Friday, March 11, 2011

Blessed are the...

We would like invite you to take a fresh look at the beatitudes with us in the hopes that they will lead us to be the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world".

“(the beatitudes) give us not only a way to see God, but a way to see our world, and they give us something concrete to do about what we see, as they call us to participate in God's kingdom.” -Anne Howard

"Blessed are the..."

Lets stop right there. It is easy to read into something a meaning that is not there, without a proper understanding of the context in which it is said. Or we could say we cannot get a proper understanding of Jesus message if we do not understand what exactly he is saying.

The word Blessed is the Greek word makarios, and it means blessed or happy.

However this makarios is not a word used in asking for or even invoking blessings, such as "Lord I ask that you bless this person," or "We ask God to bless this ministry." That word would be eulogeō, and it (eulogeō) does not appear anywhere in the beatitudes.

Raymond Brown describes makarios as "not part of a wish list and not to invoke a blessing. Rather it is to recognize an existing state of happiness or good fortune."

Kenneth Bailey further adds "We could say it affirms a present reality or it points out a state of spirituality that is already present."

The beatitudes are the first and longest message of Jesus that we have a record of. Up until this point, Jesus has been announcing that the kingdom of heaven was, near and at hand, He had been calling for people to repent to re-orientate their lives. Now, in what could be described as a manifesto of His kingdom, Jesus unveils the foundations and character of life in that kingdom. Here He teaches the ethical guidelines for life in His kingdom; and the guidelines point to the quality of righteousness that characterizes life in the kingdom, here and now as a present reality not as something God left us longing for.

It is not asking for a blessing but neither is the second line a reward for the first line. "Jesus does not say you will be blessed if you..." We could say it like this: "Joyful is my friend Neil because he will inherit his family's business." Neil is already joyful and will eventually inherit the business. There is nothing for him to do. The first statement affirms his joyful state and the second presents a future that allows him to even now to live a life of joy.

Jesus goes on to affirm that these makarios blessed ones make up the membership of the kingdom of heaven, which is already theirs.

With this firmly in hand let us gather together and read Jesus words with a fresh understanding of what kind of blessings we have and what kind of lives we are called to live.

No comments: