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Wanna be Happy? 

Matthew 5:1-12

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"And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. [2] And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,  [3] ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  [4] Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  [5] Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. [6] Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [7] Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  [8] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [9] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  [10] Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [11] Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. [12] Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'" (NASB)

Eight times Jesus begins a sentence with the same words, "Blessed are..."  Before we look at the things He said after those words, I want us to concentrate on those two words.  What does it mean to be blessed?  It is a religious sounding word, isn't it?  It is pregnant with virtue–a stained glass sort of a word.  The truth is, the Greek word simply means happy.  In English, blessed is a word of much higher rank than happy, but that isn't the intent here.  This word simply means happy.  In other Greek literature, the same word is largely used to denote "outward prosperity."  (Robertson, p. 39) For some reason, I struggle to translate the word the way I know it is supposed to be translated.  It seems almost sacrilegious to use the word happy instead of blessed, doesn't it?  Actually, I checked the modern translations and paraphrases I have and only the Living Bible uses the word happy, and it doesn't do it all the time, some of the times it uses the word "fortunate."  Why do you think we have a hard time using the common, earthy word "happy" here?  Perhaps it is because we have a hard time believing Jesus is concerned with our happiness.  Or maybe because the things he is talking about here are so counter to our common idea of happiness that we can't conceive that "happy" is what he meant to say. 

I am convinced that in these verses, Jesus is talking about what it takes to be happy–good ‘ol run of the mill, ordinary happiness that seems to escape so many people today.  Certainly the things He promises are things that will make a person happy, things like heaven, comfort, inheriting the earth, being satisfied, receiving mercy, seeing God, and being called the sons of God.  Whatever a person has to go through in life to receive those things would be worth it in the end.  But I don't get the feel from reading this scripture that Jesus is saying that if we persevere through the horrible process the destination will be worth it all, rather, I believe He is saying that we can be happy through the process too. 

Yet, these are the kind of verses that leave the reader with the question, "Did I read that right?  Is Jesus really saying this is the way to be happy?"   Being poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty, or being persecuted certainly don't meet the, "Yeah, that's what is going to make me happy test."

How ‘bout you?  You wanna be happy?  If so, you will need to be poor in spirit. Matthew 5:3 says, 
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