Recently, both my Sunday School and Wednesday night groups went through the first part of Matthew, chapter 5. This is the beginning of Matthew’s rendition of “The Sermon on the Mount”, and it starts with “the Beatitudes”. It is a list of traits that show who are the blessed ones. When you read the list of the eight “Blessed Attitudes” in Matthew, you could easily see implicit commands. Be more poor in spirit, be more gentle, hunger and thirst for righteousness better. Something like that.
In the recent years, I read an interesting take on the Beatitudes in Matthew. This author said that the first four are brokenness and oppression that no one chooses, and that God is on the side of those oppressed ones. This would seem clear with “mourn” (Matthew 5:4); but if poor in spirit means “impoverished of God’s goodness” rather than “humble”, we could see that this would be a rather impressive switch.
The reason I bring up this reading in Matthew is because Luke doesn’t need a ton of interpretive work to see the blessedness of the broken. In your reading you read Luke 6. This is part of the passage we read:
20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.
23 Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.
25 Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
Blessed are the poor. Not the poor in spirit, the humble, the ones who recognize their own spiritual poverty.
Jesus blesses those who don’t have coins to rub together.
Because God wants to give them a kingdom.
Blessed are you who hunger. No hunger for righteousness, thirst for truth, and desire the goodness of God.
Jesus blesses those whose stomachs are growling.
Because God wants to give them food for now and eternity.
Blessed are you who weep. Not mourn over the sins of the world and the things that drag us away from God.
Jesus blesses those who cry because of stress, pain, heartache, and loss.
Because God will give them laughter.
Blessed are you when you are hated because of Jesus.
Jesus blesses those who are only trying to follow in his footsteps in the middle of a world that may hate them.
Because God has a great reward in heaven, waiting to be given.
And Jesus follows up with some strong language : woe to the rich, the well-fed, the laughing, and the well-thought-of. Those who have all the blessings this world has to offer don’t share any in the world to come.
What does this have to do with you?
Jesus clearly doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly. He never wants anyone to suffer needlessly.
And part of what we are called to do is to end the needless suffering around us.
Jesus told his disciples “you will always have the poor with you”, and what that text is really saying is “never stop giving to those who need help.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)
God is on the side of the poor; He will bless them in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to alleviate their poverty now.
Jesus told his disciples “you give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13), and the early church made sure that every person was fed and taken care of. (Acts 2:44-46)
God is on the side of the hungry; He will give them food in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to feed them now.
Jesus always encouraged and comforted his disciples (John 14), and the church lived life together, weeping together so they could rejoice together (Romans 12:15).
God is on the side of the weeping; He will give them comfort in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to comfort them now.
Jesus said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and that “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
God is on the side of those hated for his son; He will bless them beyond all measure in his kingdom.
Your call is to be a great blessing to all those whom God desires to bless. May you bring blessing wherever you go; you are blessed to be a blessing.