“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed…’” – Matthew 5:2 (and the first word of 3) (ESV)
I am so excited! This Saturday I will begin an earnest, long, deep study of the Sermon on the Mount. I am gathering research material and preparing my heart to hear what God has to say in these three amazing chapters of Matthew. The fact is that the core – the very heart and definition – of Christianity is contained in these passages. I have always been intrigued by the structure of these chapters, how they build in blocks on one another (the Beatitudes forming a foundation to build upon). I am quite eager to dig deeper.
Tonight, as I was reading John Wesley’s notes on the gospel of Matthew, something struck me. He writes that “to bless men, to make men happy, was the great business for which our Lord came into the world” (Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, p.17). In 1755, when Wesley wrote this, I’m not sure that happiness meant quite the same thing it does today, with our modern preoccupation with comfort.
But Christ surely came to bless us with unspeakable joy and amazing grace and boundless love. It is beautiful to find that Jesus began laying out the foundation of what it means to be a Christian by teaching us who is blessed (and, by implication, who is not – even though, by the world’s terms, it would appear Christ got it backwards).
Blessed indeed we all are who follow Jesus Christ. Blessed in ways we cannot even imagine. Blessed in ways the world cannot see. Blessed in the truest sense of the word.
Sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and he is to be held in awe above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place. – 1 Chronicles 16:23-27 (ESV)