Lenten Devotional // Day 13

Wednesday, March 16
HAPPY? by Amy Sanders

Matthew 5:1-12
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up a mountain. He sat down and his disciples came to him. He taught them, saying:
“Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.
“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.
“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.
“Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.
“Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.
“Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.
“Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.

If you don’t immediately recognize today’s scripture, just swap “happy are…” with “blessed are”, and the light bulb might go off. As part of Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, this scripture is traditionally known as The Beatitudes (from the Latin beatitudo which translates to “blessed”).

While this scripture may have become popular with the Sunday School crowd due to the relative ease of memorization, it requires careful reading--it reads more like a series of riddles than it does straightforward, practical teaching! What is Jesus getting at?

The Beatitudes reads very much like a poem in which each phrase has two parts: the first part lists a character trait that the ideal Christian possesses (the humble, pure-hearted, peacemakers, etc.), and the second part lists a blessing that Christians are promised (we will be fed, comforted, shown mercy, see God, and inherit the Earth).

I often get stuck thinking about how short I come up when measured against those ideals Jesus taught - to be meek, humble, pure-hearted, peacemakers - but I find hope in the promise Jesus made us that we will receive the kingdom of heaven.

Question for Contemplation
As you read through the Beatitudes, which line challenges you the most?

Merciful God, thank you for sending Jesus and his teachings, and for giving us the ultimate guidebook for living life to the fullest, rather than leave us adrift in a world that plays by its own set of rules. Help us find the time, space, and energy to study your teachings and live them out in our daily lives. Amen.

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