Most Christians miss Jesus’ blessing in his beatitudes. I did for many years, even as a pastor and psychotherapist.
When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3) we hear, “You’ll be blessed by God if you’re humble.”
That’s generally true, but it’s not what Jesus says and it’s not the spirit in which he speaks.
When Jesus gives his Sermon on the Mount the crowd listening to him includes those who are “ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed” (Matt. 4:24). These people are spiritually impoverished.
That’s not the same thing as being humble. You can be spiritually poor and be proud. Or you can be spiritually enriched and be humble.
How to Receive Jesus’ Blessing
Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy teaches us how to read Jesus and how to apply his words to his life. Along these lines, try my paraphrase of Jesus’ beatitudes:
Blessed are you who are uneducated in the spiritual life, for the kingdom of the heavens is available to you.
Blessed are you who are grieving a terrible loss, for the Lord’s comfort is available to you.
Blessed are you who are shy and unassertive, for you are offered heaven’s best blessings on earth.
Blessed are you who are wrongly treated and long for justice, for the Lord is eager to fill you with his goodness.
Blessed are you who are sensitive-hearted and burdened by others’ pain, for the Lord’s unfailing mercy is available to you.
Blessed are you nice people who just want what is good, for the Lord sees your hearts and wants to befriend you.
Blessed are you who get caught in the middle of conflicts trying to bring peace, for the Lord calls you his sons and daughters.
Blessed are you who are persecuted for being godly and doing right, for the kingdom of the heavens is available to you.
(Excerpted from Jesus’ Greatest Teaching: Living the Sermon on the Mount by Bill Gaultiere.)
Which beatitude do you most need to receive from the Lord Jesus Christ?
I need to hear “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.” Today, like many days, I’ve empathized with hurting people. I carry some of that pain. It can weigh me down. It doesn’t feel like a blessing to have a tender-heart!
But I am blessed, not because I’m making sacrifices, but because God’s mercy is flowing into me and then through me!
Which blessing are you especially drawn to today?
It’ll help you to receive that gift of grace if you repeat Jesus’ words out loud and pray it from your mind into your heart and body.
A Fresh and Transformational Reading of Jesus’ Sermon
Learning how to better understand and apply Jesus’ teachings in his Sermon on the Mount has been a HUGE blessing for Kristi and me and the people we minister to.
You can order a copy of my latest booklet Jesus’ Greatest Teaching: Living the Sermon on the Mount. (It’s only available on our Soul Shepherding website.)