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This is Living Part 2: BLESSED

We all have our vision of what the “blessed” life is. Jesus has a vision of that too - and it might be completely different from what you think! This week we unpack the first of the 9 Beatitudes - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3). Be prepared to let go of what you know, and rediscover what Jesus means.

Message Notes 19/05/2024

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Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Matt 5 (NIV): ​1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
 The Beatitudes
He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Beatitudes" comes from Latin beātitūdō (“happiness, blessedness”) and links to the 4th Century when Jerome translated the Greek scriptures into the Latin Vulgate. It doesn't speak of these being "beautiful attitudes", but rather, this is what happiness is according to Jesus.

Sermon or Song on the Mount?

  • Matthew never used the word "sermon"

  • Sermon may lead one to anticipate rules prescriptions

  • Sermons are often considered boring and not memorable

  • Sermons are often listened to but seldom applied

  • There is too much in these 100 verses to be contained in a single sermon

  • This is most likely a collection of Jesus' most well-known teachings

  • It could be thought of as a song of possibility - this is Jesus' vision of what humanity could be, living the kingdom way.

  • It should be studied, slowly, asking questions and finding answers in community - finding revelation that leads to an application that leads to transformation!

  • Mount is significant - there is an echo here: Jesus as a second Moses (think Siani and the 10 commandments in Exodus) - interpreting God's way of living to his people

These are Descriptions, not Prescriptions  

Jesus is casting a vision of what living in the kingdom of heaven looks like… when someone is doing this, they resemble something of what it looks like to live in the Kingdom. They are not prescriptions that one must do to get to heaven one day!

These are Perspectives, not Proclamations 

Most likely, the "Blessed" here is a subjective perspective, rather than a pronouncement or proclamation of blessing. In other words, Jesus is saying these people are blessed, because of some deeper truth that they have realized, rather than speaking a blessing upon them.

The Greek word behind our English "Blessed" is Makarios. Jesus however would have spoken Aramaic or Hebrew. So, looking at the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, we find that the Hebrew word that gets translated as Makarios is ash'rêy אשרי.

Blessed (ash'rêy אשרי) are those whose strength is in you, Psalms 84:5

The other Hebrew word that is translated as blessed in English is  bârûkh   בּרוך 

 God blessed ( bârûkh   בּרוך ) them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number… Genesis 1:22

Why does this matter? Jesus is pointing out that when people have got ahold of this truth, that is what the blessed life, the good life is. He is most likely not speaking a blessing over people who are in some undesirable position.

"Poor in spirit"

Jesus is not romanticizing poverty, and he is likely not speaking of the spiritually immature. Rather, he is speaking of those who are powerless and humble. Those who lack the power to do something about the situation they are in, thus they have realized their dependence is on God. People in this state, more easily receive this upside-down Kingdom. They are free from the lie that power and control will bring contentment. These people operate from humility  - they are not entitled and do not have a sense of pride or self-achievement. Their dependence is on God (everything comes from him), they recognize their dependence on others (community), and they realize a responsibility to help others.

The Hebrew word behind the Greek word here is.

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble (עָנִי ‘âniy)and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. Isaiah 66:2

Kingdom of heaven

 It is not somewhere abstract out there, but arriving here (Matt 4:17). Not the tense: present. Theirs is the kingdom - now, here, today.

Jesus is setting up a new community and showing how to live in this.

We could paraphrase 5:3 like this:

Happy are those who are free from a prideful spirit and are humble, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, here and now, today! The good life looks like realizing complete dependence on God, and a freedom from striving for power and control. That's what living looks like.


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