#3 by Ilya Khoteev

My friend Pastor Dean Grier got me thinking about today’s gospel (Mt. 5:1-12, the beatitudes).

Nearly every Christian (and many who aren’t) is familiar enough with this passage they could make up a likely sounding version from their head with just the prompt “blessed are the…..”

I would be willing to hazard that only a very small portion of those have ever stopped to wonder, however, why Jesus, who is on a roll describing all kinds of unexpectedly blessed people (the meek, the mourning, the poor in spirit, etc.) suddenly switches pronouns for his final beatitude.

It’s easy to see in the English and even clearer in the Greek; “Blessed are those/the…” begins every one of Jesus statements in this section but the last. Here’s my thoughts on one reason why he might have done it. Immediacy.

Let me explain:

Imagine yourself standing around in the open with a crowd a ways out from town. All of you had come out to see what the new celebrity Jesus was about and if what he said was really true.

As Jesus began to say “Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are those who mourn…,” someone might of thought “Really, that’s me he’s talking about. Am I really blessed because of that, because it sure doesn’t feel like it.”

But what if you didn’t. What if, as Jesus started to go down his checklist, your eyes started to glaze over and you tuned out because nothing applied. Or worse, what if you listened and said, “Nope, I’ve had it pretty good honestly, and now he’s telling me I don’t get blessed. What’s the deal?

You might just start thinking about how far it is to the nearest decent fish and chips. Unless of course, Jesus, reading his context, was able to simultaneously sum up all he had just said and bring it around to become meaningful to every person there.

If Jesus really was as big a deal as the gospels make out, incredulous friends and neighbors would be almost certain to accost those who were there after they discovered it. And Jesus knew it would be very simple to just back off when pressed (even if they’d been digging on what Jesus had to say in the first place) if it was all about someone else.

But instead, Jesus made a point to draw everyone there into the story and challenge and reassure them. “Yes, you are and will be blessed. Yes, you can take it.”

Contextual theologians in Asia have called this Minjung (People’s) theology, an understanding that theology is about God but belongs to the people. The best proclaimers actively harness this just like Jesus and take Bible/preaching/teaching/serving/fill-in-the-blank actively from learning about to participating in.

And that is the simple brilliance of all those thoses. They set up the finale that gathers everyone in and says “You are part of this story too, and your role is not yet done.”