Today, we continue our look at Jesus’ earliest sermon, particularly what we call the Beatitudes. “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin term beatus, meaning happy, fortunate or blissful. True joy, deep joy, lasting joy often comes through different channels than those our culture deems important to success. These were important enough to Jesus that he wanted to make sure his disciples understood these…
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matt 5:8) We’ve all heard something like this, “He really has a pure heart.” It’s usually spoken about a person who has made a mistake – he robbed a bank, but his heart is pure. When we say someone has a pure heart, we want others to know that underneath the broken, messed up exterior there is something good in that person. When Jesus came, the religious were putting hurdles in front of these types of people to getting right with God. Religion says we have to clean up ourselves before God will love us, but Jesus loves us right where we are. He is telling them that times are changing, the pure in heart have been kept from God, but now they are the ones who will see him.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (Matt 5:9) Peacekeepers do everything they can to not rock the boat or cause conflict, all for the sake of peace. Peacemakers endure what has to be done to ensure ultimate peace, for the sake of truth…for the sake of Jesus. Peacemakers usher in heaven to this world…now.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:10) Jesus was informing his disciples that the first wave of persecution was not going to come from “out there” but from “in here.” Those “inside” the religious circle would be the first to persecute. When we stand up to fight, we’d better be sure we are standing up to fight against what Jesus fought against, and fight for what Jesus fought for.
9. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who came before you. (Matt 5:11-12) The religious will insult you and say all kinds of stuff against you because of Jesus. Get that? Because of Jesus…not because you are a jerk. When we protect what Jesus protected, some people will not be happy. Jesus said, “Not in my house!” We must be sure that we are protecting the right house – the place where his presence dwells is not in a temple made with human hands, but in the image-bearers he created, the pure hearts that are covered in prostitution, drug addiction, materialism, consumerism, gambling debt, abuse, poverty, wealth…and even religion. That’s the sacred ground we must protect…the places where Jesus would walk…the relationships Jesus would grow…the people Jesus would love.
“Apparently God does fancy a certain kind of human. Yes, he does love everyone, he died for everyone and he allows the natural pain of life to touch us all, but evidently there’s a type of person who seems to capture God’s heart, a type of person whose picture ends up on God’s refrigerator.” (Hugh Halter, Sacrilege)
…we love the way he loved, we love the people he loved…and from time to time we will face the resistance he faced..