A long-practiced cooking technique is marinating. The idea is to let meat sit in some type of sauce for a period of time. The longer the marinating time is, the more flavor the meat will absorb from the sauce. I love in the summer to marinate chicken in Italian dressing overnight and then grill it. It’s a simple technique, but it will add so much flavor to the meat.
On Thursday, after the breaching of the Capitol Building on Wednesday, I wrote that I had decided to ruminate, or meditate on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). And so I have, reading it daily. This morning, I decided to commit the Beatitudes to memory. By reading this daily and memorizing the Beatitudes, I am spiritually marinating my heart and my mind in these words of Jesus.
As I wrote on Thursday, I made the decision not to comment on the actual happenings in the Capitol or my view on them. Rather, I just wanted to immerse myself in the Sermon on the Mount for a time, hoping I could soak up its rich spiritual flavor. In the same way that marinade has an impact on meat, I wanted my time marinating in the Sermon on the Mount to impact my views of the world and myself.
What I have learned so far is this: The Beatitudes set up the whole message of Jesus. They are a summary of the effects of having the Kingdom of God in our hearts. One commentator said a more accurate translation of “Blessed” is “Oh how blissful.” Thus, “Oh how blissful is the one who is poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Notice the difference? I have long read this as meaning a future blessedness, but the second rendering implies it is a current state for those who are poor in spirit, or who mourn, or who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
So in the Beatitudes, Jesus proclaims what people will experience if they turn their hearts toward him and his Kingdom. What follows flows from these pronouncements, and are the practical commands to those who commit to him. If our hearts and minds are defined by the Beatitudes, then this is how we should live. And, finally, Jesus closes with a reminder of what he stated in the beginning, though using a slightly different approach. He tells the parable of two home builders, one who constructs his house on a foundation of sand, the other on a foundation of rock. Then he states that the one who built on the sand will see his house destroyed when the storms of life come, but the one who built on the rock, his house will survive the same storms.
Jesus ends his sermon as he began it, saying if our minds and spirits are aligned with his, then we will obey his commands. And if we obey his commands, oh how blissful we will be in our lives regardless of the storms that come upon us.
I am still marinating in this, trying to soak it in, but oh how I want to be blissful no matter what is happening around me. It seems the only way to do that is to continue to marinate in the Word of God and allow it to have its flavoring effect on my life.
© Jim Musser 2021 All Scripture references are from the New International Version, 2011.