SubversiveJesus is talking to the gathered crowd which is made up of a broad spectrum of society who have started following Him because of the miracles and healings He has been doing.
And He starts with the word: "Makarioi -- Blessed, fortunate, happy."
What do you think of when you think of the word "Blessed"?
What does it mean someone says: "Well! I'm blessed" ?
- That it's going well.
- That my family is well.
- My business is well.
- My health is good....
The people of the day would have agreed with you...
They thought that blessedness had to do with financial and material and physical security.
And, put the other way round: If you were healthy, wealthy and secure -- you were blessed by God -- God was with you...
And, if not, then God wasn't with you...
Job's Comforters had the same circumstance-based theology... In their minds, Job's diminishing circumstances proved that he had fallen out of favour with God.
But how did the crowd hear it?
If you looked at the crowds that were there that day -- there would have been many there who felt that that they were not prosperous.
When Jesus starts with the word "blessed are"... they would have expected words like "the holy, the perfect, the successful, the prosperous."
And they would expect to be shut out, once again by the divides of class, wealth, fortune and structure.
But let's look at Jesus unexpected list of the blessed:
- the poor in spirit - those who are dependent
- the mourning - who have suffered loss
- the meek - who have resisted the temptation to go the route of power
- the righteousness-hungry - who long for something better
- the merciful - give kindness where it is not deserved
- the pure - untainted
- the peacemaking - there is always a cost
- the persecuted and insulted ones.
This is incredibly subversive! Jesus is calling the poor, the sick, the downtrodden and the struggling blessed! To be subversive is to overthrow or undermine a government, political or religious system by working from within.
Jesus is dynamiting preconceived ideas and calcified theologies.
What's even more interesting is what He promises them:
- To the poor - God's Kingdom is Yours;
- the mourning - God will comfort you;
- the meek - You will inherit the earth (you will fulfil God's purposes);
- those who hunger and thirst - your hunger will be filled;
- those who are merciful - you will receive mercy;
- the pure in heart - you'll see God;
- the peace-makers - you'll be recognised as God's children
- the persecuted ones - you'll be certain of your heavenly citizenship.
So the kingdom of God is inaugurated with these powerful words:
The people who least expect it discover that they are blessed - that God's face is turned toward them!
At the very start of His teaching Jesus makes it clear: He has not come for those who have it all together, but for those who struggle and strain. Blessing has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with God's care for those in these tough circumstances.
|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 be shown 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 because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (Matthew5:3-11)|