Happiness vs. Joy
Over the next few weeks, we will look at a section of Jesus' teachings known as the Beatitudes. This, kind of, preamble to the Sermon on the Mount, will be necessary instruction for the Disciples to understand the Ministry of Jesus, His message and what it will mean for them in this life and the one to come.
To get a context of time and circumstance, Jesus had, at this point, been baptized, been through the forty days of temptation by Satan, had His encounter with Nicodemus, witnessed to the Samaritan woman, performed at least two miracles (healing of the nobleman's son (Jn. 4:46-54) and turned the water to wine (Jn. 2:1-11)) And the first attempt to take His life had been committed (Lk.4:16-31). The word of Jesus performing miracles, and the message He preached had fallen in perfect time with John the Baptist's message of the Kingdom being "At hand", and had spread throughout the land of Galilee to an audience of poor, rural Jews who where desperately awaiting the Messiah who would reign over the Jews and deliver them from the heavy hand of the religious machine and the Roman occupation who had comfortably found a ground they could stand together on, while supporting their posh lifestyle on the backs of the working class Jews.
So, it can be reasoned that, Jesus looked at the large crowds who where following them and then looked at the twelve Disciples, who He had chosen not long ago, and perceived that they needed to hear what this is all about. They needed to know that the large crowds would, in time, turn to angry lynch mobs that would hunt them down and kill them for the movement they had become such a huge part of. They needed to know that the adoring fans they saw today stretched across the hill to get a glimpse of this new movement, like the disciples, didn't understand the big picture. They needed to know that their craving for power, money and prestige would not be promised by The Gospel-at least not in an earthly sense.
It was time. It was time that, the twelve who would be entrusted with the Treasure that is The Gospel would start to see the "big picture". I can only imagine the look on the face of the Disciples as Jesus motioned them away from the crowd of people off to a secluded place where He could talk to them intimately. I can imagine the disciple faces as the moved in and sat down under the Wonderful Counselor. I imagine them picking at one another, excited to hear what lay in store. Here comes our pep rally, here comes the promises, come on, tell us about our power, our prestige, about the endless comforts and spoils we will enjoy in Your Kingdom, after all, we are the chosen...chosen to be in Your counsel. These men where men, not yet endowed with the Holy Spirit, and at that, where mostly poor, working class, rough-neck fishermen. So, safe speculation would say that the thought of earthly power would be overwhelming, especially since most still thought The Promised Messiah would deliver them from Roman occupation. What kind of prestige would that be, a lowly fisherman being involved in the revelution that would free their Jewish brothers and sisters! But they are about to find out that the promise is bigger than they can imagine, and will be accomplished in ways that will run opposite of human understanding-with peaceful desire!
How many times does it happen to us? How many times does God put the answer to life's problems right in front of our face, but we can't see it because it doesn't look like we think it should, or how we have already decided it would look? How many complex situations do we face that can be thwarted and put to bed by simple and correct application of God's simple instruction?
The Disciples are about to begin learning a very big lesson. That God doesn't deal with problems on man's terms. That God sees prosperity and royalty and power and regard on an eternal scale, with eternal application and eternal consequence.
So, I can only imagine the smiles and excitement turning to deep thought and, maybe even regret, as Jesus starts to explain to them, the eternal application of "Blessed". This doesn't sound like "blessed", this isn't my definition of "blessed" but "blessed", they will eternally be!(except one) The message, as all of His, is timeless. When we pray for blessings, we should be careful to remember God's definition of "Blessed" and remember, they are the blessings of a perfect, eternal-minded, loving, all knowing Mighty God. God, who defines on His perfect terms, through His perfect vision. This is the essence of the Beatitudes.
Hope to see you next time when we will explore the Blessing of a poor spirit,
Until then, God Bless
From The Back Pew!