“Upside-down blessings”


 

“Upside-down blessings”
Matthew 5:3-11

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.”
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.”
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.”
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.”
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.”
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

    Perhaps the most famous use of the word “blessed” is found in the Sermon on the Mount. Right at the start of the sermon, we learn that Jesus went and sat down. Was the equivalent of walking up to the pulpit all “mic-ed” up. Expectations were high, everyone was hanging on his every word,,, and the key note speech begins… “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”…“Blessed are those who mourn…Wait … What?”

    Billy Graham wrote a book about this and called them “The Be-attitudes”. It may be a good way to remember them, but what this is not is a list of people whom God blesses. What they are is “good news” in fact, they were and are wonderful news! Jesus comes announcing that the worlds values have been turned upside down! With His coming things have changed. “The first shall be last” (Matthew 20:16); “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.” (Matthew 20:26) Does Jesus not understand that to attract followers and boost numbers, you need star status? Surely the wealthy are blessed! The beautiful are blessed! The powerful are blessed! Not so, says Jesus.

    New Testament scholars point out that the beatitudes consist of two groups. The first four describe not personal qualities but oppressive situations of distress that are “blessed” because they will be reversed in God’s Kingdom. When Jesus says they are blessed, he is not saying that they should put on a smile and whistle a tune. He is saying that God cares deeply for them and they should find comfort and hope in that fact. While some may not know what it is to know poverty, we can all relate to what it means to have a depressed spirit because of certain circumstances at times. We all know what it is to mourn, or what it is like to feel meek or incompetent. He was refuting the popular notion that those who suffer in some way are being punished by God, and those who were living the “good” life were being blessed. That just is not true.

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