The beatitudes are at the very core of Jesus’ inaugural teaching in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
They are more than an explanation of principle, or a set of ethics and certainly greater than a list of pious platitudes; they are a declaration of a person. St. Bernard referred to them as a “veiled autobiography of the character of Jesus.”
Others have commented on them as the:
• Constitution of the Kingdom of God.
• Jesus’ distillation of the entire Hebrew prophetic tradition.
• Magna Carta of the Christian faith and
• Manifesto of Christ’s alternative society.
Jesus is not merely telling us how to be Christian, but how to be human. Jesus is not only speaking as Head of the church, but as Creator of humanity.
Jesus called his disciples to follow and learn from him. We think of learning in the form of the acquisition of information or facts, but Rabbi’s like Jesus made it a lifestyle…an internship within the affairs of everyday life.
Christ’s discipleship was the result of an accessible life…his students were eye-witnesses called upon to emulate, simulate, mimic and imitate his thoughts, words and deeds. Are you a disciple of Jesus?
No one goes sadly or reluctantly into discipleship with Jesus. No one goes in bemoaning the cost. They understand the opportunity. -Dallas Willard
Daily discipleship is to be an ongoing experience of the cross and resurrection.
The beatitudes are the Cross and Resurrection transposed into the life of discipleship.
The first half focuses on the crucifixion, where each “blessed are they ____” gives us the character and fruit of the company of the crucified–specifically crucified to the demands and dictates of the ego.
The second half focuses on the resurrection, where each “they will be _____” shows us a very real description of what Jesus produces in those transfigured by his resurrection and life…participation in the divine nature that changes us from glory to glory.
What does it look like to take up the cross and follow me? It looks like the sermon on the mount. His sermon pushes buttons, plows the soil of your heart and plants new seeds of life. This sermon will kill you then fill you. It is Jesus’ call to discipleship.
Jesus never speaks about the cross as a sit back and watch me die for you. No he talks about the cross as pick up yours and follow me…die with me. Jesus did not die instead of you – it is an invitation for you to die with him and be raised with him.
Blessed are…is better translated as “divine life” or from the classical Greek, the life of the gods…the divine enablement to walk in the Spirit, live by faith, and love by commandment. Jesus is showing us a new way of being human.
Thanks to Bishop Malcolm Smith, Thomas Watson, Brad Jersak, Chuck Swindoll, Brian Zahnd, and a few others for their research and development of Jesus’ words that help me draft these notes. The beatitudes are being adopted as the Core Virtues of our lives and our ministry here in Aurora, Colorado.