Blessed by God

One of the most well-known passages in Matthew’s gospel, even the whole New Testament, is chapters 5-7 in which the former tax collector recorded the so-called Sermon on the Mount. Because of Jesus’ miracles, His fame spread, and multitudes followed Him from all over looking to be healed of their afflictions (4:23-25). This following also presented Jesus an opportunity to teach them. In fact, when He saw the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and after being seated, He taught His disciples (5:1-2). Evidently, some of the people from the multitudes also showed up and listened because at the end of the sermon we read, “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (7:28-29).
Jesus began the sermon with some pithy sayings known as beatitudes (5:3). These sayings describe people as “blessed” who either possess a certain attribute, characteristically exhibit a certain behavior, or undergo certain treatment. This state of being “blessed” is not earned by doing these actions or developing these attitudes. Rather these are descriptions of people who have already been blessed by God. His blessing leads to these actions, attitudes, and ill treatment. In fact, Gingrich’s Greek lexicon defines the word: “blessed, fortunate, happy usually in the sense of privileged recipient of divine favor.” It is because we have been blessed by God that we can live in these ways. This favor of God is also seen in the glorious future we can expect as participants in the coming kingdom of God.