Matt 5:3-11 (NRSV)
5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Luke 6:20-26 (NRSV)
6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24 "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 "Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 "Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Jesus' beatitudes have the language of reversal (deconstructive wisdom) that challenges the dominant view of success or blessings. That is, people in the culture of Jesus' day aim to be rich, great, filled with happiness, ambitious, self-reliant, self-exalting, and competent contenders of all riches and powers. But Jesus says that blessings come from seeking mercy, peace, and justice.
Interestingly, Jesus' teaching echoes Laozi's (5th century BCE sage in China). Below is chapter 40 of the Tao Te Ching reputedly written by Laozi.
Reversion is the movement of the Way.
Weakness is the function of the Way.
All things in the world come from being.
Being comes from non-being.
"Reversion is the movement of the Way" shows paradoxical truth that reverses common cultural wisdom in the day. In Laozi's time, people seek to be great and pursue power and wealth. But Laozi points out a better way of living a life by returning to the basics, which is none other than reversal or reversion of people's thinking or behaving. That is, people have to go against the culture of the day or popular wisdom that teaches only greatness. He goes on to say "weakness is the function of the Way," which is similar to Jesus' teaching about mercy or meekness. As we see above, Jesus and Laozi share a common wisdom based on reversal and weakness.
For more about Jesus and weakness, see the following book.