The Secret of Being Blessed
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. —Psalm 1
Jesus stood out. Isaiah 52, 53 tells us that there was nothing physical about him that would attract anyone. He was not one of the “beautiful” people who by virtue of the physical or material gathers fans. He wasn’t a mover and shaker, creating a culture that would swirl around him like bees buzz a particularly succulent flower.
He would not meet anyone’s criteria for success. Even his intimates would desert him in the end. He built no monuments, wrote no books, left no familial legacy. He was the quintessential minimalist.
He stood out because he was the man who was different than all the rest, the one who walked among the wicked but was not one of the wicked. He knew sinners “up-close-and-personal” but was not a sinner himself. He did not join the mockers of truth and righteousness because he WAS truth and righteousness.
The Father announced to the world that this Jesus was his well-loved Son who brought him pleasure. The world was to listen to him, to learn from him, to believe him, to follow him, to become like him. This would mean a radical change—a people who no longer walked with the wicked, behaved like the sinners, or laughed at God.
The officials of Jesus’ day were astonished that a carpenter’s son, even at the age of twelve when he first appeared in the temple, should know so much. But as the quintessential “blessed” one his “delight” had always been in filling his mind with the Word of his Father. It never left him even at the workbench in his earthly father’s carpenter shop.
Did he quote the words of Psalm 19 as he worked away in the shop or helped his mother in the house, or played with his friends?
“The law of my Father is perfect, reviving my soul. The statutes of my Father are trustworthy, making me wise though I appear simple to many. The precepts of my Father are right, giving joy to my heart. The commands of my Father are radiant, shining like light from my eyes. The awe in which I hold my Father is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of my Father are sure and altogther righteous. They are more precious to me than gold, than much fine gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. They are a warning but in keeping them is great reward.”
Jesus spoke to his disciples about the secret of being like him. In that last evening before his trial and sentencing he told his disciples “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11) and followed this conversation with the illustration of the vine and the necessity of remaining connected at all times to the vine through which the fruit of righteousness would be produced.
We see the branches of the New Testament vine in the tree of Psalm 1. The tree flourishes no matter what because its roots are deeply embedded in the stream from which it draws its nourishment and strength just as the branches of the vine flourish because they are firmly attached to that vine.
Jesus, in the Father and the Father in him, modeled the relationship between the branches and the vine and the tree and the stream. The Spirit of God indwelling the believer now empowers that believer to produce the fruit that Jesus looks to find in those who belong to him.
For a “season” God dwelt with us. Some were privileged to see “his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Grace and truth walked the dusty roads of Palestine, touched the untouchable, and looked into the faces of people no one else saw. Grace and truth hung on a cross. The world saw his “fruit” for a while.
Fruit is always forming though it is not always seen. We, in northern climes, don’t see it in the winter. But it’s still there, being nurtured and readied for the warm sun of spring when its “season” arrives.
Rooted in the stream, connected to the vine, Him in me and me in Him, the leaves of my life never curl and turn brown, never fall to the ground. There are times when such disaster threatens. Did Jesus feel his roots pull away from the stream? He was tempted in every way that we can be tempted so he must have felt the pull. But the quintessential “blessed” One just dug deeper.
Prosper? Is death on a cross anyone’s definition of success? Actually it was. It was what God required to deal with sin and repeal the death sentence that hung over us because of that sin. It was what he had been sent to do. It was what he had volunteered to do. It was what his Father willed him to do. It was what we needed him to do if we were ever to regain a relationship with God. It was success.
The tree came from a seed that had fallen into the ground and died. The winter of that dark Friday gave way to the spring of that bright Sunday when the seed yielded its fruit in the resurrection.
An aunt of mine once gave me a resurrection plant. It was a sorry-looking thing in its plastic bag, all brown and crumbly. If anything looked dead, it did. It was—until it was placed in a bowl of water. Overnight it came back to life, green and supple.
Jesus modeled those branches, the tree, the resurrection plant. He modeled the importance of being connected to the source. Stay connected to the source. Cling for all you are worth to the vine. Plunge those roots down deep into the water. Drink up the nourishment that turns death into life. It's the secret to being blessed.