Blessed versus Happy

I am still studying Matthew, observing the movement of Jesus in relationship to community.IMG_3304 In Matthew 5, the familiar passage called the beatitudes begins. Much has been written on this section and I am certainly not qualified to discuss the theological nuances. What impresses me is the setting and the discourse that follows to his disciples, moving from a large crowd to a smaller group; moving from a needs based circumstance driven crowd to an intimate learner’s environment. Matthew 4:23-25 describes the crowd that is following Jesus and his work among them, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel, healing every disease and affliction, various diseases, pains, oppressed by demons. . . ‘and he healed them’. Now this great crowd is following him because he represents something different. He offers relief to their circumstances, pain and misery.

Chapter 5 begins with ‘Seeing the crowd, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.’  He removes himself from the emotion and tension a crowd that wants something represents. I imagine, though, it is purely speculation, that he sits where he can see them and consistent with his character, he looks on them with compassion, longing that they could see beyond their circumstance and trust him and know his father. This, much deeper than their presenting issue.  In verse 2, Jesus opens his mouth and teaches his discipline, this smaller group of intimate followers. The first word is ‘Blessed’.  That has always been a confusing word. What does it mean to be blessed? Certainly in American, we are most blessed with wealth and security compared to the rest of the world. But, that’s based on circumstances which could change and are changing every day. Determined to understand this term ‘blessed’, out comes the study tools to search for the original meaning of the word. Blessed in the Greek is makários which translates as blessed one, possessing the favor of God. It is that state of being marked by the fullness of God. It indicates the state of the believer in Christ; said of one who becomes a partaker of God’s nature through faith in Christ. So it is positional. As a believer in Jesus Christ, indwelt with the Holy Spirit because of faith in Jesus Christ this is the result. Contrasted to ‘happy’ which is based on circumstances, like the large crowd following Jesus in this account, who were looking for relief from their circumstance to be ‘happy’. Happy has to do with good fortune or based on a favorable circumstance. Blessed is equivalent to having God’s kingdom within one’s heart; in the world but not dependent on it. Satisfied because of God rather favorable circumstance[1].

Back to the scene, in Matthew 5, Jesus is observing a great crowd of followers who are seeking circumstance relief and teaching his disciples, those who follow him as believers in his work and person and stressing the difference in his first word choice. Emphasizing the difference between them and the overall makeup of the crowd. Blessed versus happy. Those of us who call the name of Christ; believers, followers, children of God, have the same dynamic or option available. We are blessed because we have Christ within. We have the fullness of God within us. Therefore, our circumstances do not determine our state of being. We are in Christ. The chaos of this world, even the chaos in each individual life of a believer does not change our blessedness. We do not have to be undermined by the world, but can stand above the circumstances and remain independent from them in our state of being, our attitudes and therefore our behaviors. We are not UNDER the circumstance unless we choose to place ourselves there. Certainly there is a place for grief and adjustment to circumstance that cause us stress but regardless of the outcome, we are blessed.

Cancer or illness . . . blessed. Loss . . .. blessed. Stressful job . . . blessed. Financial difficulties . . . blessed. Relationships gone sideways . . .blessed.

Blessed are the believers in Christ because they have the fullness of God within.

Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians 4:8

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Blessed . . .



[1]  Taken from The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Edited by S. Zodhiates, AMG Publishers, page 937.

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