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July 2011

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The beatitudes describe the life of the King and therefore the life of the kingdom.  They begin and end speaking of who the kingdom “belongs” to – the poor in spirit (v3) and the persecuted (v10).  And in between there seems to be a progression.  We might imagine a story going something like this: I […]

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God

To be the child of a great ruler is an incredible privilege.  Others can grab precious minutes with your father if they are very important.  But you, without any of their qualifications, belong at the very heart of power. Others will call him King or President, you will call him Daddy.  And, if it’s a hereditary […]

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God

– I see through you. – My eyes are open. – I long to see the world. If a person has experienced their fair share of impurity we might say they’ve “seen it all.”  On the other hand, we call the naive person “blinkered”:  “Those innocents – bless ’em – they’re blind to real life.”  We imagine that the person with a […]

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

We all know the sayings: —  Credit where none is due. —  Don’t get mad, get reconciled. —  God helps those who are helpless themselves. —  Every lunch is a free lunch. —  It’s a dog help dog world. —  Survival of the feeblest… Alright I made those ones up. But if they sound ridiculous, […]

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled

—  Righteousness – the goodness of God. —  Righteousness – the blessed life in action. —  Righteousness – setting the world to rights. When seen in its true light, righteousness is incredibly attractive.  And incredibly elusive. From its first mention in the bible, “righteousness” is a consuming passion.  In Genesis 15, Abraham is taken outside […]

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

In The Life of Brian we join the outskirts of Christ’s audience for the sermon on the mount.  “The meek shall inherit the earth” filters through to one listener: “Oh that’s nice innit, I’m glad they get something cos they have a hell of a time.” It’s a brilliant line.  But Jesus isn’t throwing out a […]

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted

What could be more nonsensical than this?  Or insensitive?  “Blessed are they that mourn”? In my Greek lexicons the word that invariably appears next to “Blessed” is “Happy”.  It’s a word denoting a prosperous and favourble condition.  Some dictionaries list “blissful” as a synonym!  So how on earth can Jesus call mourners “blessed”? Well it’s […]

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

According to Matthew, Jesus comes as King to bring the true end to exile (Matthew 1:1-17).   He is named as “Saviour” and “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25).  He is the desire of all nations (Matthew 2:1-12) who is also the true Israel – going down into Egypt and rising back up again (Matthew 2:13-23).  He […]

Verily, verily I say unto thee

It’s a phrase that sounds quintessentially “King James” – quintessentially 17th century.  But as with so many “King James” phrases, it originates with Tyndale in the 16th century. “Verily” (meaning truly) translates the word “Amen” which is a Hebrew word left untranslated in the Greek New Testament.  So, most literally, Jesus says “Amen, Amen I […]

Physician heal thyself

The chain-smoker warning her son about cigarettes… The  bankrupt lecturing on good business practices… The church riddled with divorce, preaching ‘family values’ to the culture… In all these situations we might use this saying: “Physician heal thyself.”  We expect that those promoting healing powers should be the best advertisements for their cure.  Well what about […]