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Summary: The beatitudes are radical challenges live as apprentices of Jesus

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One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are humble,

for they will inherit the whole earth.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,

for they will be satisfied.

God blesses those who are merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure,

for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace,

for they will be called the children of God.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. (Matthew 5:1-12, NLT)

This part of Matthew’s Gospel has a parallel in Luke’s, but the two are quite different in many ways and have different theological purposes.

We know this part as ‘The Beatitudes’, and the sayings are so familiar to our ears that we often let them flow over us, without really considering how, if we take them seriously, they revolutionise our lives, and have the potential to revolutionise the world. The New Living Translation version above, is a couple of steps away from the tradition of the Authorised Version (sometimes known as the King James Version), in which the familiar English makes us feel comfortable, because we know what is coming next. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message, pushes us further outside our comfort zone:

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.


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