Monday, April 21, 2008

The Beatitude Man

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I've been slowly going through the Beatitudes recently, the mighty, beautiful, scary prologue to the Sermon on the Mount. As i've said before, the Lord is in the detail, and how! There is so much in these ten verses that i've missed before. Here's just some of it!

Scripture is made up of sixty-six different books. It's not a line of pearls strung together to make nice sayings or pithy catch phrases, but a story, a reality. The same is true of Jesus' teaching in the Gospels, and that was something i'd forgotten when i'd read these verses before. The Beatitudes aren't a string of pearls, they are a line of consistent teaching. So what do they teach? Whats the point?

I'd never seen this before, but they are all linked up, it's not ten different thoughts all placed side by side because it looks nice, but rather one stream of thought about what life, what people in the Kingdom of God look like. So what do these people look like?

They are poor in spirit. Why? Because they mourn. Not in the way that David mourned over his son, but more, i imagine in the way that Jesus mourned for Jerusalem. Kingdom people are those who are humble, because they know their sin and they mourn over it. They hate it. And this knowledge of the horror of their sin leads to meekness. How can anyone be proud when they consider their sin before a holy God? I know i'm missing out half of each verse but we'll come back to why...i know they're there!

What happens to people who are like this? Who are mournful and meek, who are broken for sin. They hunger and thirst for righteousness. They will be satisfied, all those who come to Jesus and drink will never thirst again. They will be merciful, all arrogance is excluded in the face of knowing your sin, humility and mercy are close friends. These people will seek purity of heart. The whole point of Jesus' teaching here is that no one is good enough, and certainly that no one is good enough because they are good enough on the outside. So in people's hearts purity will be sought. What a dazzling reward for those who are pure in heart.

When we see God everything changes. Peace will become our default preference. We will be called sons of God with God the Father as the ultimate peacemaker. When we're like this persecution is bound to follow. If the world couldn't stand Jesus, how will they treat us?

Look at the second half of the verses...somewhere between dazzling motivational reward and natural consequence. Isn't this exactly what we long for, inheritance, satisfaction, comfort? is that that what everyones longing for everywhere? Kingdom life is reward laden.

So is that what the Beatitudes are, a description of normal Christian living? I do very much hope not. I can't imagine anyone being a Christian for more than a week before something stops them mourning over sin, or longing for righteousness, or seeking purity in heart. Of course, on one level the unfulfilled version of these verses is exactly what Christian life is that...but what about the fulfillment? Who is the man who mourned over sin, who was meek and poor in spirit, who was pure in heart, who made peace? Who is man who said that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and Scribes we will never see the Kingdom? Who can say these things without His lifestyle reproaching Him?


It's all about Jesus! Jesus is everything we could never be. he sets the standard impossibly high, as in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, as here. He does not deny His Father, and so sets a high standard, but then wonderful, graciously, He meets that standard. Jesus is the perfect Son of God, He is the only one good enough for entrance into the Kingdom of God, the only one who met these demands...and He is our substitute.

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