In today’s reading we are at the top of the mountain in close quarters with Jesus. We have a private audience with Jesus and the disciples before the Sermon on the Mount. As the crowds are gathering, Jesus pulls all of his close associates into a small huddle and preps them on the future possibilities of their ministry and life. He tells them how blessed their life will be following Him, but it is not the typical blessing that they would expect. I have read the Beatitudes many times in my life, but I have found a new understanding of them as I studied and write this blog. Below is the The Message form of the Beatitudes:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “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.
5 “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.
6 “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.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “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.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “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.
Last night, as I was putting my son to sleep I read these to him and he said “Dad, that really makes sense. I can see how God blesses people in all of those situations”. It really makes sense and my seven-year-old son gets it. We have the fortune to see this and live this post sermon, but could you image the impact that these words had on the people of Jesus’ time? These were people who had been treated without regard of their religion, citizenship, physical capacities, and so much more. In that society, the more powerful you appear to have the more force you have, but Christ is showing the complete opposite side of this argument. The more that you relinquish the power or pursuit of said power and submit to Christ the more you are given and more peace you are granted. In our society we can see remnants of this ideology of more force and more power makes the better person or entity. This is contrary to Jesus’ teachings. The more that we can allow God to give use Shalom (completeness), the more we are in His power and his peace.