Jesus often says things that are exactly the opposite of “normal” thinking.
He says that the greatest will be the servant (Matthew 23:11). He says that unless we become like children, we miss out on what matters most (Matthew 18:3). He says that his followers don’t cling to power and violence and all the “normal” means and methods of doing business.
Perhaps no place is that more apparent than in the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:2-12.
Often the beatitudes are preached as a to-do list—and certainly, Jesus is not discouraging these behaviors—but this passage is not prescriptive. It is simply describing the reality of life in the kingdom of God.
From a totally natural standpoint—I don’t particularly want to be poor, mournful, meek, hungry, merciful, pure, a peacemaker, or persecuted. Most of the time, we are drawn to the opposite of these ideals. But Jesus reverses our thoughts and says that those people are exactly the ones that are receiving God’s blessing.
We tend to think that the rich and happy are blessed. When something good goes my way, I’m inclined to say, “I feel so blessed!” But in the great kingdom reversal, Jesus suggests another way of looking at things: even when everything around me has totally gone wrong, maybe especially then, I am blessed by God.