The moment Jesus announced the Beatitudes in “the Sermon on the Mount” and began to live by them in a public manner, he was launched on a course that would inevitably lead him to Good Friday.
The Beatitudes themselves are found at Calvary. All eight of them are on full display. Here’s a famous painting of the crucifixion that Andrea Mantegna painted in 1459. It hangs in the Louvre in Paris. Just look at it for a moment.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In this scene, where do we find the poor in spirit receiving the kingdom of heaven? The thief on the cross – who at first joins in the taunts of those who are mocking Jesus, but later thinks better of it, repents, and scolds his compatriot who is being crucified with him and says, “We are receiving what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.” And then he turns to Jesus and says, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
The Greek word translated in this verse for “pure” is katharós. Elsewhere in scripture, katharós is most commonly translated as the word “clean.” I suppose the word “pure” is used in this verse because it relates to the moral quality of a person’s heart, thus “pure” sounds more appropriate. But katharós is just the ordinary word for “clean.”
“Blessed are the clean in heart…”
Think of your heart as having a window. Windows do two things. First, a window allows light to come in so that we’re not living in darkness. Second, a window also enables you to look out and see what’s going on outside.
But if the window becomes dirty with accumulated grime so that it’s almost as if it’s completely painted over, you will live in darkness and you can’t see out.
The capacity to see God has something to do with the purity of your heart. And the grime that accumulates on the window of the heart that keeps us from seeing is not just any particular sin. It’s a particular kind of sin.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [dikaiosuné], for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)
Only one Greek word per blog post. That’s a strict law that cannot be violated. And the one Greek word for the day is dikaiosuné.
It is the word in the Greek language translated as both “righteousness” and “justice.” The English language is sort of an anomaly where we take “righteousness” and “justice” and we turn them into two different concepts. Two separate words. In most languages, they’re the same word.
Now, there is a problem with the word “righteousness.” It’s a great word. But the word “righteousness” can collapse into the world of personal, private spirituality. If you say, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied,” here’s how we hear that: “Blessed are those who really, really want to be spiritual, …for they shall be really, really spiritual.”
That’s not at all what it’s saying. And the way we recover what is being said here is to use the word “justice” or, better yet, “right-ness.” “Justice” or “right-ness” sounds different in your ears than “righteousness.”