Friday, February 12, 2010

Blessed Be...

I have missed one week in posting my continuing commentary on the book of Matthew but here I am again...

Matthew 5:3-10

On the side of the mountain the people were waiting for some hint to a future change that would soon improve their current situation.  Right now they are eagerly anticipating any statement from Jesus just like reporters do when they wait outside the White House when the President is about to make a statement regarding a controversial political issue.  Jesus accurately understood what the people have been thinking.  They were expecting a military take-over.  They were imagining a reversal of fortunes: the Jews would rule and the Romans would be their subjects.  In their minds this is the blessing that was considered apropos.   It is obvious that they wanted physical change; they just can't spell it out.  They wanted change in their environment and this could have been by way of a political unrest. 

Jesus had a mission and a plan of action that is entirely different from what the people had anticipated.  Instead of changing the physical setting, He intended to start a change from within.  It was a peaceful change that would start from their inner core.  Jesus intended to renew the peoples hearts in order to cause a spiritual change.  That change is required to all who would be part of His kingdom.

In any science class where students are required to participate in lab activities, the instructor always makes sure that the students know what specific words mean.  Knowing the meaning of terms means that you will be able to follow instructions without causing unnecessary disaster and knowing when certain occurrences are expected or not.  Jesus being aware in the discrepancy between His and the peoples' expectations took the necessary right step.  He started his lesson by giving them an unnerving and radical picture of true blessedness.  Blessedness as He described is a paradox in the sense that it starts as the opposite of what the conventional mind would believe but in the end great rewards await those who persevere beyond the test. 

Who are the Blessed Ones?

1.  They are those who are defenseless
"Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, and those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."

These are the defenseless people.  They are those who do not have ramparts or castle walls to protect them.  They are constantly vulnerable and losing to the enemy.  Jesus said, "Blessed they are."  The things that they were deprived of (defenses, estate, righteousness, comfort, and joy) will come to them in magnitude that is beyond their imagination.  "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven; they will be comforted; they will inherit the earth and they will be filled."

2.  They are those who are concerned for others
      "Blessed are those who are merciful...
           Blessed are the pure in heart...
              Blessed are the peacemakers..."

These are people who act on behalf of others.  They are those who make sacrifices so that others would enjoy life.  Search your heart, motives and activities.  Do they involve alleviating sufferings around you?  Do you cry for the widows and the orphans?  Do you help those who cannot pay you back?  Do you share your shelter with those who cannot invite you back to their homes?  Do you help even when no one pats your back for doing it?  Jesus points out that these are the people whom God is marking to inherit his kingdom.  May our actions be geared, therefore, towards reducing the pain and hunger and discomfort instead of soliciting praises from men or those we want to impress.

3.  They are those who suffer for God's name
Even from the very beginning, Jesus foreknew that following him would involved all sorts of persecutions and insults.   Yet, "Blessed are they..." he said once again.     "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Jesus' point was clear.  His consuming concern for the citizens of His kingdom is not limited to this world.   This life is but a boardwalk to the Garden of Blessedness.  Our life in this world pales out in comparison to the eternal life that He has come to offer us.  Do not get distracted by the vexations of this life focus on the great reward that lies ahead.  The flow of blessings begins as you take your first step towards your reward.

Related:  Before the Big Speech

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