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.