Week 6 – Beatitudes

November 9, 2009

In general, each of the beatitudes follow this format:

Blessed are —- for —–

What is interesting to note is that these beatitudes are actually in passive voice. (I wish I knew more grammar to describe what I’m saying accurately) Anytime a sentence is in passive voice, we can infer that there is another object or person that is doing the action, that is a ‘demoted direct object’, that can be reinserted at the end using the preposition of ‘by’. For example: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted, ‘by God’. Even for the few beatitudes that do not seem to work using this preposition, we see that the active object is God. God is the one who gives the kingdom of heaven to the poor in spirit, and so on.

So using this passive voice (disclaimer: okay, so i don’t know biblical greek… but from what i’m told, the grammatical structure of beatitudes in particular are pretty accurate in the English translations), the attentive audience may very well wonder why God is missing in these beatitudes, one of the most influential sermons by Jesus, and in fact the whole history. After all, in the old testament, when Yahweh gave the Jewish people the law or when He sent them the prophets, he repeatedly emphasized that the whole reason for these laws was Himself. ‘Be holy for I am holy.’ So why does Jesus, who is laying out what appears to be another set of rules for moral conduct, leave God out?

The answer is that God was there: Jesus was standing right there besides them, in front of their eyes. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of heaven, whose King was standing in front of them. This immediacy meant that the Beatitudes were not just another set of rules anymore; for all the rules that came before, and indeed the ones that were to come afterward, predicated on the God who commanded from afar, passing cold judgment unsympathetically. But these rules were given by a God who was right there, both sympathetic to our weaknesses, and able to strength us. These rules were not just rules anymore but a description of a life being transformed by grace. These rules were not a system of rewards and punishment but a promise that He who started the work will finish it. These rules were the proclamation of a new kingdom whose king is willing to die for its lowly subjects. And that is why it is all the more beautiful; that is why they are called the beatitudes – not because of the blessings, but because of the beauty of the One who blesses.

Edit: You know what? i lied. i don’t think i heard this from that revival or a former pastor. i wonder where i got it from. hmm…

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