Let us first notice in these verses, who are those whom the Lord Jesus pronounced BLESSED. The list is a remarkable and startling one. It singles out those who are "poor," and those who "hunger" — those who "weep," and those who are "hated" by man. These are the people to whom the great Head of the Church says, "Blessed are you!" We must take good heed that we do not misunderstand our Lord's meaning, when we read these expressions. 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 need is a need entailed by faithful adherence to Jesus. The afflictions are the afflictions of the Gospel. The persecution is persecution for the Son of Man's sake. Such need, 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 belief in Jesus. It was their case which Jesus had specially 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.
In the first place, our Lord explains the nature and extent of Christian charity. The disciples might ask, WHOM are we to love? He bids them "love their enemies, do good to those who hate them, bless those who curse them, and pray for those who despitefully use them." Their love was to be like His own towards sinners — unselfish, and uninfluenced by any hope of return.
What was to be the MANNER of this love? the disciples might ask. It was to be self-sacrificing and self-denying. "Unto him that smites you on the one cheek offer also the other." "Him that takes away your cloak, forbid not to take your coat also." They were to give up much, and endure much, for the sake of showing kindness and avoiding strife. They were to forego even their rights, and submit to wrong, rather than awaken angry passions and create quarrels. In this they were to be like their Master, long-suffering, meek, and lowly of heart.
If He had dealt with the world as the world dealt with Him, we would all have been ruined forever in hell.
How happy the world would be, if Christ's precepts were strictly obeyed! The chief causes of half the sorrows of mankind, are selfishness, strife, unkindness, and lack of love. Never was there a greater mistake than to suppose that vital Christianity interferes with human happiness. It is not having too much religion, but too little, that makes people gloomy, wretched, and miserable. Wherever Christ is best known and obeyed, there will always be found most real joy and peace.
Open sin, and avowed unbelief, no doubt slay their thousands. But profession without practice slays its tens of thousands.
Let us settle it in our minds, that no sin is so foolish and unreasonable as the sin which Jesus here denounces. Common sense alone might tell us that the name and form of Christianity can profit us nothing, so long as we cleave to sin in our hearts, and live unchristian lives.
Few indeed are the builders upon rocks, and great is the ridicule and persecution which they have to endure! Many are the builders upon sand, and mighty are the disappointments and failures which are the only result of their work! Surely, if ever there was a proof that man is fallen and blind in spiritual things, it may be seen in the fact that the majority of every generation of baptized people, persist in building on sand.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible