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February 14—Lent Devotional 2013

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are…’”
Matthew 5:1-3a

People who have been turning the world upside down” is how the establishment described Christians in the book of Acts (Acts 17:6). That is what the beatitudes of Jesus will do: they turn the world upside down, or rather, right side up. The beatitudes subvert conventional wisdom and upend the status quo. Jesus’ good news that God’s kingdom has come near is nothing short of world changing.

Immediately after Jesus’ baptism and temptation He began proclaiming that the long awaited Kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 4:17, 23; 5:3, 10, 19, 20; 6:10, 33; 7:21). His beatitudes describe what the Kingdom of God looks like as God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus declares the blessedness of moving from the kingdom of self to the Kingdom of God. Here is then a new person, a new creation, declaring allegiance to a totally different Kingdom. This is human life come under the gracious rule and reign of God.

Today’s text says that “when Jesus saw the crowds” He went up the mountain with His disciples. It is important to note that the beatitudes are given specifically to Jesus’ disciples, apart from the crowds. Jesus is explaining the core values of God’s kingdom to people who have heard His call, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19, 20, 22). The crowds overhearing Jesus’ instruction to His disciples “were astounded at his teaching” (Matthew 7:28).

We too might be astounded by Jesus blessing people who mourn, people who are meek, and people who are persecuted for His sake. It is precisely such people that find the Kingdom of God to be good news. The beatitudes are not the promise of wealth, health, popularity, or success, but the promise of something far greater. Jesus refuses to measure the good life by the size of our homes, TV screens, or retirement nest egg. The beatitudes turn the world right side up with Jesus’ amazing blessing for those the world might regard as left out. The genuinely blessed life is pure grace. It is the life available for us in Jesus.


God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:52-53, Mary’s Magnificat)

  • What would “the crowds” of today think it means to be blessed?
  • What would you consider the blessed life to be?
  • Do you expect God’s blessing to come from His grace or from your best efforts and merit?
  • Do you expect to be blessed by God? Why, or why not? 
  • What do you want to say to God?

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