Wow, when I started memorizing the Sermon on The Mount I didn’t have a clue where it would take me! I became intrigued with the word “blessed” and gently prodded my husband to help me use his wonderful, amazing Bible resources. What I found amazed me:
· Jesus was strategic in the use of the beatitudes. The beatitude genre was a literary hook! The essence of a beatitude was the juxtaposition of opposites. It fostered rumination. You went away thinking, “How can you put those two things in the same sentence?” And, there was life and power in every word. Jesus planted them in people’s minds and hearts to grow into lives transformed.
· Beatitudes had a long, rich tradition and therefore using that particular literary style would bring up a huge array of emotional response whether the listener was a “dyed-in-the-wool” Jew or a Hellenistic Jew or even a Greek. The Greeks also had a literary style of beatitude!
· The difference between the Jewish and Greek beatitudes: For the Greeks there was a dichotomy between the spiritual and the natural—you wanted to get out of the natural and get into the spiritual. When the Greeks started using “blessed” as a synonym for “fortunate” poets and authors quit using the word! It had become mundane and no longer communicated what they were trying to say! For the Greeks, the gods were other worldly and capricious. The Greek would be piqued to want to know how to attain that state of blessedness.
For the Jews, “Blessed” meant “God with us!” This is a God who sees injustice and does something about it, a God who makes sure your sandals don’t wear out. He provides when there is no provision; makes a way when there is no way! Rather than other worldly the Jewish God was steady and sure; in Him there was no shadow of turning--the antithesis of capricious! He made covenant and chose to live with them, provide for them emotionally, physically and spiritually, and protect them. Blessed brings up the feelings of family, belonging and inclusion, sonship and inheritance. However, what Jesus associated with blessedness turned Jewish thinking on blessedness on its ear!
Both the Jew and the Greek would be pulled in to listen; they would go away with fodder to ruminate upon. Both would have to come to acknowledge Jesus as the only way to attain the state of blessedness or write Him off as a lunatic.
In the next post we will look at the individual "blesseds"—and watch for how they rock your world!