“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.” ”
This passage is commonly known as the Beatitudes, and I’ve honestly never really understood them. I’m not sure if Jesus is instructing the disciples on how to live, or if there is something more going on here.
But what really confuses me is how the cause and effect works here. I mean, verse 7 makes sense. The merciful will receive mercy. But verse 3? The poor in spirit go to the kingdom of heaven? What does that even mean? Maybe it’s a translation issue. Maybe it sounds more symmetrical in Greek.
Maybe Jesus is seeking to offer comfort to those who are in troubled times. My husband referred to the Beatitudes as a promise. A promise that things will be better in Heaven. The hungry will be filled, the mourners will be comforted. My husband also seems to think Jesus was speaking to the crowds, not just the disciples. These must have been encouraging words for them.
The last blessing Jesus gives are to those persecuted for Him. It will happen, he says. Paul also dwells on this. Your reward, Jesus insists, is not in this life, but the next.
That’s important for me to remember. Jesus does not promise to fix anything in this life. But if we stay faithful our reward will be eternal. And really that’s better anyway.