People marked by the being poor in spirit, mourning over sin, hungering for righteousness, pursuing peace and mercy, etc. will draw the hostility of the world, but they will be rewarded with eternal life in the kingdom of God. We, his disciples, are not to shrink from following Jesus for fear that the world might hate us. We are to follow him, even though that invites mocking, scoffing and persecution.
- The Sermon on the Mount is a very important body of teaching given by Jesus at a time when he was very popular.
- Jesus intends to show his disciples the issues they will face if they want to be children of God.
- Jesus contrasts his teaching with the teaching of the Pharisees.
- Luke 6 is the same sermon given in shorter version. We can use Luke to understand Matthew and vice versa.
- Jesus speaks cryptically. He makes concise provocative statements that we must think about to understand.
- Jesus makes strong categorical, black and white statements that ultimately reflect the end of a process of struggle, growth and maturity.
- In the beatitudes, Jesus confronts us with fundamental convictions of saving faith.
Each beatitude has 4 features:
- A beatitude tells us WHO is blessed.
- A beatitude tells us WHY such a person is blessed.
- A beatitude tells us ONLY these people are blessed.
- There is something surprising or ironic about these people being blessed.
10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12
22“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. … 26Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” – Luke 6:22-23; Luke 6:26
- The persecution of the righteous is a common theme in the Old Testament.
- The “wicked” are those who have rejected God and act unjustly to take what they want.
- The “righteous” are those who seek to follow God and live within His will.
- The wicked hate the righteous and take advantage of them.
- But in the end, God will bless the righteous and cast down the wicked.
- Examples: Psalm 37; Psalm 69.
- Jesus also points to the example of the Old Testament prophets (e.g. 2Chr 24:17-21).
- Notice the pronoun shift between 5:10 and 5:11. Jesus shifts from speaking generally about all children of God to his disciples who will be suffer for following him just as the Old Testament prophets suffered for following God.
- Other Jews persecuted the prophets of Israel, not atheists or pagans.
- Jesus was a threat to the religious leaders of his day and his disciples will cause the same reaction (e.g. John 16:2).
- The people who face both the worldly and the religious hostility for following Jesus are fortunate because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Jesus gives the same reason in this last beatitude as the first.
- The prophets were mistreated because they were faithful to God. Likewise, the followers of Jesus will be mistreated for their faithfulness to God. Both will inherit a place in the kingdom of God.
- See Hebrews 11:36-40.
We might ask, isn’t there some middle ground? Can I be a faithful disciple of Jesus without being hated or mistreated? Jesus answers that question in the next section.
13You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16
- As Bible students, our goal is not to pour everything we know about salt into this text. Rather we want to understand the specific metaphor Jesus intends.
- Jesus tells us the comparison he’s making: taste.
- By its very nature, salt makes itself known in food by the distinctiveness of its taste. If it no longer has that taste, then it is no longer salt and it is no good.
- Likewise, the other metaphors in this paragraph focus on the idea of being distinctive.
- The only way salt can be tasteless is to stop being salt. The only way a disciple of Christ can stop being different than the world is to stop being a disciple of Christ.
- Light has an unmistakable impact on darkness. The very nature of light is that you want it to shine and stand out.
- The people in a city on a hill cannot rely on a strategy of invisibility to protect themselves. They are up on a hill, visible for all to see.
- We, his disciples, are not to hold back from following Jesus for fear that the world might hate us. We are to follow him, even though that invites mocking, scoffing and persecution.
Blessed are those who follow Jesus in a way that makes them stand out and invite the hostility and persecution of both the world and the religious, for they will inherit a glorious future from God. They and they alone will find true reward as citizens in the kingdom of God.