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Today we are beginning to dip into Jesus’ sermon on the mount. We’ll do this once monthly as part of our varied topics for Covenant Weekly. We do this to help us keep our eyes on Jesus and to be shaped in his way. We won’t be diving deep into the text, but hopefully, something in these reflections will encourage you.

Matthew 5:3-12
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
    for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

With each of these blessings, Jesus is addressing people in less-than-desirable circumstances.

  • The poor
  • Those who are mourning
  • The humble - in other translations, this is rendered as the meek - those who are held off to the side and not heeded
  • Those who are longing for justice - because they are in a context where justice isn’t being practiced
  • The merciful - those who aren’t responding in kind to things done to them
  • Those with pure hearts - there’s nothing wrong with a pure heart, but we know how normal it is for those who act with integrity and compassion to be alienated within our world
  • Those who work for peace - because Shalom doesn’t exist
  • Those who are persecuted for doing right
  • Those who are mocked, persecuted, and lied about because of their association with Jesus

No one wants to face what these people are facing, but Jesus insists that God blesses them. In other translations, it says these people are happy. Those of you who have or currently find yourself in those circumstances can probably vouch for the fact that one doesn’t feel happy or blessed when in them. So how can Jesus insist on God’s blessing for those of us in dire straights?

Simply put, in each situation, Jesus insists that the present circumstances are not the end of the story. When poor or mourning; when held off or aching for justice; when showing mercy or acting with integrity; when working for peace or facing persecution - God is present and acting to move us towards a truer and deeper reality where we receive the kingdom of heaven, comfort, the whole earth, satisfaction, mercy, the presence and adoption of God.

Jesus insists that God sees you in your present circumstances and has a greater hope for you beyond what you face today. I’d love to tell you when and how that is going to work out. The biblical testimony suggests that it may not be on this side of eternity. However, it is assured. You are not alone and this is not the end. Romans 8:28 reminds us that even through what we are experiencing now, God is working for our good.

We are being encouraged to remain faithful while we wait for the day when “God’s dwelling place [will be] among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” While we wait for the day when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” We await the day when God will make “everything new.” (Revelation 21:3-5)

And in the meantime, take some comfort in knowing that God sees you, is present with you, and will be with you until that day comes.

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