Blessed are you...
rejoice and be glad.
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Law or Gospel? Your work or God's? Condemnation or Forgiveness? Repentance or Absolution? If Scripture is understood properly (as we believe) only when rightly distinguishing Law and Gospel, and what's more, if preaching must have this distinction (if it is to be true preaching), then what do we have here in Jesus' sermon? Law or Gospel? Hopefully both, but where is the line?
Sometimes it's not so easy to discern. Well, it should be, we should get it, Scripture should be easy to understand and at all it's major points, it is easy to understand, even children get it: “Jesus loves me. Even though I'm a sinner, Jesus died on the cross to forgive my sins, taking my punishment for me.” That's simple enough, plain and clear, that's the Good News. But perhaps one of the most difficult passages to distinguish Law and Gospel is the one we hear today, The Beatitudes, the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the first public proclamation Jesus makes according to the Gospel of Matthew, and it isn't what we would expect.