October 6, 2023

JD Wilhelm
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:3-5

The Beatitudes may be the most counterintuitive group of sayings one can find anywhere. They appear to be the opposite of common wisdom. Here, Jesus reverses the general value system of the world. The Beatitudes are not to be understood as practical advice for successful living but as prophetic declarations about the coming and already present kingdom of God. That being said, they declare an objective reality, not subjective feelings. These statements are declarations of blessedness oriented toward the future reality of God’s Kingdom, but also issue a call to decision here and now. In other words, they don’t merely describe something that already exists but bring into reality that which they declare.

Those who are pronounced blessed are not those who possess a robust ego but those whose identity is in God. Their identity is not in what they know but in having a certain poverty in spirit. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn lament the fact that God’s Kingdom has not yet come and His will is not yet done. These are those who will be comforted. Meekness is not a particular attitude that we are to adopt but refers to those who are aware of their identity as the people of God who renounce the power structures of the world. They will inherit the earth. In these sayings lies no strategy for worldly success. In the Beatitudes, there are two verbs: are and will. Each begins in the present tense and then points to a future reality. The present tense points to those things which should be true about the Christian community. The future tense indicates that these promises will not come to bear until God finishes the new creation. The Christian faith is a way of living now that is based on a firm and sure hope that God is faithful to fulfill His promises in the future.