Blessed are… You

As we conclude our journey through the Beatitudes, here is our path so far:
Poor in spirit / destitute (v. 3) -> mourning over our sin / broken (v. 4) -> meekness / empty (v. 5) -> hunger & thirst for righteousness -> fulfillment / satisfaction (v.6) -> merciful to others (v. 7) -> pure in heart (v. 8) -> peacemaker (v. 9) -> persecuted (v. 10)

Jesus wraps up the Beatitudes today, with this final blessing:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely 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 were before you.”
(Matthew 5:11-12 NIV)

Jesus basically repeats the previous Beatitude, with two important distinctions:

  • He moves from a general audience reference to a very personal audience:
    (“Blessed are those…” -> “Blessed are you…”)
  • He moves from a general cause to a specific cause:
    (“… because of righteousness…” -> “… because of me.”)

Yes, Jesus also expands the list of persecutions, from a general blanket term to specific types of persecution.  But the focus is not on what happens to us, but why.

Jesus is saying we may get persecuted for standing up for what is morally and ethically right (v. 10).  Furthermore, as His disciples, we will be persecuted for our very relationship with Him (v. 11).

In this final beatitude, Jesus does not employ His previous literary format (our being or doing -> God’s response).  Instead, He issues a command to us, a call to action.

And what is His charge to us, in the face of being persecuted because of our relationship to Him?
“Rejoice and be glad…” (v. 12a)

And why should we rejoice and be glad?
“… because great is your reward in heaven…”  (v. 12b)

And where exactly is heaven, where our reward resides?
Let’s remember the introduction to the Beatitudes – Jesus’ simple message:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17)

Now that we have collected the dots, can you connect the dots?

Let me illustrate with a story:

My friend has a developmentally disabled son who is in his early 20’s, but functions at about a five-year-old level.  My friend was trying to teach his son about basic navigation around their city.  He wanted to see if his son could find his way home if he wandered off or got separated from his dad for some reason.  The conversation went something like this:

Dad: “Son, if we were were at the grocery store, and you had to walk home, could you find your way?”
Son: “No, daddy.”
Dad: “So you would be lost?”
Son: “No, daddy.”
Dad: “If we were were at the gas station, and you had to walk home, could you find your way?”
Son: “No, daddy.”
Dad: “So you would be lost?”
Son: “No, daddy.”
Dad: “I don’t understand, son.  If we were at these places, and you had to walk home, you could not find your way.  But you say you would not be lost.  Why do you say that?”
Son: “Because I would be with you, Daddy.”

May we find heaven in Jesus, like this young man found life and direction in relationship with his earthly dad.