And he began to teach them, saying: “Blessed …”The beatitudes – the series of blessings Jesus spoke at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount – are at times taken as moral instruction. While we certainly can take moral instruction from them, they are first and foremost blessings. Jesus begins his teaching ministry with a revelation of God: the proclamation of the God who blesses.
Genesis records that the first time God spoke to man, he spoke a blessing. As the God who blesses, he is the God of Abraham whom he blessed; the God of Isaac whom he blessed; the God of Jacob who would not let him go until he blessed him. He is the God of Sinai, who commanded that his mediator, a priest, should pronounce a blessing is his name: “ ‘The LORD bless you and keep you…’ They shall put my Name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Jesus’ blessings, like all of God’s blessings, are a promise. They are a promise that God takes notice of us, that God remembers us. They are a promise of God’s faithfulness to his creation. The blessings of the beatitudes are focused on proclaiming God’s goodness to those who do not now see it: the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted. The beatitudes proclaim God’s promise that their faithfulness and hardship are known to God and will not be forgotten. Jesus’ proclamation of the God who blesses is the ground of our hope.