Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:1-12
I have two cats by marriage. One of them, completely unaware (or uncaring) that I’m not a cat person, is my shadow when I’m home. She curls up at my feet while I read and write to you every morning.
Spring has sprung here in Tennessee and my allergies are wreaking havoc on my sinuses. Every time I sneeze the cat lifts her head from my foot and meows in my direction as if she’s blessing me, and it’s almost cute enough to make me like cats. Almost.
Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount with eight short blessings that are nothing like the kind we speak over the sneezy. When my cat blesses me she’s wishing me well. That’s how most of us intend our blessings: a wish, a hope, a prayer for some kind of help or good to come.
But the blessings of Jesus in Matthew 5:1-13 are celebrations of what has already come! They’re announcements that good gifts have already been given – some have already been unwrapped and enjoyed and others soon will be.
The recipients of these gifts are called “blessed.” It’s the Greek word makarios that was used to describe the island of Cyprus long ago. The weather there was temperate. Flowers bloomed and fruit trees flourished in its fertile soil. Clean water flowed from naturally filtered springs. It was said that the gods vacationed on Cyprus and that a person could live out their entire life there without ever having to leave its shores for anything they needed.
To be blessed is to be satisfied and content because we have everything we need. But it’s not an island paradise that meets the needs of the blessed in Matthew 5. It’s God.
Jesus was a Jewish rabbi teaching in Aramaic (a form of Hebrew). He would have used some version of the word asir (blessed), which is an adjective describing a person who is happy because God has taken such good care of them. God has heard their cries, seen their needs, and personally provided for them.
God heard the cries of the world, saw the depth and breadth of need, and sent Jesus to provide. Because Jesus had arrived on earth, there were so many who had so much to be happy about!
• The humble ones who realize their need for God and trust God fully are happy now because they are already living in my kingdom! (Matthew 5:3)
• The ones whose hearts break over sin and its consequences in the world are happy now because God’s comfort and healing is on the way! (Matthew 5:4)
• The ones who humbly yield to God’s control and fully depend on God are happy now because God will meet their needs! (Matthew 5:5)
• The ones who want justice (God’s way on earth) as desperately as the starving crave food and the thirsty pant for water are happy now because it’s arriving! (Matthew 5:6)
• The ones who feel the suffering of others and meet their needs are happy now because God is doing the same for them! (Matthew 5:7)
• The ones who seek first and only the kingdom of God, who want only this one thing, are happy now because they are about to see it come! (Matthew 5:8)
• The ones who fix what is broken in the world and mend relationships are happy now because they are working alongside God on the same project! (Matthew 5:9)
• The ones who’ve done nothing wrong, but are hated anyway because of the ways faithfully obey God, are happy now because they are already living in my kingdom! (Matthew 5:10-12)
•Who or what is determining my happiness today?
•Spend a few minutes making a list of things God has already provided for you this week.
Provider God, thank you for hearing our cries and seeing our needs. Thank you for personally saving and satisfying us…again and again.
We have sailed beyond your shores in search of a better happiness, but today we are coming home to you.