31 October 2010

Matthew 5:1-12

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (v.4)


Today's Scripture passage is taken from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. More specifically, we're looking at the part of that sermon commonly referred to as the Beatitudes. (The word 'beatitude' comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning 'blessedness'.) Jesus is speaking primarily to his disciples here; the twelve who have followed him up the mountain.

"Blessed" is a word whose true meaning seems to have been corrupted somewhat today. We are often told to 'count our blessings', and it is right that we remember the good things we have and are thankful to God for them. But that is really a rather temporal, material view of what 'blessing' is. In some ways, Jesus seems to be saying the opposite here. How can you be 'blessed' if you are mourning? Surely the blessing is having all your loved ones alive and well!

Right from the word go, Jesus lets those who would follow him know that it will not be an easy ride. But the promise is there that he will see us through all that life throws at us. Mourning and persecution are not happy places to be in. Yet Jesus assures us that in such dire circumstances we have a promise of blessing. What he offers is reassurance, not that 'everything's going to be all right', but that God is with us in the hard times.

People do tend to think 'God is good' only when things are going well. It's a lot harder to see 'God in this' when things are not going as we would like - so maybe that is why Jesus focuses so much here on letting his disciples know that there are blessings in life's low moments.

To Ponder

How does Jesus' idea of what it means to be 'blessed' differ from ours?

What do you think Jesus would say today to survivors of the recent floods in Pakistan, landslides in China or the Haiti earthquakes, as they mourn their lost loved ones?

As we mark All Saints Sunday today, which people will you take time out for in order to thank God for bringing them into your life?

Bible notes author

George Luke

George Luke works as an editor and writer at Methodist Church House. He grew up in Sierra Leone and now lives in London.