Matthew 5:1-5

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 the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…” Matthew 5:1-5

My son and I just returned from a motorcycle trip out amongst the western mountains. When you live in flat country there is something magical, powerful, about mountains. It becomes clear why native peoples find them holy, often rooting stories of creation to particular peaks.

Anyone who knows the history of Israel immediately recognizes the significance of mountains. Abraham and Isaac. Moses and the burning bush. Moses receiving the tables of the law. Jesus didn’t go up the mountainside because he was on vacation – he began his teaching ministry there as a sign of his power and authority. He is the New Moses.

But then he turns the world upside down.

Reading these verses reminds me of that old television commercial where children say they aspire to a humdrum future of mediocre employment. It worked because that isn’t how our dreams tend to work. We imagine the best, not getting stuck with the rest. We imagine success, not barely struggling to get by. But Jesus turns everything around.

To be dis-spirited is depressing. To mourn is heart-breaking. To be meek is to let others walk all over us. And yet Jesus attaches blessing and promise to each of these.

Perhaps Jesus knows something about us. Perhaps he realizes that life isn’t something to be controlled but to be experienced. Perhaps he realizes that there is a worldly value system designed to disconnect us from a vital connection to our Creator. A worldly value system rooted, not in reality, but in rebellion. Created, not by God, but by those of us who will always prefer to be gods unto ourselves.

But then life happens and we find ourselves upside down. Among the depressed. The mourning. The meek. We are stripped of our illusions. The fog lifts and we can clearly see. The very circumstances which felt like worldly failure have driven us back to a place of radical dependence on God. And suddenly we find ourselves at home again.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, be our teacher and our guide. Take us with you to that place where you help us see ourselves and our lives more clearly. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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5 Responses to “Matthew 5:1-5”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Very glad to have you back. We live in the Mountain West and know what you are talking about. Thank you very much. I met you in Helena, Mt. Probably 20 years ago

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Glad to have you back. Enjoy your devotions much. live in SD

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for the lesson…

  4. Carolee Groux Says:

    Here is another reminder to humble ourselves, pray and seek Jesus is this verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

    Good to see your devotions in my mailbox once again. Welcome home! I can relate to your appreciation for the mountains on your trip West. I too grew up in an area flat as a pancake; the rich farm lands of the Red River Valley in northern Minnesota. When I moved West I really enjoyed seeing and skiing the mountains.

  5. Sharon L. Says:

    Thank you so much for writing again. It is a comfort for me and my friends and family to whom I forward the devotions.

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