Blessed is good

Russell Minick Leave a Comment

When an idiom is familiar enough we don’t pay much attention to what it means, we just figure out when to use it.

“Would you like some more tea?”

“No, I’m good.”

‘I’m good’? Saying that in London could come off quite oddly. Perhaps it is a statement of superiority: ‘you can’t improve upon my already good condition, so don’t even bother’. Or maybe it is a sad confession of grammatical deprivation: ‘uh, I always get confused, ‘well’, ‘good’, ‘fine’… whatever, the shorter the better’.

But what does it mean: “I’m good”? It basically means (though I doubt it is consciously noted): “I’m blessed”. The message Jesus told his disciples when he sat them down on the mountainside began with an emphatic declaration that the most unusual mix of people and circumstances were actually ‘blessed’. The poor in spirit? They’re good. Those who mourn? They’re good. The meek? They’re good…

In Greek the word makarios means well off, in a good state. It is not something that is done to someone, as in to bless them, as much as a description of how they are. Like eating fresh vegetables, you do not get a ‘blessing’ from God for eating them. God has made it such that eating wisely is in itself blessed (good).

So does that strip the beatitudes of their spiritual dimension? Poor in spirit, mourning, meek, starving for right, merciful, pure hearted, peacemaking, picked on for loyalty to right… are all these like vegetables, just laden with passive blessing? Ultimately, no. The blessed repetitions in Matthew 5:3-10 are bookended by FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The details are unlocked further on, but essentially the ‘blessed’s/’good’s are people who find their source of life transforming hope in God. When we effectively experience that we have the ultimate reason to say: it’s fine, “I’m good.”

Matthew 5:3-10

(3) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

   (4) Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

      (5) Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

        (6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

        (7) Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

      (8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

   (9) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

(10)Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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