Summary: An introduction to a 9 part series on the Beatitudes and what Jesus is calling us to become.
The Beattitudes - Introduction
September 28, 2008
I would like to do an informal survey. I have one very simple question . . . Who would like to be blessed by God today?
That’s it . . . simple isn’t it? Okay, if you want to be blessed by God, then I need you to raise your hands! Most of you raised your hands, and I can only assume some of you don’t want to be blessed by God, or you know me well enough and you know I have something up my sleeve.
So, if you want to be blessed, what does it even mean to be blessed? After all, when someone sneezes we bless them. In fact, we kinda feel guilty if we don’t say “Bless you” or even “God bless you.” Sometimes after a conversation with another Christian we may say “God bless you.” How about when we eat a meal . . . we ask God to bless this food into our bodies. But how reasonable is it to ask God to bless that oil soaked delicious looking pepperoni pizza into our bodies. I mean, is God going to take out all of the fat and salt and replace it with great hardworking vitamins? Just because we’ve asked Him to bless the food. What about the quick prayer after we’ve ordered that Big Mac, fries and coke? Is God going to take that 75% fat content and reduce it to nothing? Okay, you know where I’m going on this one.
Then we proclaim to others, “God has really blessed me.” And we mean it, and I’m not being sarcastic about that. But what does it mean to say God has blessed me. Are we simply saying, “As of this moment in time, I am living comfortably.” Or maybe after enduring some hardships, we say it knowing we have not suffered as much as others have, so we somehow sense, in some strange way we think or feel, God has blessed us. But does that mean the person who is suffering is not being blessed by God? It seems to me that a really clear understanding of what it means to be blessed by God, seems to get away from us.
So, what does it mean to be blessed? Well, God gives us some ideas, and in all honesty it is not the manner in which we normally seek blessings. For the next 8 weeks, we are going to look at what it means to be blessed by God in very specific terms. We are going to look at the very beginning of the first major sermon Jesus gives. Some have said that this sermon, called the Sermon on the Mount, is kind of like Jesus’ platform speech. If you were watching the presidential conventions last month, it was like Jesus coming up to the platform and giving one of the most amazing messages ever. The first part of His message is called “The Beatitudes.”
The word beatitude comes from the word BEATIFY which means to have supreme blessedness. So, let’s look at the beatitudes, at what Jesus said, and as we do so, I want us to read the scripture together. We are going to read Matthew 5:1-12.
1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat
down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
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
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 sons 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. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Now, think about what Jesus is saying here. Who are the blessed?
The poor in spirit the merciful
those who mourn The pure in heart
the meek The peacemakers
the hungry and thirsty the persecuted because of Christ.
When this happens to you, what does Jesus say you are to do? “Rejoice and be glad.” Anyone want to say a collective “uh-oh!” That’s not our idea of being blessed . . . is it?
Lots of people have translated the Beatitudes to be what Pastor Robert Schuller called in the title of his book The Be-Happy Attitudes. We seem to transfer the word happy, for the word blessed. We need to understand that the word happy comes from the word HAP, which is a Middle English word from around the 1400’s which means luck. It’s where we get the word happenstance. In other words, happiness is dependent upon circumstances and luck and with a roll of the dice. However, the Beatitudes are in no way a roll of the dice or chancy. There is no sense of uncertainty to them. When Jesus said, “Blessed are they . . .” there were no qualifying phrases, like “In most situations, blessed are they . . . or Given the right conditions, blessed are they . . . or if you are over 55 blessed are you . . .”