Summary: Today we enter a famous section of the Bible commonly known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This particular beginning section is known as the “beatitudes” from the Latin word for “blessed”. I think it also means beautiful attitudes.
Today we enter a famous section of the Bible commonly known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This particular beginning section is known as the “beatitudes” from the Latin word for “blessed”. I think it also means beautiful attitudes. And I am quite certain this may be the most important sermon I have ever preached.
Imagine with me Jesus walking around the Sea of Galilee with his new disciples becoming more famous by the day with all the miracles he was performing. He was preaching with such authority as had never been seen before. Massive crowds followed him. We know he fed 5000 and 3000 so the crowd here was probably at least that big, it may have even been one of those crowds that he fed.
He sees these crowds and makes his way partially up a mountainside so everyone could see and hear him. People settle in around him with great hope and anticipation, their ears standing up, and then he opens his mouth and the first word that comes out is “blessed”.
Now many have translated the word blessed into happy, and though it is somewhat accurate, it’s much more than that. To these readers it was a state of divine joy and perfect happiness that only the gods could experience. It implied an inner satisfaction and sufficiency that didn’t depend on outward circumstances, but was a godlike state that could never be moved by life’s happenings. Being completely in God’s favour.
So I imagine him saying it like this with a big pause…..
In hypnosis this is a very common technique for getting people’s undivided attention and bypassing their rational mind. Jesus was a master communicator and he must have had people wondering, what on earth is this guy saying? And that’s when you can really get past their defences.
And we’ll get there later, but notice after these beatitudes he gives them hypnotic suggestions, “you are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world”. Isn’t that cool? He get’s their minds all confused, anticipating and focussed, then in essence tells them to cluck like chickens. Well that’s what the stage hypnotist would do, but Jesus suggestions here are much more useful.
It would be like me coming up to the pulpit one day and starting, “This is the guaranteed secret to being filthy rich, sell everything you have, quit your job, leave your family and go live on top of a mountain. You are like a pizza with no pepperoni.”
You see he also uses metaphors which are another great way of getting past the conscious mind. You are like salt, you are a city on a hill, you are a lamp under a bowl. Instantly we are using more than our ears, we are accessing our sense of smell, sight, and even taste to visualize and fully experience what he is saying.
I could say something really hurt, or I could say it hurt like getting your armpits waxed. Which gives you a better picture, which makes you experience what I’m saying?
Alright, enough about his masterful communication techniques, lets get to these blessings.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Let’s stop right there for a second. Notice he says blessed are for all these beatitudes. Not blessed will be, or if you do these things you will be blessed, but blessed “are”. This is important because Greek verbs have very specific meanings.
This is not a declaration of how they feel, but of their state in the present and continuing on. John Stott says it well when he clarifies, “The beatitudes are not an indication of their feelings, but a declaration of God’s assessment of them”. Favoured by God. In God’s good books, being bestowed with this state of blessedness.
This also means all Christians are to be like this. These are not just descriptions of exceptional Christians. Christians are Christians and God shows no favouritism. This is how he expects to see all those who say they are Christians.
These are also not spiritual gifts, some having some of them, some having others. No, all Christians are to manifest all of these characteristics. You can’t pick and choose, and you can’t say, “Well that’s not my gifting.” God is saying this is what all Christians are meant to be. Are we?
These are not natural tendencies, because Christians are to be transformed people, different from the world’s norm. And it is only because we are fallen humans that we don’t all manifest these qualities now.
They are also a whole. You cannot manifest one without the other. Each one of them individually demands the others. Do you think it’s a surprise that according to the Bible, these are the first official words Jesus utters after beginning his ministry? He just comes right out and sets the standard for a true blessed, set apart Christian, no sugar coating, no big speech just easy points that have massive power.