Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jesus Taught the Beatitudes

Can we claim we really follow Jesus? Do we really obey his teachings? Do we even understand these opening points, the Beatitudes, of the Sermon on the Mount?

Jesus Teaches Sermon on the Mount.
(Art by Carl Heinrich Bloch, Danish, 1834-1890)

Jesus, I think, was very interested in teaching us right behavior before God and man. In the beginning of his ministry, he gathered a crowd on a mountain side and taught his great sermon with a few brief and very important opening points, the Beatitudes, too easily overlooked.

Blessed are the poor in spirit.

The poor elderly widow walked into the temple and contributed a few pennies, showing us a lesson. Jesus, standing aside, pointed out she gave all the money she possessed. I have a feeling this lady knew that if she gave generously, even all to God, he would take care of her. This is not a matter of money, rather faith and dependence on God.

Blessed are those who mourn.

How many times do we find people in the life of the Gospel mourning, even as in modern life. The widow of Nain in the funeral of her son; Jairus, the synagogue leader, whose daughter had died; Martha and Mary whose brother lay buried for four days. All were mourning until Jesus arrived.

Blessed are the meek.

Zacchaeus was such a short, humble man. He was forced to climb a tree to catch sight of the Master walking by in a large crowd. But Jesus stepped over to him and arranged to dine with Zacchaeus in his home that evening.

Blessed are those who hunger 
and thirst after righteousness.

Righteousness is another word for goodness before God. Nicodemus hungered after righteousness. He questioned Jesus for more understanding. “How can a man be born again when he is old?” After Jesus explained a man must be born of water and the Spirit, he asked for more. “How can this be?” He was determined to learn.

Blessed are the merciful.

Jesus told the story of the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan. The priest and the Levite passed by the man beaten and robbed and lying on the roadside. But the Samaritan rendered aid, poured oil on his wounds, took him to the inn, and paid for his keep.

Blessed are the pure in heart.

Surely, we must see John the Baptist. He dared to condemn the king, Herod, for marrying his brother's wife. Indeed, after the licentious dance of the daughter, she and her mother asked for the head of John on a platter. The Baptist was put to death as a result of their lust.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

The father of the prodigal son should be honored here. When his prodigal son returned, the other brother resented the welcome home feast and favors. The father gently explained to his son that his home position would not be threatened. Rather, they should rejoice together for the return of the lost brother.

Blessed are the persecuted.

The darkness hates the light, always. Look at Paul, the great missionary Apostle! Forced to escape numerous times, slandered, hunted, beaten, stoned, left for dead, sentenced, ship wrecked, and finally martyred. A disciple today can judge his Christian witness by the degree of persecution he receives.

You are the salt of the earth! 
You are the light of the world!

Jesus taught our example before men should be strong and fresh like salt. The light of our witness for him must shine unmistakably in the World, that men may give praise to our Heavenly Father. Jesus taught us, and Jesus, himself, led the way.

Bill Hunt

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