I was recently thinking about the first teachings to come out of Jesus’ mouth, according to the book of Matthew, in chapter 5. It got me thinking, is this the ‘gospel’ Jesus taught and all things would flow around these teachings? They call them the beautitudes, must mean something about ‘being blessed’. The teachings are as follows and I think they represent a fair portrayal of what Jesus altogether taught through his life.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
What is the ‘poor in spirit’? Luke pins/defines it by saying ‘the poor’ (leaving out spirit). It seems that Christians would identify themselves as people that care about the poor (ex: depressed, poverty-stricken, diseased, hospitalized, oppressed, etc). Following Christ seems to mean ‘helping/serving’ the poorer parts of our society, identifying with them and actually caring about the needs they have. Jesus’ whole ministry included the poor in his society (lepers, blind, poverty-stricken, diseased, demon-possessed, prostitutes, drunks, etc…).
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Mourning, the act of sorrow and contrition. I guess the opposite of this would be holding in and harboring pain, resulting in much stress and anger. It seems the release of your problems and your sorrows is key with moving forward in life, to finding answers, to finding comfort. Bad things will happen in life around you and it will change you, will you deal with loss or build animosity? It seems Jesus points to this and says ‘this is normal’ and comfort will come from all angles if we accept, not reject our sorrow.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
What does meek mean? Meekness is interpreted as ‘gentle’, ‘kind’, ‘quiet’, and ‘reserved’. Being meek means to exemplify the message of Christ, kindness and compassion. These are the people that ‘do not lord it over others’, they act as ‘servants’, and ‘love & accept others’. Meekness is seen as the opposite of proud. This statement is true about inheriting the earth. The more accepting and compassionate you are the more friends you gain, who in turn trust you (sometimes with everything). Little do you know that by your kindness you have safe-guarded your life.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Satisfaction can only come by seeking and ‘hungering’ for the truth or the ‘right’ answer. Ignorance is bliss, but the truth is satisfying. Asking questions and seeking the answers to problems is key to growing and becoming a responsible person. If you quit seeking and asking you run the risk of becoming apathetic and complacent…you make yourself irrelevant. Getting the ‘right’ answer is not an easy process but it will help complete your life (ethic, ideas, paradigms, answers, actions, etc).
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
This is the idea that if you treat people with mercy (forgiveness) they will in turn do that for you when you wrong them. It also speaks to respecting others and your outlook on judgment (do you judge too critically?). The call is to be someone who can forgive others because sometimes ‘they know not what they are doing’. It is also the higher principle in judgment, having mercy as your basis for judging others and not condemnation.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Pure in heart? This seems to relate back to the last point ‘treating others as you want to be treated’. It’s about developing ethics based on these ‘blessed’ statements and developing an attitude of salvation (you can actively help others) and not judgment (being critical of others to their detriment). It is a pure thing to have a vision of seeing humans as God’s creation and then treating them thusly. Not only are you seeing the human side of a person but you recognize their link back to God (as His creation)…so you do see God in helping them and sharing with them. This statement directly relates to Jesus’ parable on the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
This speaks to the heart of the gospel (Jesus’ teachings), it is called the ‘gospel of peace’…meaning these words of Jesus should always reflect peace and nothing else. It plays a reference to knowing God in that being called a ‘child of God’ is being called part of God’s family (there is no higher praise for a human than this). So the child of God is a child of peace and decides in all situations that division, destruction, violence, hate, seperation, and war are all ideals of a human mind-frame (limited thinking). There is nothing greater than knowing you partner with God in any situation that brings peace.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
It is a little known fact that some people will not like you for the sake of ‘doing the right thing’, as proven in history, which comes from seeking the right answers to tough questions (ex: segregation, in-equality, racism, class systems). Doing the right thing doesn’t always mean people are going to hold your hands up as a champion, no…they might hate you if it is too hard against the status quo (ex: see the civil rights of African Americans in the 1900’s). Helping others on a personal level might mean you are subject to harsh criticism’s, judgment by friends, avoidance, and outright dislike towards you (it does happen). This can happen once you decide to help the oppressed, down-trodden, poor, depressed, criminal, etc..and fly in the face of the norm.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
This is the same speech as the previous one and means the same thing except for one little addition ‘because of me’. This means you are standing up for the ‘right things’ (same as above) but you also are recognized as a follower of Jesus (more for it’s time period 1st Century AD). But the fact Jesus taps his name on the end of it does mean He is aware of the animosity people will have for these teachings (and following Jesus’ teachings can make you a target). What is also different is the fact these people might be ‘killed’ for what they believe (that’s what happened to many of the prophets who claimed to have messages from God). Rejoice in the fact you are hated? Points to a central teaching of Jesus, everlasting life or a heaven (resurrection & life after death). So focus your effort’s on earthly situations, but your reward is from beyond this earth.