Sunday

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (vv. 3-4)

Matthew 5:1-12 Sunday 3 November 2013


Background

Welcome to our week looking at the blessings from the beginningof the Sermon on the Mount and some passages from Proverbs. Thefact that this passage comes at the beginning of such a week givesa clue as to how we are going to approach them: in describing whois truly blessed, Jesus is teaching us something about the way ofdiscipleship.

Matthew's Gospel is always very keen to present Jesus as ateacher, there are several blocks of teaching throughout theGospels, of which this is the first and best known. Even the factthat Jesus sits (verse 1) tells us something - in the ancient worldthe teacher sat and the learners stood to listen.

This is the very start of Jesus' ministry - up to now we haveheard about his birth, his Baptism and temptation and the callingof the disciples and his first healings. Now for the first timeMatthew's Gospel presents Jesus teaching which, perhaps, gives evenmore significance to the fact that he opens by pronouncing who isblessed in this new kingdom.

The word translated 'blessed' is makarios,which is sometimestranslated 'blessed' and sometimes 'happy'. It means free fromdaily cares and worries, or prosperous and was used to describe thestate of gods who neither toiled nor worried. This, of course,means that Jesus' list of who is blessed is very strange - it isnot the rich, the satisfied and the successful who are blessedaccording to Jesus, but the poor, the weak and the struggling.

The list includes even those who are struggling forrighteousness. Jesus does not say, 'blessed are the righteous' butrather "blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness"(v. 6). There is something here about both humility and alsolonging rather than self-satisfied achievement which is blessed inJesus' kingdom.


To Ponder

  • Which one of the beatitudes speaks to you particularly?
  • Why does this one strikes you? What might thistell you about your own discipleship? 
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