Christ’s beatitudes, those memorable opening words from his Sermon on the Mount, are among the most loved and best known verses in the Bible. People who never bother to read the Bible quote them. They appear in all kinds of contexts and sometimes entirely out of context. Here they are once more.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
What strikes me about them today is their long-term outlook. Each one points to some activity or condition in the present and what we might call its long-term reward or payoff. That is, it gives us the “why” that makes each activity or condition worthwhile right now. Christ’s perspective is nothing short of eternal.
Some of them seem completely improbable. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” “Blessed are those who mourn,” “Blessed are you when others revile you…” And yet we have on the authority of Jesus that in any of these situations we should count ourselves blessed.
These are the words of the one who brought blessing out of his cross. Jesus endured that, knowing that it was necessary to accomplish his objectives. I want to be able to look toward Jesus and look toward the end result of what he might be doing in my life in the same way. It’s a lot like Hebrews 12:1-2.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.