective of the entire section. Therefore, these sayings describe the blessed life of those who possess the kingdom of heaven. Blessedness does not refer to either “holiness” in some spiritual sense or “happiness” in the sense of a good mood. Rather, it refers to a fortunate state of life. That is exactly what make these sayings so ironic and so radical, because they refer to circumstances that seem so desperately “unfortunate”: those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who are meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are persecuted. They represent Jesus’ promise to all of us who find ourselves in unfortunate circumstances, and not only as a future reality but as a perspective that transform the way we live our sometimes “unfortunate” lives today.