Matthew 5:1-12 (NRSV)
Chapter 5When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Verse 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
Verse 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Verse 4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Verse 5"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Verse 6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Verse 7"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Verse 8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Verse 9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Verse 10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Verse 11"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Verse 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Theme for this week: Praise for the experience of God’s goodness
Long before I probed its meaning, the Sermon on the Mount had a stirring effect on me. There’s a rhythm and power in the formulation itself—“Blessed, Blessed, Blessed,” nine times blessed. Placed here at the very beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, delivered from the top of an unnamed mountain, coming from the mouth of the Lord himself, it rivets the attention of the innocent listener and gives an impression of authority. It reminds me of the awe that the people of Israel had as they beheld God’s Presence on Mount Sinai. It’s like the stupefying wonder that gripped the disciples as they witnessed the transfigured Christ and heard the voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son! Listen to him!” It’s reminiscent of the worship the disciples offered the risen Christ on that unnamed mountain in Galilee. “Holy. Holy. Holy,” it says. In Christ, we are on holy ground.
Jesus, who are you?! And who are we, that we should be privileged to stand in your Presence?! Take us and hold us and teach us what it means to be so blessed. Amen.