Happy According to Jesus
In Matthew 5 we have the opening lines of Jesus’ famous Sermon the Mount, one of Jesus most famous sermons one of the most famous of all sermons. 8 positive statements about happiness called the beatitudes. Of all the subjects Jesus could have chosen to speak on when he started the Sermon on the Mount He chose the subject How to Be Happy. Why? Because He knew that was what everybody was searching for but very few people find it.
- Matthew 5: 3-12 is commonly referred to as “The Beatitudes.”
- Each of the nine “Beatitudes” begins with the word “happy” or “blessed.”
Each of these begins with the word “happy or blessed”. makarios – Greek . The word “blessed” is an Old English word. It simply means “happy”. He says “Happy are you if you’re poor in spirit for yours is the kingdom of heaven… Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted … Happy are the meek for they will inherit the earth … Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled … Happy are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Happy are the pure in heart for they will see God. Happy are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God. Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- What Jesus says seems to be a contradiction.
The thought that genuine joy and satisfaction comes from being poor in anything is diametrically opposed to the conventional wisdom of today’s culture. In the minds of those who have bought into the world’s way of thinking, verse 3 ought to read “Blessed are the rich, the famous, the powerful, the movers and shakers, the important, the aggressive, the self-reliant, the self-confident, the glamorous…” In today’s world, being “poor in spirit” is equated with being depressed, weak, timid, and passive. Everyone knows that this is not the way to get ahead. This is not the way to attain “happiness.”
When you read those things, does that sound like contradictions? Happy if you’re sad… happy if you’re poor … happy if you’re put down and persecuted! That does not sound like happiness to me. Jesus was saying that you can learn to be happy in spite of your circumstances. If you have to have all of your problems solved before you become happy, will you ever be happy? No. If you have to have everything perfect in your life before you’re happy, will you be happy? No.
- Jesus shows me that happiness is not determined by external circumstances but by my internal
The popular idea of happiness is having the right circumstances. But God’s way to happiness is having the right attitude.
My happiness is not determined by what’s happening around me, but rather by what’s happening in me.
Happiness is a choice. You choose the right attitudes. Basically right now, whether you’re happy or sad, or somewhere in between, you’re about as happy as you choose to be. Life is tough. There are a lot of things that don’t go right and don’t go your way in life. Happiness depends on choosing the right attitudes.
For the last nine weeks we’re going to look at these Beatitudes of How to be Happy.
What are we to make of such Kingdom Attitudes that sound like a six string guitar with one string broken?
J.B. Phillips paraphrased the Beatitudes as the non-Christian world would prefer them, and perhaps the Christian world too.
- Happy are the “pushers”: for they get on in the world.
- Happy are the “hard-boiled”: for they never let life hurt them.
- Happy are they who complain: for they get their own way in the end.
- Happy are the blase: for they never worry over their sins.
- Happy are the slave-drivers: for they get results.
- Happy are the knowledgeable men of the world: for they know their way around.
- Happy are the trouble-makers: for they make people take notice of them.
The Teacher from Nazareth offers a better way: Matthew 5:3-12.
I’m not going to pretend that the Beatitudes are easy to live. Perhaps that is our problem … we’ve made the Christian life easy to live, you know just go to church and pray, that’s all there is to it. Maybe that’s why the Beatitudes sound so strange and foreign to our ears.
The Beatitudes – How to Be Happy According to Jesus
Recognizing My Inadequacy – The Truth About Me
We have come to the end of the statements of blessing often called the Beatitudes that begin the Sermon on the Mount. The first four Beatitudes focus on discovering on how inadequate we are as human beings in rebellion against God. We are poor in spirit, we mourn for our sinfulness and poverty, we have no basis for defending this poverty of ours, hungry and thirsty for righteousness. These statements are a dethroning of self in our lives. Our best efforts don’t work.
Letting God Change Me
The next three Beatitudes describe a life that, because of the recognition of our inadequacy, is able to center itself on the living God. Mercy from God extends through the life of a believer to other people. Seeing God leads to purity of heart, which leads to increasing perception of God and to increasing purity of heart. And an identity as a son of God offers the possibility of being a peacemaker in the world, which reinforces our identity as a child of God, which in turn reinforces the opportunity to offer the peace of Christ to a world that needs him. Dethroning ourselves leads to enthroning the Lord God at the center of our lives.
If we were writing the script, at this point I’m sure we would say, “…And the peacemakers, giving away life in Christ wherever they go, are widely approved of and cheered on in their efforts to do good to one and all.” But what comes next is exactly the opposite. It is not widespread approval of the God-centered peacemaker, pure in heart, and merciful that we come to now, but their persecution. Matthew 5:10-16:
Blessed or Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed or Happy are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This last Beatitude is the only one that is explained or intensified. And all of the others are stated in third person only, while in this one the Lord goes on to say directly to these disciples who are sitting in front of him on this mountainside, “Blessed are you….” In doing this he means, “Pay attention to this and understand what it is going to mean to you in your experience.