Blessed are the Merciful…

Beatitudes, Justice, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Growth

As you look at the four portraits painted by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the mercy of Jesus is prominent. Jesus is merciful to sinners. He’s merciful to tax collectors. He’s merciful to prostitutes. The only people to whom Jesus was not merciful were those who were unmerciful.

In my last blog entry I broke down the 4th Beatitude.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [dikaiosuné], for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

As I pointed out, “righteousness” might be better translated as either the word “justice” or “right-ness.” So the verse can be understood this way: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for things to be made right, for they shall be satisfied.

Now, let’s combine the 4th and 5th Beatitudes and look at them together.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for things to be made right, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

When you put these two Beatitudes together, you get a deliberate echo of Micah 6:8, which is the summary of the prophetic tradition:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

So they go together. And they have to go together. Because if you do not hold the 4th and 5th Beatitude together in tension, things go awry.

What I’ve Been Reading in 2018 (first batch)

Books

My goal going into this year was to read 52 books. So far, I’m halfway to that goal – a bit ahead of pace. But I already know I won’t be doing this again next year. Every so often I find myself pushing forward too quickly rather than slowly absorbing what I’m learning.

Anyhow, I thought I’d go ahead and share a brief snippet about the 26 books I have read so far in 2018. For space reasons, I will only include the first thirteen of them in this post, and then wrap it up in a couple weeks. As you’ll see, I tend to read a lot of theological books, however, there is a little variety sprinkled in.

Nothing Else Matters

Solitude, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Growth

Somewhere along the Jordan River (probably just north of the Sea of Galilee), among a crowd of people Jesus is baptized by his famous cousin, John the Baptist. He emerges from the water and begins to pray.

And as he was praying, heaven was opened22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)

Notice to whom this statement is directed. It is not spoken to John or to the crowd. The statement is addressed to Jesus. It is spoken primarily for his benefit.

It is vitally important to understand that this event occurred at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. At this point he hasn’t yet preached a single sermon. He hasn’t yet healed a sick person. He hasn’t yet driven out a single demon. He hasn’t yet performed a single miracle. There has been no public ministry performed whatsoever.

And yet the Father gives him this amazing affirmation. “You are my Son. Whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”