Do You Have Jesus’ Roadmap For The Blessed Life?

Do you want to be blessed? If you’re anything like me, you probably think that’s a silly question to ask. Surely everybody wants to be blessed. Very few people would decline the offer of blessing. It’s instinctive for us to seek fortune, rather than misfortune. However, while we desire blessing, very few of us ever find it.

Most of us have some kind of plan to find blessing. The plan usually involves working as hard as we can, to earn as much money as possible. We reason that if our bank accounts are full, we will secure a safe and comfortable life, avoiding sadness and struggle. Thus our plans to find blessing also usually involve aiming at achievement. We do everything in our power to make sure others think well of and respect us. So we associate money and status with blessing.

What if the reason we can’t find true blessing is that we are looking in the wrong direction?

So, if I asked you to write a list of the most blessed people on earth, whose names would you include? I imagine Bill Gates and Elon Musk, powerful businessmen and billionaires, would make the list. The sporting greats, famous musicians, and Hollywood stars would likely also make the cut. However, what if those we admire are not the truly blessed? What if the reason we can’t find true blessing is that we are looking in the wrong direction?

Jesus Preached About the Blessed Life

This seems to be the unavoidable conclusion to reading Matthew 5:1-12. At this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was gaining in popularity. His healing miracles had resulted in many new followers. As he looked over the attentive crowds, Jesus challenged their understanding of true blessing. His words were completely radical. In fact, they weren’t merely counter-cultural, but even repulsive.

Jesus gives us a roadmap to the truly blessed life.

In his famous sermon, Jesus gives us a roadmap to the truly blessed life. Eight times he introduces an aspect of the blessed life. He gives them using the form of a beatitude, using the phrase “Blessed are…” The Greek word for blessed here, makarios, means happy, fortunate, favoured, and envied. To be blessed does not necessarily mean that you feel happy. Although feeling happy is often a part of being blessed, it’s more about finding oneself in a happy situation, living the ‘good life.’

What is the Good Life Jesus Teaches About?

According to Jesus, certain things must be true of you if you’re going to be blessed. You must be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), humble (Matthew 5:5), merciful (Matthew 5:7), pure in heart (Matthew 5:8), and a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9). Your life must also be marked by a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), as well as being willing to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake (Matthew 5:10-12). Thus blessing does not preclude mourning (Matthew 5:4).

The people Jesus describes appear weak, dependent, and oppressed.

How can Jesus say these things lead to or mark the blessed life? We might agree that they are good character traits to strive for. But we don’t usually consider people who live this way to be blessed. And we certainly don’t envy them. For the people Jesus describes appear weak, dependent, and oppressed, those society generally overlooks. Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t just describe those who are blessed. He goes on to explain why this is the good life. As he unpacks each beatitude, Jesus draws attention to the reward that such living brings.

Four Heart Attitudes that Result in Blessing

In the first half of the beatitudes, Jesus focuses on four attitudes that result in blessing. Firstly, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:3). To be poor in spirit means that you recognise your spiritual poverty. You recognise your inability to come to God based on your own effort. Those who come to God with such a spirit have the incredible blessing of being citizens of God’s forever kingdom.

Secondly, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). This kind of mourning is a deep sadness over the brokenness of our broken world. Those who mourn over sin and its effects are blessed. They have hope and comfort, knowing that our world will not always be bound by sin. One day king Jesus will return to restore all things.

The humble patiently trust God to fulfil his promises.

The third attitude Jesus highlights is that of humility. He says, “Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). The humble are free from the need to push to get their own way in life. Instead they patiently trust God to fulfil His promises. Those with a humble spirit will one day rule the world with Christ! The whole earth will belong to them. This is their reward and this is why they are considered blessed (Matthew 5:5; Revelation 3:21).

The fourth heart attitude that leads to blessing is that of a deep desire for justice. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Those who desire righteousness are blessed because God promises to completely satisfy these desires (Matthew 5:6). They know that in God’s eternal kingdom justice will reign and they will get to share in this righteousness (Romans 14:17).

Four Right Actions that Result in Blessing

In the second half of the beatitudes Jesus focuses on four actions that lead to blessing. Firstly, he says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The merciful care for the hurting and the vulnerable and seek to show compassion wherever possible. They treat others better than they deserve to be treated and accordingly, God promises that he will show them mercy in return.

Secondly, Jesus continues by saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). The pure in heart are those who have an undivided love for God. They put God first in all things, allowing him to transform them. They seek to live lives free from sin and God promises that as a result they will see God. This blessing is the most remarkable! Even Moses was unable to see God and yet those who follow Jesus’ pattern for blessing will have the joy of an intimate relationship with God that Moses could never have imagined (Exodus 33:19-20).

Being a member of God’s kingdom is the foundation from which all the other blessings flow.

Thirdly, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). The blessing described here is that of belonging to God. He is their father and they are his children. As they strive to be an agent of peace in the world, they reflect the family likeness for it is God who first initiated peace with us.

In the final beatitude Jesus comes full circle. He says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:10). How can such hardship bring blessing? Jesus explains that true followers of God have always experienced trouble so when a person faces persecution it ought to encourage (Matthew 5:11-12). It is evidence that they are part of God’s kingdom. The beatitudes start and end with the same blessing: being a member of God’s kingdom. This is the foundation from which all the other blessings flow.

There is no True Blessing Apart from Christ

As you read the beatitudes, you may become discouraged. You might think to yourself: ‘If this is the way to blessing then it will always be outside of my grasp.’ And you’d be right! In and of ourselves, it’s impossible to have right heart attitudes and right actions. Jesus is the only person who ever lived up to this standard. Jesus is the only one who deserves true blessing. The only way that these blessings become ours is through association with him, by faith in him.

True blessing starts with coming to Jesus. Just before this sermon Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). If you want the blessings of the kingdom, you must first repent of your sins. You must own your inability to live under God’s rule, recognising Jesus as the king of God’s kingdom and therefore your life.

Trust Jesus’ promise. Seek first his kingdom and all these things will be given to you.

Which is better? The blessings of fame, fortune and wealth which although exciting are temporary and will one day fade? But Jesus offers us eternal blessings. In the present he assures and comforts us, while pointing to God’s kingdom. Then we will see God face to face. Then God will comfort all our hurts and meet our longings for justice. Trust Jesus’ promise. Seek first his kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).