The Sermon on the Mount, by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834–1890)
The Beatitudes are from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. My quotes are from Matthew 5, verses 3-12 NIV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Sometimes translated as just “poor,” sometimes translated as “destitute in spirit.” Maybe Jesus meant that it’s easier for poor, humble people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven because they have less to lose. Like the allegory about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.
Want to know for sure what Jesus meant?
Get a time machine, go back and ask him.
Don’t ask me, I’m a preacher, not The Doctor.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
If you’re mourning, it implies that you had something special and then lost it. It could be a loved one, or a home, or a way of life interrupted by poverty or war.
And the “they will be comforted” part? Don’t discount the power of the Holy Spirit, but don’t be lazy and assume that someone else (God, your pastor, the other guy…) will do the comforting. See someone who’s mourning? Comfort them.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
I once heard this explained as “The Earth? Who wants the Earth? Don’t we all want to go to heaven? I guess being meek isn’t so great.”
OK. I see their point. But that doesn’t mean the meek are pushovers. Meek can also mean humble, quiet, and unassuming. There’s a great article in Christianity Today from 2007 that explores the meaning of the word.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
I like this one. “Ask and ye shall receive” goes for many aspects of life, not just one’s spiritual life. So, yeah, you want righteousness? You hunger for it? You got it! (Oh, and don’t get it confused with “self righteous” or “world peace.” Those are totally different things.)
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Mercy is granting clemency when it really isn’t deserved. There’s a great story somewhere (sorry, no link) about a French soldier’s mother asking for mercy for her son, who had done something that merited a pretty harsh punishment. When Napoleon pointed out that the man really didn’t deserve clemency, the mother pointed out that she was asking for mercy. Something not deserved.
This on is also one of those big Karma ones, like “What goes around comes around.” But there’s nothing supernatural about it. (I’ve known too many people the Karma bus swerved and missed to really believe in Karma.) Yet, there is some truth to the idea that we reap what we sow.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Children are good examples of this one. It’s a scientific fact that our ears learn to hear certain sounds in our own language, and we eventually lose the ability to differentiate sounds that exist in languages not our own. I think there really is something more to this beatitude that we can’t quite grasp yet… as humans, as adults, we’ve learned to live and perceive in the same way that those around us do. Perhaps, if we had learned differently, we would see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
In other words “Yeah for you guys who make peace! You rock! You really are the children of God, doing just what He’d want you to do.”
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Garbage Truck Story: I first read this on facebook, and when I googled it, I found several references. Basically, yes, there are people out there who are like garbage trucks, dumping their garbage on others. Don’t worry about them, just smile and wave and go your merry way, knowing that the kingdom of heaven awaits you.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
No way, no how are you going to get through life without someone saying something bad about you. Maybe they don’t like your faith, or your weight, or your sexual orientation, or your political views. Don’t expect the Karma bus to hit them. Maybe it will, maybe it will swerve and miss. Just shake it off. The good stuff comes later.