Julie asked me a question in the comments of a post over on Brant’s blog about some words of Jesus‘ and what I think they could mean: Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. She asked me to elaborate, but since Brant’s blog isn’t my blog and elaborating would be more than a little off topic I’m answering her here. Hope you don’t mind. Here ya go, Julie…
“Blessed” in that passage I quoted comes from the Greek word makarios, and that’s the name Greeks gave an island where gods lived. It was great marketing. If a human could get to Makarios, it was believed, they would have all their needs met – they’d have no reason to go elsewhere for provision. They’d be satisfied forever. The name Makarios evolved into the verb and an adjective makarios over time and we now often translate it into our English word “bless” in the English bible.
“Blessed” in this passage is not “happy” or “joy” but complete: lacking nothing we need, provided for, content to stay where we are and not go elsewhere for more provisions. (There are other Greek words translated as “bless” in English that mean other things like happy, but not this one. Not everyone agrees on this point. I just studied the two main sides of that argument, prayed, and did all that some more and believe now the evidence is more convincing on one side than the other. But I’m not certain. I don’t think we can be.)
So, in the eight blessings of Jesus called the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), Jesus blesses the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, those who desire righteousness, those who do mercy, the pure in heart, the peace makers and the persecuted with the same contentment making provision: the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Citizens of heaven’s kingdom are all these things I just listed.
God provides them with an “island” (metaphor) called “kingdom”. Then he takes us on a tour around the island, showing us what’s there that will keep us satisfied. What exactly have we been given as citizens of heaven that makes us blessed?? Is it a big house, a car, a spouse? Is it ease? Is it a smile? Is it knowledge? Is it perfection? What?
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” ONE thing the island has that satisfies is comfort. “Comfort” here comes from a Greek word that is the root of the Greek word for Holy Spirit – or “the Comforter.” It means literally to come along side. God comes along side those who mourn (mourn over poverty of spirit). He walks with us. He meets our need for comfort in sorrow in many many ways in this life (truth, compassionate community, friends, family, Tex-Mex, roller coasters, music, moms, laughter, and the ability to receive comfort from these things, mysteriously, supernaturally). And then there’s a final comfort when this life is over too: He’ll wipe away every tear…
Does that help, Julie?