I’m back to reading The Message translation today, having heard a teaching at church that used it a bit back. The way the author words the Beatitudes is beautiful, and it reframes the whole message of how we are “the blessed.”
Here is what I read today:
“1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Salt and Light
13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Completing God’s Law
17-18 “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20 “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
21-22 “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
23-24 “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25-26 “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.”
Perhaps by it stating “You’re blessed…” instead of “Blessed are those…” it makes it more personal. Jesus is talking about ME…to me. When I’m in these circumstances and situations I’m the blessed one—not some random guy "over there." It made a huge difference in me receiving the blessing.
I love verses 3-4 when He reiterates the whole “more of Him, less of me” in life. Verse 6 stood out to me too, that “He’s the best meal you’ll ever eat.” This made me think of communion, and taking the elements (the cracker and juice) and reminding myself that those are representatives of His body and blood, and it IS the best meal I can ever eat! The weekly reminder of His sacrifices, His promises, and my atonement.
Of course the sections on being salt and light, and a city on a hill have always resonated with me. In this Covid society I wrestle with how to apply myself in this. It’s different for me now (maybe for you too?) but volunteering in our churches online ministry helps me remember that this salt and light can go far beyond the reach of my cities boundaries. Yes, if I’m out and about, I am careful to remember who I am and whose I am, and to act accordingly. I don’t want to lose my God-flavor when I'm alone or in public.
I could go on (and on) as I really love this set of scriptures today. I know that I’ll be re-reading them in other translations to hear how they compare, but I’m glad that this is the first one I read today.
Is there an area that stood out to you?
Thank You God for everything. I can't even list my many blessings out. Just thank You. You have been so good to me.
Lord, there’s so much wisdom in today’s reading and it’s settling deep in my heart. Thank You for the personalization of the Beatitudes for me today…and every day. Continue to open my eyes as to the many ways that You are for me, that You want more of me, and that it’s ok that I desire all of You, even if the world thinks it's odd or weird. I'm learning that to be Yours is so much more important than to be accepted by any crowd.
Continue to help me pray the breath prayer of “More of You, Jesus. Less of me.” and help me to give things up willingly that take up space in my heart and hands—spaces that You want to inhabit. I love You, Lord, and I want to serve You whole-heartedly. In Jesus’ name, amen.
©2023 Words and photo by Marina Bromley, Marina's Kitchen Table. Scripture from YouVersion, The Message Translation. You can read it here.