Arriving at a quiet place, He sat down and taught His climbing companions. This is what He said: You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. Matthew 5:1-4 The Message
This scripture begins the passages we know as The Sermon on the Mount and the list of “Beatitudes,” even though the terms are never used in the Bible. The word comes from the Latin word beātitūdō, meaning “supreme happiness.” The people were living in hard times, under the oppression of the Roman government and the burdensome weight of their own Jewish laws. Real happiness seemed to escape them.
Jesus showed them and us – how to see the worst of circumstances with a new “attitude.” He leads off with a focus on poverty and pain – poverty of the soul and the pain of loss. Yes, there was much poverty of pocket, but it was their emotional response to situations that was His concern. In the King James version of the Bible, they are beautifully referred to as “the poor in spirit.” How is your spirit today?
He then turned to “those who mourn” – and there were many. In the ancient world, the mortality rate of children was high, injuries easily became fatalities and lives of hard labor were often cut short. These people were no strangers to mourning for loved ones lost, as was Jesus. Throughout His life, we can see His heart break at the deaths of His own friends and His compassionate response to so many that came to Him with their dead or dying families. He knew their pain and of what His own impending departure would bring.
These were tough subjects for Jesus to tackle, but He never shied away from hard issues, and never left us uninspired! We will continue to discuss the beatitudes throughout this month and contemplate whether our own attitudes are what they should be.