by Pastor Emmanuel Ilagan
(Matthew 5:1-12; Luke 6:20-23)
I have a pastor-friend who tells me that whenever someone greets him with the usual “How are you?” his response is: “I am blessed! Thank you!” Although the reply may sound too religious for some of us, I believe this friend really meant what he said. It is an honest response from his believing heart.
One time Jesus sat down and preached to the crowd that followed Him. He preached about what we call the “Beatitudes”. “Beatitude” means a state of being blessed — a condition of being in God’s favor.
In reading the Beatitudes we may fall into what David Lose, pastor and author calls a “trap”; i.e. a misunderstanding that Jesus is setting up the “requirements” for receiving blessings from God. This misconception tends to be reinforced by our experiences that before we can receive a benefit we first have to work for it.
For example, as we read Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” we ask ourselves if we have conquered our pride such that we deserve to be called “meek”. But if we think our ego keeps getting in the way when we relate to other people we conclude that this particular blessing is not for us; we haven’t met its “requirement” and don’t deserve it. So we pick another beatitude from the “list”, and see if it is a better “fit” for us.
But this is not what Jesus was saying. He saw the crowds and their needs — not just the needs visible to the eye, but the needs of their heart. He saw their grief, the poverty of their spirit, their thirst for righteousness, their yearning for peace. Seeing them, He had mercy on them and He wanted to offer them God’s favor and blessings — hence the Beatitudes.
The Beatitudes are divine acts of grace and love being offered to us as disciples of Christ. They are the fruits of our faith in the Lord Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us. They are gifts from our loving God.
Dear Jesus, You know the needs of our hearts. Come and fill us with Your blessings and gifts. Amen.