French mathematician Blaise Pascal famously said that:
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves. (Pensées, Loc. 2049)
Every person makes a lifelong endeavor to find happiness. Our pursuit for pleasure is ingrained within the fabric of our souls. And in Western society in particular, pleasure and happiness is embodied in the cultural idols of materialism, sex, and individualism – much to which the inhabitants of Western countries have an abundance of. Yet, research often shows that anxiety and depression is far more prevalent within the vast population of pleasure seekers in the West than anywhere else in the world. The culturally-defined virtues for happiness are leaving us more disappointed and unhappy than ever. Our souls yearn for the utter fulfillment of our desires that it cannot find in a desolate world. Is it possible to find true and lasting happiness?
It is in this context where the simplicity and profundity of Jesus’s message of the kingdom in Matthew 5 shines most fervently. With the disciples and the crowds gathered at his feet, Jesus pronounces a series of statements that describe the principal marks and the divine blessings of a true citizen of God’s kingdom. These statements are known as the Beatitudes, which are derived from the Latin word ‘beatus,’ which means ‘happiness’ or ‘blessedness.’
Those who truly repent of their rebellion and sin against God and believe in the sufficiency of Christ’s saving work, will have immediate access to the everlasting kingdom’s greatest forms of blessings: divine citizenship, earth ownership, satisfied righteousness, mercy, a vision of God, and adoption into His family. All genuine believers enjoy the foretaste of these blessings and will experience them in its fullness at the return of Christ’s coming and the full consummation of His kingdom.
These Beatitudes embody what true happiness really looks like for the disciples of Jesus. But although the sermon was primarily addressed to his disciples, Jesus also preached and taught it to the crowds up on the mountain (see Matthew 5:1). This means that on top of declaring the multi-faceted joys and happiness that a redeemed believer will experience, these glorious statements are also an invitation to the skeptics, the searchers, the curious, and especially the pleasure-seekers who are searching for answers to their unceasing hunger for lasting happiness. It is the great hope that our world needs and it is Christ’s intention that these eight blessings will awaken desires in a person’s heart to pursue him as their greatest treasure.
Big thanks to Darren Zheng, Anthony Lee, Justin Fang and Sophia Chan for writing their contributions to this series. And special thanks to Lee-Ann Chen for editing all the articles!
Click the links below to have a thorough read through all the 8 Beatitudes!
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven – written by John Le
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted – written by John Le
3. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth – written by Darren Zheng
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled – written by Anthony Lee
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy – written by Sophia Chan
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God – written by John Le
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God – written by Justin Fang
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven – written by Anthony Lee
The Beatitudes – A.W. Pink
The Beatitudes – Thomas Watson