The Beatitudes

Exegetical Study: 

Most Christians prefer to meditate on the goodness of God. We also may prefer to meditate on his blessings as a reminder of his power in our lives, his undivided devotion, and his protective care. However, would we meditate on blessings that require actions which demonstrate God's sovereignty in our lives? The beatitudes denote such blessings. Matthew 5:3-12 depicts the beatitudes and its implications provided by Jesus during his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus utilizes statements "Happy is or are", a common Greek and Judeo-Christian form known as the beatitudes to identify the character paradox of his followers. The genre of beatitude extols fortune that accrues to a person and exalts this person to the condition of good fortune. The statements, "Happy is or are", reflect this good fortune. In Matthew 5:3-12, the term translates to blessed. In addition, the Thayer Greek lexicon translates the term to μακάριος which means blessed or happy. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament denotes that the word group of μακάριος "refers overwhelmingly to the distinctive religious joy which accrues to man from his share in salvation of the kingdom of God."

 

Jesus attributes to his followers that when they possess poverty of spirit and receive persecution for sake of righteousness, they share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. At first glance, these attributes or characteristics of his followers appear as a paradox to societal values. However, poor of spirit describes God's faithful people who humbly depend on his protection in the face of oppression. In addition, they do not boast arrogant self-confidence but rather accept God's rule. Persecution for righteousness denotes righteous behavior of one who extends mercy, possesses purity of heart, and works peace while suffering. In this suffering, one does not compromise but remains faithful and loyal to God. These characteristics (poor of spirit and persecution for righteousness) identify God's sovereignty in the lives of Jesus' followers.

 

Jesus' proclamation of the beatitudes reveals blessings for his followers, when they demonstrate these attributes in their lives. He declares that those who live in this manner allow God's rule or sovereignty in their lives. This allowance also fosters a spiritual reward of sharing in the salvation of the kingdom of God. Even though, it appears that possessing these qualities produce affliction, they actually produce an utter dependence on God. The outcome of such dependence causes Christians to receive good fortune, the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, the initial question remains, will you meditate on blessings that reveal your utter dependence on God?