When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
When I think of the Beatitudes (one of my favorite portions of the Bible, incidentally), it takes me back to the time when I was little and went with my parents to Omaha (the only screen at the time that could show it) to see “King of Kings” with Jeffery Hunter playing the part of Jesus. The scene where he begins giving the Sermon on the Mount and teaching the Beatitudes profoundly touched me. His soft-spoken voice, and the intensity he displayed stayed with me to this very day.
Decades later, I still love reading the Beatitudes. A year ago my Bible was stolen out of my car at Gateway. I think given the case it was in they assumed it was a purse. I cried for days. I had underlined so many portions that meant different things to me. Portions my mother had underlined. But most of all I missed the one portion of the Beatitudes that was underlined at the bottom of the page in the footnotes. Thankfully my friend and teacher Julie Johnson has the same copy and I was able to retrieve it.
The meaning of the word blessed (pronounced with two syllables) – “The word means more than “happy”, because happiness is an emotion often dependent on outward circumstances or possessions. Blessed refers to the ultimate well-being and distinctive spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. In contrast to the spiritually proud, and self-sufficient, THEIRS is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not something earned! It is recompense.
I encourage you to re-read this portion again slowly.
The light bulb turned on in my head. No matter how much I tried, no matter what I did or said, I can never be able to earn my salvation! What a relief! God loves us no matter how often we make the same mistake, or open our mouths when we should keep them closed. Or make judgements or have doubts, He still loves us beyond measure. He loves the poor in spirit, or those who feel they don’t deserve His love. He loves those who mourn when losing loved ones that can never be replaced in our hearts and comforts us. He loves the meek and those that feel they can’t take another step like the “Footprints in the Sand”. He loves us when we are hungry for righteousness in a society that has often turned its back on righteousness. He loves us when we reflect the mercy, He teaches us toward our fellow man, woman and child. He loves us when we seek our Heavenly Father and find Him in the clouds, or the faces of love from our loved ones, pets, nature, and acts of kindness we witness. He loves when we “stand-up” for those who can’t stand for themselves, even when we are persecuted ourselves for our actions.
But most of all He loves us because we are not perfect. “All fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And as beings created by God to be treasured above all His other creations, He chose us to have a soul. He chose us to be special, with the knowledge that we are made in His image and have the choice of loving Him, and being grateful for all He is to us. All we can surely do is try to reflect the image of His dear Son.
Dear Lord, Let Christ be seen in me today! Amen.
Written by Fran Baatz
Fran is happily married with two daughters, and now four grandchildren and one great-grand daughter! She was an army brat growing up (which means she moved a bit) and her parents (Francis and Orpha Jimenez) were charter members of Sheridan Lutheran Church. She was also the first girl baptized in the church in 1953, so she has been at Sheridan a long time.