OK – it wasn’t actually a sermon. Sandler’s message came in the form of a funny sketch, but it is loaded with much truth. Adam Sandler recently hosted Saturday Night Live and starred in a sketch as a tour guide warning people against using his tours to Italy to make them happy.
Romano tours can take you on a hike, but can’t make you like hiking. They can take you on a zip line, but can’t make your “weee” on a zip line genuine.
Like most comedy and satire, Sandler’s recent sketch on SNL is funny because there is truth beneath the surface. While we may not take a tour of Italy we often look for happiness in changing our circumstances, changing our jobs, or changing something else about our lives. But if we get a new job, new relationship, or new possession, to quote Sandler – “it is still the same sad you.” If we examine our lives we realize that happiness must be something more than what we achieve or acquire.
At the beginning of His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives a message on happiness that is so counter-cultural, so very otherworldly, that it does not make sense unless we have gotten to the point where we realize this world cannot make us happy. As Thomas Watson profoundly wrote: “Until sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.”
True happiness does not come through circumstances but character – character that marks people who belong to God’s kingdom. Here is what Jesus preached:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. [Matthew 5:3-8]
While Jesus’ sermon is most commonly translated “Blessed are the,” the word for “blessed” in the original language is “makarios” and it means “happy.” Jesus is saying, “This is what true happiness is.” At one point in our culture people understood “blessed” to be a deeper than “happiness,” but the blessed hashtag has likely ruined that view – with everything from post workout selfies to new cars being crowned with the #blessed title. Jesus’ message is the opposite of what has been positioned as happiness or #blessed. Jesus speaks about our character and without a transformation of our character, it is still the same sad us.