Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
These are the words that Jesus taught after healing people that were blind and casting demons out of people.
What do you think about that?
The being that has power to re-create and rebuild an eyeball with a command. The Man that tells vertebrae and spinal columns back into action and contagious skin diseases to evaporate: He is teaching.
When we see somebody that has accomplished something, we get excited, right? Like celebrities that pop up on the background of our tourist selfies, or when you are waiting at the terminal at the airport and OMG OVER THERE! IS THAT _____? (I was 4 feet away from Steve Jobs and Johnathan Ive at MacWorld once. But it was before he re-invented the smart phone, so none of you can disprove it. Even more cool was handing Malala Yousafzai her Starbucks backstage at the Victory Theater, but I digress.)
We tend to listen to people when they are famous or have accomplished big amazing things. Sure, we only quote them for a little bit and then we move on to the next celebrity, but we listen for a bit. (I also saw Darth Vader in the Great Scot parking lot once.)
This list of people Jesus mentions is worth our life-long attention.
- Poor people
- Hungry people
- People that are weeping
- And You, when you are hated because of Jesus
Note that Jesus doesn’t put conditions on any of these people except for the last ones on this list. Poor people, no matter why they are poor, from their own decisions or because of their circumstances, are going to receive the Kingdom of God.
We see that happening already, don’t we? People that live in poverty are more open to talk about spiritual things and cry out to God for help with their problems than their wealthy counterparts. They are already starting to feel the Kingdom they are receiving.
The hungry people are also already getting a taste of the Kingdom of God. You don’t have to volunteer at a soup kitchen or meal giveaway for long to hear many more “Thank Yous” than a waitress will get from her customers in a whole week. Hungry people are often very thankful to get food. They are rehearsing what they’ll experience in the fullness of the Kingdom.
And the weepers. Oh the weepers. Every funeral that I never wanted to go to was the most rewarding part of my day. There is no guest as uninvited as loneliness at a funeral, and when we show up instead, we kick loneliness to the curb for a little bit. All laughter in the light of death is a preview for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let’s not over interpret that last one. Rejoice and leap for joy when you are rejected for the sake of Jesus. When they hate you and exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil, throw a party. Let us not shame our brothers and sisters who endure persecution by quoting this verse when we have to wear a mask or when our Facebook post isn’t liked.
Let’s quote this verse when we’re about to chicken out of that conversation with our neighbor. Let’s quote this verse when we have a chance to speak up and we’re afraid to do it. What’s the worst that could happen? Could people hate me and exclude me and insult me? That’s what Jesus told me to get excited about!
Instead of getting excited about being in the pits with Emerson Fittipaldi and Danica Patrick (I did that) what if we prepare ourselves to follow Jesus the Healer so closely that we may celebrate the way He told us.
He has power over health and evil. He knows what He’s talking about.