“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“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! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
I hope that when you hear the words of our LORD, you are as comforted by them as I have been over the past several weeks. We often think of these words as being quite profound, given that they are so at odds with the world’s understanding of things. They are not rooted in the worldly system of the Great Harlot. They are words rooted in Christ’s holiness, the Father’s love, and the Spirit’s comforting power.
Now, why do I say that they are at odds? Well, look at it this way, why would Christ declare that the poor are blessed? Why would He say such a thing? Even if He were just speaking of being poor in spirit, why would He say that?
Wouldn’t it be easier for Jesus to just make us successful in our endeavors so that we would never face being poor? (He is sovereign, by the way. He could do that.) Wouldn’t a loving God want us to be rich? Wouldn’t He provide for our happiness? Wouldn’t He work to make us healthy, wealthy, and wise?
These questions are the very questions that the typical Christian will ask themselves whenever they are seeking that which God has not given them. Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, God wants me to be happy, right?”
That is usually said right before a believer shipwrecks his life by abandoning God’s word as he rushes headlong into debauchery.
This is why we need Christ’s words. They help us have a proper view of our world, and a proper view of what is important. These statements of Christ force us to challenge our worldview, our understanding of how things operate. We falsely think that our happiness is paramount to God’s purpose in saving us. But it is not. Christ’s goal is to help us become godly and holy, not happy.
Again, these statements seem odd. They seem out of place. They seem, if I may, backwards. I like what J.C. Ryle says about these words:
“We must not for a moment suppose that the mere fact of being poor, and hungry, and sorrowful, and hated by man, will entitle any one to lay claim to an interest in Christ’s blessing. The poverty here spoken of, is a poverty accompanied by grace. The want is a want entailed by faithful adherence to Jesus. The afflictions are the afflictions of the Gospel. The persecution is a persecution for the Son of Man’s sake. Such want, and poverty, and affliction, and persecution, were the inevitable consequences of faith in Christ, at the beginning of Christianity. Thousands had to give up everything in this world, because of their religion. It was their case which Jesus had specifically in view in this passage. He desired to supply them, and all who suffer like them for the Gospel’s sake, with special comfort and consolation.”
The point here is that, while these words may seem odd to us, when taken in context of being intended only for those who follow Christ, they are quite comforting because of the promises that accompany them. Poverty, hunger, and sadness will be but a fleeting memory for those who are found in Christ.
(This is just a portion of a sermon I preached this past Sunday.)