Last week, I invited you to join me in reading and re-reading the Beatitudes from Matthew 5. I’ve continued to read them and put them to memory. These words of Jesus are powerful and served as the introduction to His most-known sermon ever spoken.
What is a Beatitude?
The word comes from Latin and means “blessed”. More specifically, a beatitude is a word attached to a conditional statement that leads to being blessed.
What does it mean to be blessed?
The Greek word for blessed is “makarios”. It was used by the ancient Greeks to refer to their gods, “the blessed ones.” Their gods didn’t have to worry about the things that troubled humans. Greek gods didn’t have to work, they didn’t have to be concerned about sickness or death, or about having their needs met. Without any of these to bother them, they were “blessed ones”.
For the common Greek, “makarios” (to be a blessed one) could only come at death, when once and for all, there were no reasons to worry about anything anymore. Death was final freedom from all difficulties.
But when Jesus spoke beatitudes, the “blessed ones” He was describing were not common people, weary of life - welcoming death. They were “blessed ones” whose lives exhibited specific God-inspired qualities. What a difference!
Truly, Jesus showed up and turned everything upside down.
What amazes me most is the way Jesus took what would be considered a curse and made it a blessing. The people who listened to Jesus that day were poor. They lived under the unbending rule of Rome. They were deep in earthly struggles and would have done anything to be free of them. When Jesus told them that it’s blessed to mourn or blessed to be meek, the people would have been astonished. They were filled with mourning. Their meekness was thick. How and why was that “blessed”?
The people were eagerly waiting for the promised Messiah to rescue them from their struggles. Jesus showed up and told them they were blessed in their struggles. Is this the message you imagine they wanted to hear?
Reading this hundreds of years later almost chokes me up. What Jesus accomplished on the cross brought validity to the Beatitudes. Jesus defeated the enemy - the worst enemy of all - death.
Now we are His messengers sharing this Great News. Jesus defeated the enemy and wants all people to enjoy peace! He defeated the enemy and wants all of us to experience freedom! He defeated the enemy and wants to be the chosen King of our lives!
Grace & Peace!