The Beatitudes

I thought that we would spend the rest of the winter on the Beatitudes. In this post, I will give a little background. It is not by accident that the early Fathers placed Matthew as the first book in the New Testament. Its unique introduction acts as a doorway, if you will, to Jesus and the whole New Testament. One is expected to pass through Matthew Chapters 1-4 to understand who Jesus is. Immediately we begin to see what opens up to us; Jesus is the true Israelite that succeeded where the Israelites of old failed. The genealogy in chapter one is divided in three equal sections beginning with Abraham, the first Israelite, moving to David the great King, then to the exile, the divine punishment for failure, culminating with Christ. It was not lost on the first Christians that Mary was betrothed to Joseph, named after the great patriarch of Israel who also had encounters with God through dreams. The wise men from the east take us back to the Balaam story in numbers 22-24, especially the prophesy that a star will rise out of Jacob (24:17). Herod is Pharaoh revisited, and the flight into Egypt is juxtaposed to the slaughter of the innocents. Exiting Egypt, Jesus is baptized; paralleling Israel’s passing through the Red Sea. Immediately we find Jesus in wilderness being tested as was Israel.

These parallels crescendo to Chapter 5:1. Jesus sees the multitude of Israel before Him. Like Moses of old He goes up to a mountain, which is the new Sinai. He seats Himself, and His disciples gather around Him. The little phrase “then He opened His mouth” is loaded! Now Jesus is no longer Moses, but God Himself speaking once again from the Holy Mountain. The first words He utters are the nine beatitudes.

How important do you think these parallels were to the early Christians? What do you think of this typology? Any ideas what Jesus’ response to John the Baptist means, “… it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness” (3:15) with regard to His baptism? How important is it to you that Jesus was the true Israelite that “got it right”? How does all of this connect with the Beatitudes?

One Response to “The Beatitudes”

  1. Michael Trollo Says:

    This is very critical! Where Adam and Israel fail, Jesus is victorious! This is so crucial for us to keep viewing the Old Testament being fulfilled in the New Testament. The New Testament did not do away with the Old but rather is seen as its completion.

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