Saturday, March 4, 2017

Blessed to be in the Kingdom

Mary would not have qualified by Jewish standards to be The Blessed Mother. The Jews of Jesus' day had very strict criteria for the blessed. They had to be Jewish, male, religious, healthy and wealthy. If you were sick or poor or female, well, your bad! God obviously wasn't blessing you!

We know (see previous post) that the Greek word for blessed is makarios which means "well off or fortunate". James Bryan Smith explains this concept in his book The Good and Beautiful Life. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus "looked out at the crowd of desperate, sad, broken and persecuted people, and called them makarios". In short, Smith describes the Beatitudes this way:
Blessed are you who are feeling marginalized from God, who have nothing going for you spirituallyfor you too are invited into the kingdom...We are blessed because of Jesus. The kingdom is available to even us. We are not cut off from God. Life situations don't prevent us from entering the kingdom. The life circumstances that Jesus called blessed are commonly thought to be anything but that. And the Beatitudes are radical because they teach that these people have the same access to the kingdom as the rich and happy.
Mary was Jewish and from a good family line, but she was female, poor and from a very insignificant town. She would not have been an acceptable choice to birth the Messiah by the standards of  her day. But God turned everything upside down and invited "females, sick people, the poor, the second class half-Jew, the person whose life has been broken by bad choices, the outcast, the refugee" into his kingdom.

Scripture also says blessed are the givers (Acts 20:35), the forgiven (Rom 4:7-8), the single (I Cor 7:40) the excluded (Lk 6:22) and the insulted (I Pet 3:14). In other words, anyone who is invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).

Just like all of us, Mary was invited into the Kingdom of her sonthe Son of God. In Acts 1:13-14, we see that Mary was present with her other sons in the prayer meeting that birthed the church! Mary shows us that true blessing doesn't come from pedigree or education or status. It comes from being a true citizen of God's Kingdom.

I have fallen into the trap of the Jewish leaders. I forget that it is not my health and wealth and race and gender that makes me blessed. I am blessed because of Jesus, because the kingdom is available to meJesus is available to me. I am blessed when I believe this!

In what ways are you blessed in this sense?
How are you living as a member of God's kingdom?

PRAYER
King of Heaven, thank you for inviting everyone into your kingdom. Thank you that I do not have to be wealthy and put together before I can join. Thank you that you take the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the hurting. Thank you that you took Mary. I am truly blessed to be in your kingdom.

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