Do You Wanna Be Happy? Blessedness

“Blessed…” Matthew 5:2 (NRS)

The Beatitudes are found in both Matthew (5:1-12) and Luke (6:20-26).  In Matthew, they are placed thoughtfully before the Sermon on the Mount, the first and longest message of Jesus that we have in the gospel.  The Beatitudes are different to study than other biblical narratives; each saying is proverb-like:  cryptic, precise and full of meaning.  Contrary to popular belief, the Beatitudes were not initially shared with the masses, as presented to us in bible illustrations and movie productions.   Jesus taught them exclusively to His disciples. Luke makes this distinction clear:  “Then He (Jesus) lifted up His eyes toward the disciples and said…” (Luke 6:20).  The disciples as new citizens of “kingdom of heaven” would need to understand the uniqueness of this kingdom and their role in proclaiming the arrival of its King.  In this initial teaching by Jesus, the Disciples would be the first to be “blessed.”

Blessed or makarios {mak-ar’-ee-os} is translated as “happy.” But “happy” doesn’t seem to capture all that is intended in the Beatitudes because modern usage of this word tends to devalue its true meaning. We use the word happy to describe everything from getting a new car to finding a parking space at the mall.   “Blessed” or happy in this text is an exclamation of the inner joy and peace that comes with being right with God.  Happiness may indeed be a part of it, but it is a happiness that transcends what happens in the world around us—a happiness that comes to the soul from being favored by God. That is why one can feel blessed even during intense persecution (Matt. 5:10; 1 Pet. 3:14).

The Beatitudes are more than characteristics of what believers are to strive for in their spiritual walk.  The qualities outlined in the Beatitudes give a picture of the character of the true people of God who are already part of His kingdom and who have the full blessings of the kingdom—now and in the future (1 John 3:2).  Jesus’ declaration of “blessed” to the disciples is a “pledge of divine reward” for the inner spiritual character of the righteous.  When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become part of the “blessed”.  In Christ we were rescued from the power of darkness and spiritually “transferred” into the kingdom of heaven (Col. 1:12-14).  As we grow in Christ[1], we can better understand and embrace the “blessings” described in the Beatitudes.   God knew the true way to “happiness” and from the foundation of the world prepared the way for us to be “blessed” (Ep. 1:4).

Good to the Last Byte…

Last week we ended our study on the pursuit of happiness by offering a surer path to well-being and contentment that men seek.  That offer was and will always be Jesus the Christ.  It would be Jesus the Christ who would save man from sin, reconcile man to God, and make it possible for men to live in peace.  It is in Christ’s arrival that “eternal blessedness” would replace “temporary happiness.”

[1]  We grow in Christ or spiritual maturity through practicing the disciplines of prayer, fasting, reading the Bible and fellowship with other believers.  Spiritual maturity also requires relinquishing control of our lives to the leading and guidance of Holy Spirit.