Who Are Truly Happy? *** Jesus’ Life and Ministry
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*** w86 10/1 pp. 8-9 Who Are Truly Happy? ***
Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Who Are Truly Happy?
EVERYONE wants to be happy. Realizing this, Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount by describing those who are truly happy. As we can imagine, this immediately captures the attention of his vast audience. And yet his opening words must seem contradictory to many.
Directing his comments to his disciples, Jesus begins: “Happy are you poor, because yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be filled. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Happy are you whenever men hate you . . . Rejoice in that day and leap, for, look! your reward is great in heaven.”
This is Luke’s account of the introduction of Jesus’ sermon. But according to Matthew’s record, Jesus also says that the mild-tempered, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peaceable are happy. These are happy, Jesus notes, because they will inherit the earth, they will be shown mercy, they will see God, and they will be called sons of God.
What Jesus means by being happy, however, is not simply being jovial or mirthful, as when one is having fun. True happiness is deeper, carrying the thought of contentment, a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in life.
So those who are truly happy, Jesus shows, are people who recognize their spiritual need, are saddened by their sinful condition, and come to know and serve God. Then, even if they are hated or persecuted for doing God’s will, they are happy because they know they are pleasing God and will receive his reward of everlasting life.
However, many of Jesus’ listeners, just like some people today, believe that being prosperous and enjoying pleasures is what makes a person happy. Jesus knows otherwise. Drawing a contrast that must surprise many of his listeners, he says:
“Woe to you rich persons, because you are having your consolation in full. Woe to you who are filled up now, because you will go hungry. Woe, you who are...