Blessed Are The Outcasts
3 God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Matthew 5:3-12 (NLT)
I really like the New Living Translation of the Beatitudes, because of the “more appropriate” wording is used. Such as thirsting for justice instead of righteousness.
Markarios is the Greek word used for the English word “blessed”. However, that’s not exactly what markarios means. There’s actually no precise English word for it, but “blessed” is one of the closest ones. Another good translation might be the English word “congratulations”, because it was used as a salutation when good news was brought to someone else.
For instance, if you were living in 1st century middle east and spoke Greek and your friend just informed you that he and his wife are pregnant, you would say “markarios” (or congratulations)!
This word brings a little bit of a different meaning now when we read the beatitudes, because Jesus is not only saying they are blessed because of their poverty, homelessness, or grief, but he’s actually congratulating them for it. Why? Well maybe if I reword it, then it will make more sense. Here’s my translation:
Congratulations to the homeless and jobless and those who cry themselves to sleep at night. Congratulations when the justice system fails you but you still show mercy and seek reconciliation to the point of persecution. Congratulations to you! Because you are the ones who will actually enter God’s New Kingdom first!
-Pastor Matt Translation
Now it may make more sense to why “congratulations” may be a better word to use. But it still doesn’t make complete sense. After all, He’s talking to people who are suffering! Well, we actually have another writing to compare to the beatitudes that show what 1st century Jews thought of being “blessed”.
Here’s a copy of Sirach 25:7-11. It’s a Jewish writing that was circulating around the time of Jesus of a Rabbi explaining what he thinks it means to be “blessed”.
I can think of nine whom I would call blessed,
And a tenth my tongue proclaims:
A man who can rejoice in his children;
A man who lives to see the downfall of his foes.
Happy the man who lives with a sensible wife,
And the one who does not plow with ox and ass together.
Happy is the one who does not sin with the tongue,
And the one who has not served an inferior.
Happy is the one who finds a friend,
And the one who speaks to attentive listeners.
How great is the one who finds wisdom!
But none is superior to the one who fears the Lord.
- How is this list in Sirach different from the list Jesus gave in the Beatitudes. Discuss with a group.
- Does anyone feel like Jesus is talking to you when you read the Beatitudes? Which part?
- Why don’t we like to open up and talk about our “poverty” (our desperate needs) with others?
- How can we be more open about it?
- List those who are living under the beatitudes. (homeless, refugees, social outcasts, jobless, ect…)
- What is one group of people on this list that you feel the Lord wants you to reach out to?
- How can you reach out to that group of people this week?
- Reach out to someone you know that God wants you to reach out to and meet a need of theirs. Tell them congratulations (that they are blessed).
- Reword the beatitudes in your own translation.
- If you are struggling, share your struggle.
- Do a prayer meditation on the Beatitudes. Basically, you read the passage one verse at a time, stopping between verses to prayerfully meditate on what you just read. This should take at least 15 minutes.