Hi, I'm Tim Coombs, co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY and a member of the network of biblical storytellers. To learn more about its mission, go to nbsint.org.
When Jesus in the gospel of Matthew goes out to teach the people, he goes up on a mount or a hill probably, and the people gathered and he begins to teach them with the beatitudes. He says, ""Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the pure at heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are you when people persecute you and revile you and say all kinds of things against you on account of me. Rejoice and be glad, for that is the way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."" Interesting way to begin your teaching. Some think that this is Jesus who is being positioned by Matthew as sort of a new Moses. These beatitudes are likened to the ten commandments, although there's traditionally eight of them. Blessed, it means more than happy, and what Jesus is doing here is turning the world on its head, our traditional logic. The poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and things that even blessed are those when you're persecuted because God will reward you in the end. Now Luke has another version of these beatitudes, he's a little more plain and direct. It's not blessed are the poor in spirit, it's just blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. But, when we think of the beatitudes we usually accept Matthew's version because they have a beauty and a poetry of their own.