Summary: Last sermon in my Being the Believing series through the Beatitudes
It Hurts So Good!
Imagine in your youth reading of a promised Messiah that would one day come to set the captives free, establish His kingdom, banish the wicked and rule with a rod of iron through love and power. A Messiah that would bring salvation to the lost, comfort to the mourning, restoration of the land to the meek, give satisfaction to the longing, mercy to the merciful, reveal Himself to the pure in heart and adopt and title those that would strive for peace.
Now here you are as an adult, sitting at the base of a mountain, in the middle of nowhere, looking at this man that claims to be that very Messiah, listening to Him preach, hanging on every word, hoping beyond hope that now is the time and today is THAT day. And, He starts, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Imagine your excitement sitting at the base of the mountain, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, preaching through the Greatest Sermon ever preached, promising great rewards for faith and the demonstration of that faith. Imagine being one in that audience that was weary and tired of being ruled over, taken advantage of and mistreated: being viewed as a stranger in your own promised land! Imagine what these words would mean, life-changing! Rewarding! And, as if these first seven rewards were not grand enough, He was saving the best for last, that’s what great teacher does, they start low and build up the momentum, there was one more! Already we have been promised heaven, comfort, the earth, satisfaction, mercy, and the ability to see God and receive the royal title of Son of God, things NO OTHER religion was ever able to offer.
So, there you are, on cloud nine, excited about this last reward like a child that saved the biggest gift under the tree, Jesus Christ unpacks the last gift in verse 10. Here it is, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Wait, WHAT?
I am sure there was someone in that crowd that was looking at the guy next to him either thinking or saying “he said ‘Blessed are THOSE who are persecuted” not ME! He was not looking at me when He said “Those”. He may have been looking at YOU or that guy over there with the priestly clothes on, but not ME. He said THOSE who are persecuted!
I mean this was shocking to this crowd! They were expecting that by the time they progressed up this beatitudnal ladder: admitted they were poor, wept over their sin, displayed meekness, shunned hypocrisy, and went out of their way to bring peace, even if it meant conflict and being unpopular, why they should be getting knighted! These are NOT easy things to do! I mean heck, you send in $100 to Benny Hinn and he even gives you a prayer shawl and your name put on the TV screen for the whole world to see! Do all these things and Jesus say your reward is persecution?!
It needed an explanation and personalization then and it needs it today!
There is no doubt that Jesus knew what was going on in the minds of this people who were shocked and struggling with this final reward of persecution, presented as if it were a good thing! How do I know they were struggling with this final beatitude? Because I know people. How do I know that Jesus knew they were struggling? Because I know my Jesus.
Do not miss what Jesus does here, something completely different than what we have seen thus far. Something unique in all of the eight beatitudes, and if you are not careful, you will miss it. For seven beatitudes, Jesus used words like “they”, “theirs” and “those”, yet after He reveals that the ultimate reward for Being the Believing is persecution, He settles His eternally loving eyes on the crowd and brings an explanation and personalization with the simple, yet personal word, “you”. See it?! In verse 10, Jesus stuck with the words “those” and “theirs”, but in verse 11, after He knows they are struggling and pointing to the guy next to them and the priest in the back, Jesus says the same thing but different “Blessed are YOU”, He makes it personal and then brings an explanation.