Blessed Are You!
Life in Christ Lutheran, Albertville, MN
Rev. Michael At Trask
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
What are we to make of these Historically, most people have taken them another application of God law, the Ten commandments restated by Jesus. So when people take it like this the beatitudes of Jesus become description of how individual Christians must behave if ever they want to be among the blessed. “You wanna be blessed person, you better be meek” You want to be blessed, you better be merciful” Sounds kind of scary. Because we are not always so meek and not always so s merciful. It makes it sounds as if our salvation hinges on whether or not we do this. So from the perspective the beatitudes become threatening.
Now the same Jesus who gave this sermon on the also would say “Whoever BELEIVES in him, shall have life everlasting.” Who ever BELIEVES! We are saved not by what we do. Not by making ourselves more meek, not by making ourselves more merciful, but by faith in Christ Jesus who die for our sin. So Jesus isn’t really revealing the law again in these beatitudes. If this were just a list of things that we have to accomplish in order to be saved, it would be a pretty frightening things.
But that’ not what it is! As a matter of fact the beatitudes are really a description of God’s emergent Grace at work in people. He didn’t come to give us more law. We already know that. It is written on the tablets of stone given at Sinai and written on our hearts. He didn’t come to give us more law, but rather Grace. It is he who said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” Does that sound scary or threatening? No. Because it’s gospel Or how about this one, “Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.:” Is that treating? no, that’s gospel He said “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me for drink” This is Jesus. He is the embodiment of God’s grace. His message is not one not one of law but of love, not of threat, but of Grace; pure, unadulterated, Grace.
There’s a whole different economy when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus once made this clear in a remark about how difficult it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom heaven. What he was getting at was not that having riches was wrong, but rather that rich men often use their money as a scorecard and a measurement of their value as a person, but the kingdom of heaven is much different. God doesn’t look at some scorecard that we have contrived and judge you according to that, but rather he judges you according to his grace. He sees you through Christ. OR in our day there are people who imagine that if they can somehow tweak their image and hone it to a fine point and if they can somehow convince all other people they are good people and make themselves acceptable to others, then, they assume that this also they are acceptable to God. But again God has a completely different economy. He doesn’t look at this contrived scorecard either. He doesn’t say “oh, you have made yourself appear to be a good person, therefore I will consider you good too!” He doesn’t opperate that way, he says “I am gracious and merciful, my son died for you, that’s why I find you acceptable. It’s an economy of Grace. The beatitudes introduce this.
Let’s look at a couple of these beatitudes. The first beatititude. says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, they recognize how deeply in debt they are, they recognize that they have been imperfect, sinful, failures in love. They are spiritually poor and the know it and they admit it. And they are blessed because in the coming Christ is offering them a wealth of forgiveness. Those who who freely admit that they are spiritually poor, will be made rich in Christ, and therefore blessed. Instead of puffing ourselves up and declaring how spiritually powerful we are, instead of saying “oh, I’m so very spiritual, look how spiritual I am!” The way into the kingdom begins with an admission that you haven’t been spiritual. With admission comes the blessed good news that heaven is a gift that God would give freely according to his Grace.
Laodicea, a church in Asia Minor had a problem with keeping the wrong scorecard. Jesus said “You say , I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Do you see how Jesus is urging them to move away from the earthly scorecard and to see themselves through the eyes of God? Why is he doing this. He wants them to receive grace. That’s the only way that anyone is going to be saved, by Grace. They must dump all of their rich-fool-self-congratulatory thinking and appeal to God not on the basis of their scorecard, but on the basis of Grace, because that’s how the kingdom of God works.
The second beatitude. “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.” Again a mind-expanding statement. From our earthly perspective this sounds ridiculous. We have been indoctrinated by life to always keep astiff upper lip, and put on a happy face, we have been taught to avoid all grief and sadness. We can’t stand that stuff really. How can it possibly be a blessing thing to mourn?
I think you know. While being poor in spirit means that you’ve come to terms with the fact that you cannot make it without the grace of God, to mourn is to come to terms the idea that nothing on this earth, not the people; not the things; not the associations, not the countries, none of it, none of your possessions or loved ones are going to last; they are all passing away. We are blessed in this realization because the kingdom of God is at Hand! And it is bountiful! It more than we can imagine and more wonderful than anything.
In Matthew when Jesus talks about the last day of earth He says, “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the son of Man, and then all the tribes of earth will mourn.” When Jesus returns they will mourn rather than rejoice. After a lifetime of hitching their hopes to the things of the world, they will see that it is all coming to an end. Better to know that now! Better to mourn now! Blessed are they who mourn now! Because those who mourn know the truth. The truth about this reality, the truth about the future. And the truth about our relationship with God. Blessed are they who mourn now for THEY WILL BE COMFORTED.
We are the poor in spirit. We are those who mourn. We are woke to the reality of ourselves and the reality of this world. But does this mean we are depressed about it. Now, Because our’s is the kingdom of heaven. Right now it is ours and we are in it, and we are comforted because we know that no matter how crazy how destruct, how weird things are turning out in front of our eyes, this is not all there is. This is only a fraction of what there is! There’s a whole lot more to us and our existence because we’ve learned to mourn and received the ultimate comfort of Christ.
Every time I study the beatitudes, I end up understanding them in a different way. Lately I have begun to understand that the Beatitudes are the description of the Christian mind which is awoke to the reality of God’s Grace coming into the world and what that grace does. Each of the beatitudes includes one of the great and longstanding promises of God. He want’s to give us kingdom of heaven, he wants to comfort us, he wants to restore the earth and put us on it, he wants satisfy our need for righteousness, to show us mercy, to call us his sons and daughters, he wants us to be able to see God. This has always been Gods work, God’s plan, God’s Grace that would be brought to completion in Christ. You look into the beatitudes, you begin to see the mind of the Lord being revealed to us… they show us what he’s about…. he’s about blessing us. AMEN