Sermon on the Plain, part 4

Well, it has been a long time but I am finally standing on what I consider fairly solid ground. After a whirlwind weekend in Peoria, AZ and a short catch-up week last week, I am finally able to continue my commentary on the book of Luke. By the way, Kim and I begin working with the West Olive Church of Christ June 1st. I will be the associate minister there.

Conclusion of Luke’s Beatitudes

We now reach the most contradictory of all the statements of Jesus in this Sermon on the Plain thus far:

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

Jesus, we ask, how can this be a blessing. And the answer is quite simple when you think about it. All of these things, hatred, rejection, exclusion, insult, are all things that happened to Jesus, the Son of Man. Therefore, to have these things sone to us is to be included and share in the same things that Jesus suffered. That is the blessing: we are able to united and identify with the Master when we are persecuted for being like him.

But not only are you indentifying with the Lord, but also we share in the same experience as the prophets of old:

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Think about it: in the same way Elijah, Zechariah, all the prophets who endured in the face of stiff persecution, we too participate in the same things they did. We can rejoice knowing that we relive the experience of the prophets. Ultimately, though, we can rest assured of a reward in heaven for suffering persecution. We rejoice and leap for joy over the fact that God will reward faithfulness in the face of persecution.

What a fundamentally different message Jesus shared with the crowds that day and what an obscene form of blessing this appears to the unconverted. Nevertheless, this is Jesus’ blessing. If you want to know what it means to be like Jesus, then you endure the things he detailed in these beatitudes in Luke. This is the bliss experienced by the Christian: though outwardly we may waste away, inward we are being renewed daily.

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