What It Means to be Blessed
Jesus is concerned with your real, lasting happiness.
Sadly, not everyone understands that. Not everyone believes that. In fact, not even every Christian has enjoyed the full reality of Christ's provision of happiness. But Jesus is committed to providing true happiness. And this fact is put on full display at the beginning of His most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-14)
But what does it mean to be blessed?
In this passage, the Greek word makarios is used nine times. This word, often translated as “blessed,” can also be translated as “happy” or “blissful.”
Both Homer and Hesiod spoke of the Greek gods as being “blessed in themselves,” enjoying a state of happiness unaffected by the world of men with its poverty, weakness and death. So the ancient Greek concept of makarios is a kind of inner happiness that is unaffected by circumstance.
This, too, is the basic New Testament meaning of “blessed.” It means an inner peace, an inner bliss, an inner happiness, an inward joy that is not produced nor affected by circumstance. This state of unshakeable well-being is how God desires His children to live.
Furthermore, “blessed” is also a word that indicates character. And the reason I say that is because the word is used to describe God. We find this throughout Scripture (e.g. Psalm 68:35, 1 Timothy 1:11).
In other words, whatever this state is — whatever it means to be blessed — it is true of God. And if this is true, then the only people who will ever experience it are those who partake of God and of Christ. Look at what Peter says:
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:4)
We are partakers of the divine nature. And because of this, we can know the same bliss, the same inner state of contentment, the same happiness deep down within us that is known by God. What a marvelous thing that is to realize!
The Sermon on the Mount, then, has nothing to offer someone who hasn't placed their faith in Jesus Christ. But for those of us who know and love Christ, for those of us who by faith in Christ have become partakers of the divine nature, the same sense of blessedness that is known by God and Christ can be known by us.
It is an absolutely mind-boggling thought that you and I can be such partakers of the divine nature as to know the very bliss that the eternal God knows in His own mind. But it is true. And this is exactly the kind of contentment God wants for us.
Next time, we will talk about how this God-honoring, indestructible happiness is distinct from the happiness sought by the world.
This blog post is based on Dr. MacArthur's sermon "The Only Way to Happiness," originally preached in 1998.