Summary: A BIG QUESTION - Does happiness really exist? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus explained that happiness does indeed exist. He even went so far as to clearly show us where it is to be found...And how to get there.
He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
"Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
"Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
"Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
"Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
"Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
"Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets." Luke 6:17-26 (NRSVA)
As Jesus looked out over the crowd on the hillside he saw in the faces of, perhaps thousands, the expectant hope of one individual and corporate need; every one of them wanted happiness. No matter whom – every man, woman and child was after happiness in one form or another.
• The affluent were craving some kind of fulfillment their money couldn’t buy; the poor were looking to get rich.
• The blind wondered why they couldn’t see; the sighted were unhappy with all their eyes could see.
• The old longed for the days when young bones didn’t ache so much, and the young were fighting the "system" they figured was designed and run by the old.
Every age and arena of life has its dissatisfactions. The preacher of Ecclesiastes had nailed it: "All is vanity."
And are we really any different today? Some roles have switched....The old now fight the "system" (especially in America where we idolize youth); the affluent begrudge the welfare mother who just can’t seem to make it on $200 a week. Women demand a larger share of the power.
ALL IN THE NAME OF…
"GETTING MY SHARE OF HAPPINESS"
And in answer to the crowd’s expectant looks Jesus said, Blessed are you poor, the Kingdom of Heaven is yours. It is reported that Abraham Lincoln was seen carrying two of his young sons down the sidewalk. They were hollering at the top of their decibel-producing capacity. A friend saw Abe and asked why all the fuss? What’s the matter? Lincoln hollered back across the street, What’s the matter with the whole world... I’ve got three walnuts, and two boys here.
We seem to push from day to day, event to event, seeking just the right experience, a new way, a better balance....And, just over that hilltop there will be Oz, and we’ll live happily ever after! Only it doesn’t work that way, does it? With all our searching, striving, planning and diligence, the yellow-brick road just goes on and on; it is the treadmill to nowhere.
A BIG QUESTION
Does happiness really exist?
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus explained that happiness does indeed exist. He even went so far as to clearly show us where it is to be found...And how to get there.
Who is better qualified than Jesus to draw this map? Jesus was entirely a happy (blessed) person. Remember how the children surrounded Jesus, and the crowds that flocked to Him? Do you recall the parties and weddings? Jesus always seemed to be in the center of things. People don’t flock to people who only want to talk about their recent operations. "Woe, despair and agony on me" makes a funny song because it is somewhat of a relief to hear someone else has more problems than you do. Jesus wasn’t like that.
Our text says that the way to be blessed or happy is through poverty (a word never too high on my hit parade). We need to understand these words (blessed and poor) better:
Blessed...is a special word of joy. It describes a happiness that is enjoyed by content people. The Greeks had a revered place in the language for this word. The island of Cyprus is called makaria, which is the feminine usage of the word Jesus used to say blessed. It means "the happy island". The Greeks see this fertile, lovely, garden-like paradise as a place where no man ever needs to look further to find happiness. Blessed could be described by saying, "Oh the sheer joy..."