We often read Jesus’s intro to the Sermon on the Mount as a list of things that you must do in order to be blessed but what if that wasn’t Jesus’s intention at all?
Our cultural mindsets are very geared for a transactional lens in which to view the scriptures. If we do ____________, God will give us ____________.
It’s so easy to read through the Beattitudes with just this filter but what if Jesus wasn’t offering conditions for a blessing and instead was proclaiming who was already blessed?
If you have been following us through Jesus’s longest and most famous sermon, you’ve already noticed that the Beattitudes seem to be directed at 2 different audience…us before God and us before others.
Being poor in spirit, meek, in mourning and hungering and thirsting for righteousness all seem to indicate a posture before God, though they also can demonstrate our posture towards others. Being merciful, a peacemaker and the object of persecution seem to point to our relationship with others.
What if Jesus wasn’t saying that we have to be meek if we want to inherit the earth but instead was saying that those who are meek are already inheriting it? In other words, what if Jesus is announcing the fulfillment of the blessing instead of the thing you have to do if you want to get the blessing. Would that change how we read this passage?
Transactional thinking almost always messes up the way we read the Bible because we approach with the expectation of what we want rather than what God wants. No doubt our wants are sometimes aligned with God’s but what if they aren’t?
Jesus seemed to be moving in this direction later in His sermon when he said:
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. -Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
If there was a transaction, it may more correctly look like seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all the good stuff happens.
In other words, doing good is it’s own blessing.
Does this make you more frustrated or less? Are you disappointed at the possibility that the Kingdom doesn’t work in the way we like to work? I’ll do ___________ in order to get ____________?
I imagine for the poor in spirit, the meek, the pure in heart; this gives much hope and perhaps this was the point Jesus was trying to make.
Perhaps our greatest opportunity for the blessing is not to think of the blessing at all and instead we just focus on the things that really matter. Loving God and loving people, or as Jesus put it, seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness and everything else will fall into place.