Blessed are the Bikers …

Most of us find peace and relaxation as we enjoy long rides on our motorcycles. For me, the perfect ride is early morning or at dusk, 69 degrees in the NC mountains with very little traffic. Nothing is better.

Some might go as far as to say that they feel blessed when they have perfect riding conditions. I don’t like to use that word – blessed – much. It’s overused. I hear it in church, at the office, in stores, social media – the list goes on and on.  Even in the McDonald’s drive thru line.

“Have a blessed day.”

I feel the word blessed is losing some of its power.

Most Christians are familiar with the Beatitudes. They begin with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3).

Have you ever sat down and read the Beatitudes? They are found in two Gospels, providing a brief and compelling look into that which God values.

Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) contains eight blessings, or beatitudes given by Jesus. Each is formatted in the same way. First, Jesus lists a group of people whom most people would consider disadvantaged. Then, he shows how they are, instead, fortunate. These blessings are a way of restating Old Testament values, giving new meaning based on Jesus’ interpretation.

Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-49), give us a similar set of blessings, but in this case, there are four blessings and four curses. Luke’s beatitudes are stated in the familiar Matthew format – statement of blessing (or curse), followed by the expected result.

While the formats are roughly the same, note the differences in how they are presented to us. Luke’s version is more physical while Matthew’s is more spiritual. Another difference is that Luke’s are addressed directly to those listening to the sermon while Matthew’s speak in the third person. You can see these differences by comparing the first beatitude in each Gospel.  Luke says “Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Contrast to Matthew’s “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3).

Smart people, from St. Augustine to Jerome to NT Wright, have argued for centuries whether these two sermons refer the same events and/or why there are differences in tone and person with the beatitudes. I agree that it matters at a scholarly level, but we can still appreciate them at face value.

God blesses those whom God chooses to bless and it’s a powerful thing to have God’s blessing.

You’ll probably never hear me say “have a blessed day”. Just not something I feel comfortable doing. But I hope you’ll forgive me just this once –

Blessed are the bikers, for ours – or at least, mine – is the solitude that can only be found through the hum of a 1200cc bike at dusk in the NC mountains.

Further Reading …

This post references Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6:17-49.