“Are You A Disciple of Jesus?”
I want to start with something funny that I found on an internet site: “Satan’s Beatitudes.” Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, and too distracted to spend an hour once a week with their fellow Christians in the church because they are my best workers. Blessed are those who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked because I can use them in my business. Blessed are those who are touchy. Soon they will stop going to church because, verily, they shall be my missionaries. Blessed are those who sow gossip and trouble because they are my beloved children. Blessed are those who have no time to pray because they are my prey. Blessed are those who gossip because they are my secret agents. Blessed are you when you read this and think it has everything to do with other people and nothing to do with you because I’ve got room for you at my inn.
I want to repeat the last line, “Blessed are you when you read this and think it has everything to do with other people and nothing to do with you,” because you are a disciple of Jesus or a prospective disciple of Jesus. You may have heard the word “Beatitudes” as often as the phrase “the disciple of Jesus.” As often as we have heard them, we used to regard them as our nametags, which we freely receive. It is similar to those who come to church once a year on Christmas and pretend they are Christians. To be called Christian or a disciple of Jesus is not a free nametag, but is for those who practice Jesus’ teachings in everyday life. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the One who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
I want to ask you if you are a disciple of Jesus. The phrase “the disciple of Jesus” does not mean a person who learns about who Jesus is and what Jesus taught as a theory, but also a person who lives them out in daily life. In today’s scripture, as we see 5:1-2, there are two sorts of people: one is the crowds; the other is his disciples. They moved together with Jesus wherever Jesus went. However, their purposes for following Jesus were very different. While the crowds followed Jesus to watch miracles and get any benefits, such as healing or feeding, the disciple followed him to learn his teachings and life. Verses 1 and 2 say, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak and taught them. When Jesus sat down on the Holy Mountain, among many people, only his disciples came closer to Jesus to listen to him and dedicate their lives to the kingdom of God.
What kind of people do you belong to? Are you the crowd or the disciple? While the crowd were onlookers who kept a distance from Jesus, the disciple was like a family member to Jesus, eating at a table, sleeping at a place, and dedicating their lives to the kingdom of God.
“The Beatitudes” sounds like an ideal attitude of Christians, which could never be practiced. However, Jesus wanted his disciples to live his teachings out in their everyday life. Therefore, it is a virtue Christians should practice in everyday life. Jesus began his public ministry by calling his first disciples from the task of fishing for fish to the task of fishing for people (Matthew 4:18-22). Therefore, it is for those who would be ready to fish for people.
Let’s try to understand the Beatitudes. A key principle is “blessedness.” This is a refrain that runs throughout verses 5-10; those are blessed who are poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, and are persecuted. The word “blessed” does not mean “holy,” and neither does it mean “happy” in the sense of being in a good mood. Rather, the word “blessed” refers to a fortunate state of life. If it is so, it sounds like more nonsense. How could they be blessed? They seemed to be unfortunate. Are they who are poor in spirit fortunate? Are those who are persecuted fortunate? It may surprise us that Jesus speaks these words about those whose present circumstances that seem so unfortunate.
How could we live like those who are blessed in the Beatitudes? You may say, “We live in a chaotic world full of fight, competition, struggle, and jealousy, but not in the kingdom of God yet.” Yes, it is true. You are right. But, as Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, the Kingdom of God comes near,” he wanted his disciples to bring the kingdom of God with him into the world. In other words, Jesus wanted his disciples to transform the world by loving God and loving others. The kingdom of God is the place God is the king. If you live in a God-centered mind, spirit, and soul, you live in the kingdom of God. In other words, Jesus speaks the Beatitudes from a kingdom perspective. The Beatitudes extend his proclamation of the good news by applying the presence of the kingdom of God to the poor and persecuted. In other words, those who possess the kingdom of God are “blessed.” If you are in the kingdom of God, you are blessed, right?
Let’s see verses 3 & 10. Only two verses have the present tense, while the rest have the future tense. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Because the kingdom of God is theirs currently, the poor in spirit and the persecuted are blessed. Again, because they live in the kingdom of God, they are blessed.
Jesus calls us and gives us a radical vision to see the kingdom of God. Even though we live in a chaotic world, we may live partially in the kingdom of God. As when we share our possessions with those in need, we taste the kingdom of God. It is like a felt blessing that we have something to share. It is like a felt blessing we have the physical strength to work for the church, community, and the people of God. It is like a felt blessing that we have a mind laughing and sharing with others even though we have limited resources. It is the life of the disciple of Jesus. It is a life of loving God and our neighbors. It is likely the Apostle’s confession, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The disciple of Jesus lives in the kingdom of God, staying in the world. We may see and taste the kingdom of God partly in our daily lives, but it is coming soon in its entirety when we see the kingdom of God and live it out fully. Thanks be to God. Amen!