February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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When you hear the word blessed, what do you think of? What’s the first thing that comes to mind? How do you define or interpret the word? When asked, the most common answers people gave was…
One person said, “It’s having good things either come to you or happen in your life, all from the Lord, but not always material or physical things.” Another said “Anointed, highly favored,” and another said “peace of mind.”
It’s likely one of these is at least somewhat similar to your definition. And while these are solid answers, biblically speaking this definition is both right and wrong, depending on the specific Greek word is being used.
Did you know that in English, we translate three different Greek words as blessed? This is similar to how we translate four different Greek words (agape, phileo, eros, and storge) as love. There are the words eulogétos, eulogia, and makarios.
Eulogétos is used exclusively when speaking of the Lord. It’s used to praise Him, to acknowledge that He is worthy of all praise, honor, and glory. We see it used in Ephesians 1:3, which says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Some translations say it this way: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Eulogia is the word most of us think of when we hear blessed. It’s defined as “bountiful, consecrated gift or benefit; favored” We also see this word in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed (Eulogétos) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed (eulogia: favored or gifted) us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
Makarios (which in Latin is translated as Beatitudo) is the word found in Matthew 5:1-12, in Revelation 22:14, and in Romans 4:7, and is defined as “happy, bliss, supreme joy, felicity, exalted happiness.”
So, Romans 4:7 doesn’t say, “Favored or benefited are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” It says, “Happy, supremely joyful, blissful are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
And in the same way, the Beatitudes should be read as more akin to:
“Happy, supremely joyful, blissful are the poor in spirit… those who mourn… the meek… the peacemakers…” etc.
This is important in order to fully understand the manner in which to see these 9 statements made by Jesus. Because to interpret the word as “Favored or benefited are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the merciful, etc.” would be to turn these statements into a works-based concept where God shows His favor on those who act a certain way. This is not what Jesus was saying to us. Instead, His statements speak to the posture of our heart in response to our understanding of who He is and what He has done for us. Here’s an example of the heart posture Jesus is revealing…
Happy, supremely joyful, full of bliss is the person who is poor in spirit, who understands just how unworthy he or she is of standing before a holy and perfect God and approached God in humility, asking for His mercy and salvation. Why are they happy? Because they have received God’s mercy and salvation through Jesus and not through their effort; they have been brought into His kingdom through faith in the Son of God.
As you consider each of the nine Beatitudes, look at them through this lens of happiness in response to the person and work of Jesus and not as God’s response to us for our holy or righteous attitude.
“Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be poor in spirit is like having looked in the mirror of your soul and having genuine self-awareness of just how unworthy we are of standing before a holy and perfect God, how destitute and empty and helpless and hopeless we are to earn our way into the kingdom of heaven.
“Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Theologian John Gill explained it best when he said, “Blessed are they that mourn for sin, for their own sins; the sin of their nature,” and “also for the sins of others, for the sins of the world.” This is what the Bible calls godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10). The person who doesn’t take their sinful nature lightly, who is grieved and remorseful for their sin and the sins of the world around them, who feels deeply pained by the reality of this fallen world and brings this heavy burden to Jesus will be comforted, will find rest for their weary soul, will be set free from the guilt.
“Happy are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Biblical meekness refers to exercising God’s strength under His control, with gentleness and humility. It’s understanding and respecting power because you know that true power only comes from God. And because you have this understanding, you cling to compassion rather than anger. It’s acting—and reacting—as Christ did, without harshness, responding instead with kindness, sincerity, and love.
“Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The language used by Jesus here describes intense hunger pangs, to desire earnestly; to crave ardently, to seek with eager desire. The person who has been filled by Jesus doesn’t need to look to be filled by worldly things. They don’t need to satisfy their sinful appetite, because their appetite has gradually changed as they “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
“Happy are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” God is a God of mercy. There are few things we can do to more accurately reflect the character of God and show that we are His and He lives in us than in showing mercy. In nothing does God delight more than in the exercise of mercy. But if you are an unmerciful person, can you truly belong to Jesus? Can His Spirit truly live in you?
“Happy are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” When we receive Jesus, Romans 6 tells us we’re baptized into His death and raised to walk “in newness of life.” That baptism into Christ is a heart purifying experience that we come out of free from the bonds of sin, able to finally see God. And although we see “only a reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV), we who have had our hearts purified by Christ can behold the glory of the Lord. We can see God, His hand at work in your life, we can see His sovereignty in the highs and lows, we can see His goodness, power, and love through the many ways He has revealed Himself, through creation, through nature, through food, through friends, and family, and laughter, and pain.
“Happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” The Greek word for peacemaker means “to love peace; one who bravely declares the Word of God and the harmony of God, which makes someone whole.” So, it’s not just someone who is peaceable themselves, who has the wholeness of God in them, it’s also someone who lives in a way that promotes peace with others and invokes peace in others. It’s describing the believer as they transform from peace-receiver to peace-diffuser. And now, as one Bible commentary put it, “God is thus seen reflected in them; and by the family likeness these peacemakers are recognized as the children of God.” As His Spirit begins to pour into us, He instills in us the peace of God and diffuses it into the world.
“Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” On numerous occasions, Jesus warned His disciples that we would be persecuted in some capacity for our right standing with God. Some believers will be ridiculed, some will be pressured into compromising, some will be hated simply for being believers, and some will even lose their lives in His name. But we can stand strong and assured in these three things: 1) “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), 2) “Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39 NLT), and 3) “for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:3 NLT).
As you go about your week and even month, put Jesus’ words to the test. Be intentional to display these Beatitudes in your relationship with Him, with others, and with the world. Put these words into practice, and watch your attitude, your heart posture change and your joy increase!
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”—Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)
Father, I know who I am apart from You. I know in my sinful nature, I’m wretched and wicked, unworthy to be called Your child, to be in Your presence, and to enter into Your kingdom. I know that apart from Your grace, Your Spirit that lives in me, and Your power that rests on me, I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing, and I deserve death and hell. But as Titus 3 says, when Your kindness and love appeared, You saved me, not because of who I am or anything good or righteous I had done, but because of Your mercy. You saved me through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom You poured out on me generously through Jesus Christ my Savior, so that, having been justified by Your grace, I have become an heir having the hope of eternal life. Thank You, wonderful God and Savior, for this indescribable gift. Thank You for the happiness, the supreme joy I get to experience because of what You’ve done for me and because I know You personally and get to call you Father! May I never forget this, and may this truth lead me to live like Jesus and love others like Jesus. Amen.
If you have questions you aren’t sure of, please reach out to us at CalvaryFTL.org/Questions.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.