I want to be “blessed.” You probably do too. I often say to others, “Be blessed!”
I will say it right now to you, “Be blessed!”
The most famous usage of the word “blessed” is found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, where He uses the word nine times to begin each of the Beatitudes. You are blessed by being poor in spirit, mourning, meek, righteous, merciful, pure, a peacemaker, persecuted, and reviled.
I memorized the Beatitudes in the KJV when I was 12 and remember thinking, “Why is it a blessing to be reviled?”
I remember looking up the word reviled and found it to be something that I prefer doing to others. Which also explains why I had to learn the bit about “peacemaking” as a pastor.
Over the years I have thought about the word “revile”. I admit that my teenage fascinations still control my thoughts. Below is Matthew 5:11 in the King James Version, as that is the version that I memorized in the ‘60s (1960s not 1860s).
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
The word “revile,” in the Greek, means to upbraid, reproach, mock, insult, cast blame, and my favorite definition, showing one’s teeth! Like what our cat does when its tail is pulled by our granddaughter.
This type of behavior describes our culture today in talk shows, Presidential press briefings, social media, and in traffic when someone sits through a traffic light distracted by their mobile device.
Jesus says that we are blessed when we receive reviling, not when we give it.
Hmmmhhhhmmm. Not just blessed are you when you are reviled but all nine blessings proclaimed by Jesus are actions that most of us don’t really want. Who wants to be poor, mourn, be meek, hunger and thirst, be merciful, stay pure, be a peacemaker, allow persecution, or be reviled?
Not what the world teaches, not what our culture demonstrates, but what Jesus asks us to do as His followers.
The Kingdom of God turns upside down the kingdom of the world. What works in the world does not bring blessing in the Kingdom. What Jesus asks does bring blessing, which is why His followers, despite difficult circumstances, still find joy, while others, having wealth and influence, have no peace.
The setting of the Sermon on the Mount… was… well… a large hill called a “mount”. This mount was located beside the Sea of Galilee.
From this mount, the City of Tiberias could be seen. Tiberias was a relatively new Roman city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Tiberias had such influence that the Sea of Galilee’s name was changed to the Sea of Tiberias.
As a Roman city, it was a resort, and had all the vices and supposed pleasures of Roman culture. Those who lived in the city thought of themselves as blessed. Jesus stood on an opposite shore, and while overlooking what was supposedly blessed, turned the blessing of the world upside down.
He used Tiberias as His example for what ruins blessing.
It is a blessing to be reviled! You will not be blessed if you indulge impurity, allow anger to dictate actions, and seek revenge.
Be reviled and be blessed! And the next time someone says to you, “Be blessed,” you might want to hit them.