At the outset of His public ministry, as Matthew records it, the Lord issued that Manifesto known as the Sermon on the Mount. In it He announced the principles which would govern the citizens of the new spiritual order He had come to inaugurate.
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The opening passage in that Manifesto Matt ; cf. Luke is a series of epigrammatic statements which are at once delineation and demand, the so-called beatitudes.
Several things about these epigrammatic statements require brief comment. For one thing, though they are expressed in a striking diction which is pithy and poetic, it is no doubt true that parallels to them can be adduced from the OT and the Talmud. This, however, does not detract from the originality of Jesus, viewing Him on a purely human plane. To abstract these insights from a mass of lit. For a second thing, the much-disputed structure of the passage deserves at least a passing glance.
Some scholars have argued that, on the analogy of the Decalogue, there are ten beatitudes; others count nine; still others have tried to reduce them to seven. Taken naturally, though, they appear to number eight, with the last one repeated for emphasis and shifting from the third to the second person. Ingenious attempts have been made to show a progressive development of thought, but such attempts smack of artificiality and contrivance. Little may be legitimately asserted, it would seem, except that these beatitudes view Christlike character from varying perspectives, emphasizing the loving righteousness which grace produces.
Centering in that theme—the loving righteousness which grace produces—these behavioral principles reveal the attitudes which ideally stamp the disciple as a disturbing non-conformist. To find any tightly articulated structure in the passage, one suspects, is to engage in eisegesis. Taking the beatitudes ad seriatum , He talks about wealthy paupers v. Thus Christ compels the merely indolent and curious to react with either serious reflection or offended withdrawal. In a sinful world, true righteousness stands on its head, despised as weakness, cowardice, and stupidity.
For another thing, the Lord offers a radical solution to the age-old problem of the summum bonum , the question which since Plato has intrigued philosophers. How does one become a beatus possidens of whatever may be the highest value?
Jesus affirms that the summum bonum is a right relationship with God and man. This right relationship, He declares, brings an experience of beatitude, an abiding happiness independent of circumstances, a deep soul-joy which is a foretaste of the heaven faith foresees. His obedient disciples are promised in superlative degree that happy life sketched in the first Psalm.
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To turn, then, to these remarkable paradoxes, notice in v. Penury, in and of itself, is plainly no cause for congratulation, though Jesus often identifies Himself with the poor people of His time as over against the rich. Neither is blessing annexed to that spiritlessness indistinguishable from a lack of energy and enthusiasm, a dragging, hangdog depression and dearth of vitality.
The poverty of which the Savior speaks is a consciousness of spiritual bankruptcy, an overwhelming sense that one is destitute of any claim to righteousness. Motivated, therefore, to beseech God for the sovereign exercise of His inexhaustible philanthropy Titus , the beggar who admits his spiritual destitution enters here and now into that all-enriching fellowship with the Father which is the deepest happiness of the kingdom.
The second beatitude in v. The mourning Jesus mentions is neither the grief of bereavement nor the sadness of nostalgic memories and forfeited opportunities.
It is not the painful regret of the lawbreaker facing condign punishment for his transgression. It is the mourning of the guilt-confessing sinner, cognizant of his disobedience and evil, the heinousness of his rebellion against God, and the sheer malignancy of his motives Luke The third beatitude v. Norman Wright. By Christine J. By Taylor Jaxon. By Joe N. By Randy Conway. By Benjamin Dadebo. By Reynier Lezcano. By Timothy Jay Alexander. By Dutch Sheets. By Pico Iyer. By Jean Smith. By Susan Knowles. By Michael Ford. By Michael W. By Morna D.
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