This is a companion, follow-up piece to Thursday’s post on… theHeartSeekerblog. wordpress.com…
“Blessed are…” (Jesus – Matthew 5)
In yesterday’s post in “The Red-Letters,” we talked about being blessed – and approached Jesus’ teaching from a Hebrew perspective. Sometimes we can forget that Jesus moved and ministered amongst God’s chosen people, the Jews – who were well-versed in Jewish tradition and terminology. It is most likely that Jesus’ talks were saturated with Hebrew words, connotations, and meanings.
So it is appropriate to draw our understanding of Jesus’ teachings from what He intended His original listeners to understand. When it comes to the whole idea of “blessed” (the central concept of the Beatitudes) the picture from the Hebrew is vivid and accurate to what Jesus wants us to know. We are “blessed” because we have come under God’s tent and experience His abundant goodness.
Many scholars (who study such things) believe that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew (later to be transcribed into Greek). This makes sense considering that Matthew’s gospel is directed to the Jewish people – seeking to make the case that Jesus IS the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.
But for those who study your New Testaments and notice that “blessed” comes from a Greek word (makarios), I thought it might be beneficial to look at “blessed” as it is understood from the Greek word…
Makarios means happy or blissful – but implies a self-contained happiness. To understand “makarios” we need to understand its background.
Off the coast of modern-day Turkey, is the Island of Cyprus.
At the time of Christ, it was known as “the happy isle.” This was because (as I understand it) the Greeks believed that everything that was good and enjoyable in life was represented on Cyprus. It had a wonderful climate and fertile soil – that yielded some of the best produce in the region. It came to be accepted that anyone who lived on Cyprus knew the best that life could possibly offer. In short, to live on Cyprus was symbolic of happiness – because everything one needed to be happy was there. Those who lived in such a place were called “makarios” = blessed!
This whole idea fits well within our Hebrew notion of “blessed” in that happiness is not dependent on our external circumstances, but rather on where we ARE. Our condition is based on our position – being in the place where blessing is a state, not some thing to be obtained by our virtue, good fortune, or efforts.
This is exactly what Jesus meant when He talked about being “blessed.” We are in a state of “blessedness” because we are IN God’s Family – because we have responded to God’s invitation to live IN His Household (because of what Jesus has done!).