Blessed are…

Matthew 5: 1-12 The Beatitudes are a roadmap to both liberty and freedom. They are the very heartbeat of Jesus. In the Old Testament, we see God working through a series of “Thou Shalt nots”: “Thou shalt not have any other gods before Me”, and so forth. And like a marriage covenant, these Ten Commandments represent minimum standards given to the Israelites by God. In the New Testament, with the Beatitudes, instead of a list of “Thou shalt not(s),” we see Jesus speaking love, peace and blessing to the people He encounters. Jesus gives us His promises through the Beatitudes. We know that whenever Jesus goes up on a mountain, divine revelation is about to happen. We read that, “when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach.” And, He wasn’t preaching, he was speaking God’s promise to us: so we need to hear what he is saying as a promise-moment. This is Jesus teaching us how to live happily and be set free; God’s promise to each of us. 

In the Greek, the word for “blessed” is “makarios,” meaning “happy.” So we can read the Beatitudes in this way also: “Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Happy are the meek, for they will inherit the earth, etc.” The life we live, and the road of life that we’re all on, includes vision, direction, lifestyles, and the individual paths that are before us, right now. The promise we receive from Jesus is that He came to help us find our happiness, and to have liberty and freedom in the lives we lead. Humanist Joseph Campbell, when asked to sum it all up, said, "Follow your bliss!" I believe he meant that we should seek the deepest meaning and purpose for our lives possible, and follow our dreams, our vision, and desires for our lives. So when we hear Jesus saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” we must de-code this. Poor in spirit means the person who is completely dependent on God: emotionally, psychologically and spiritually dependent on nothing but God. We are humble in our praise of God, and fully dependent on God because we have placed our spiritual core in our faith in God. This was the lesson of the Israelites from wandering in the desert for forty years; to be completely dependent on God. And God didn’t disappoint.

On the flip side, does our super-ego, which projects us as the center of the universe, and also our arrogance and other personal negatives, allow the Dark Side to rule us? You know, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” We may be full of vanity and self-interest, or ego-driven, arrogant and angry; or we may be easily offended, and hurt. Or, we may cry out in legitimate pain, because of some spiritual, physical or psychological wound that we’ve suffered in life. The promise of Jesus is that He comes to set us free from those abuses, which include our own sins, so that we might find “makarios”, that is, "true happiness” or blessedness, through Jesus. In Jeremiah 29, God says, “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for peace and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

We all make mistakes, don’t we?  By recognizing our sins, we can name our mistakes and ask God for forgiveness. The gift of tears, tears for how we've hurt ourselves and others, can bring release from our regrets and then great joy in the morning. Our earthly failures can lead to anger, sin and death, so seek after God and your soul will be able to live in joy! The Holy Spirit will fill you, and you’ll have a kingdom-relationship with God-Spirit. That is true liberty and freedom. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; blessed are those who seek to be fed spiritual food, who hunger for God more than anything else. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and will be satisfied with the things that if, we keep seeking, we will find.” Are you hungry for the spirit-food that God’s offering to you, right now? “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Pastor Jan