“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:3-12, KJV)
The opening words of Jesus’ sermon on the mount are among the most famous of the entire speech. The beattitudes, as they are commonly called, touch on a wide range of attitudes and emotions that are necessary as we go through life. Within these words there are many things that can and should be explored, but consider for a moment one area that touches each category Jesus discussed.
He begins each statement with the term “blessed,” then follows it with a present tense statement (“are _______”). But with every statement except two (the first and last), the blessings are discussed in the future tense (“for they shall _______”). The only two that are present tense at both ends are the references to the poor in spirit (Vs. 3) and those persecuted for the sake of righteousness (Vs. 10). In each instance, he states that the kingdom of Heaven is intended for them. It is their blessing, their reward.
Yet, with every other statement, the blessings described are in the future. In a world that demands immediate satisfaction it is hard to understand a person being blessed in a time of hardship when the fullness of the blessing has not yet occurred. This is part of the depth and beauty of what Jesus said. All of the effects of what Jesus said will happen may not be seen in this life, but it does not mean they will not become reality.
Further, the understanding that the fullness of the blessing is still to come, and that it will be there, is a blessing in and of itself. The knowledge for the mourner that there will be a time when the mourning ceases; for the one who is pure in heart, that they will see God; and so on – allows them to continue on their journey with strength and confidence, blessed by the promise of the Lord.
I know today’s post has been more lengthy than usual, for that I apologize. But seeing the beauty and depth of the words of Jesus in these “beattitudes” will help us to be able to implement them in our lives, loving and yearning for the fullness of their blessings. May God bless you as you serve Him.