Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
“In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”
Jesus was the light for the people in the area of Galilee as well as the people in the rest of Judea. In fact, He was and is the true light for the world. This is our hope and faith, and the greatest blessing from God. John the Baptist told about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. Yes, John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. Yes, Jesus Christ was the one, the Messiah, for whom the people in Judea were waited and waited. The life under the Roman occupation was very harsh and difficulty. Only was their comfort waiting for the Messiah who would liberate them from the Roman occupation. All persecutions would cease, and peace and freedom would come. It was their dream.
Jesus called His disciples while walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The first was two brother – Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew, who were throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. Then he called James and john sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind. The disciples called by Jesus did not hesitated at all. They suspended their lives, and followed Jesus. How about us? When called by Jesus, can we suspend our lives, and immediately follow Jesus? Peter and Andrew left their nets and boats, which were their lives, and followed Jesus. James and John jumped off from the boat to follow Jesus, where they mended their fishing nets with their father for the following day. Nothing could stop them following Jesus. Later Jesus told,
“Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62b)
God wants a single-minded follower of Jesus, who is not distracted by the world. One who can set aside all things for the Kingdome of God. Such followers can truly please God. After all, this is the true wisdom because the world is transient, and His Kingdom is eternal.
Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River. God’s message was given to the people, and God’s miracles came to them through Jesus. More and more people came to Jesus, where they could hear God’s message and healing.
One day as Jesus saw the crowds gathering, He went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around Him. He saw the hardship of the people and their pains. All were in need of God’s mercy, grace, peace and love.
Jesus opened up His mouth, and gave His blessed message:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3-10)
The above message of Jesus is known as “Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount.” This was not the message for the rich or the powerful, but the poor. It was also for those who mourned, for the meek, for the pure in heart, for the peacemaker, and for those who were persecuted.
Later day, Jesus told His disciples and the crowd, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” He talked about John the Baptist, and he lamented before the proud who were deaf and blind the truth in their unrepenting hearts. For them, there was no room at all. His message could be not seeded and grow because of their riches in their hearts without hunger and thirst of the Messiah. Their hearts were filled with the world and satisfied by the pleasures in it. The people gathered around Jesus were completely opposite. Their hearts were poor and open, and they were thirsty in hunger for mercy and righteousness, because their lives on earth were harshly and painful.
The people gathered around Jesus were eagerly waiting for God’s kingdom as hoping for many years. Their hearts were full of sorrows in the unfair treatment and persecution from the occupying Romans and those who stood with the Romans although they were part of the Israelites. At that time, tax collectors were regarded as the lowest among all sinners. They, although they are also Israelites, worked for the Romans. They simply betrayed their own people. They did not stop there. They squeezed out their own people by collecting more taxes than they supposedly lavy in order to enrich themselves. The people gathered around Jesus were suffered by the betrayers and thieves, and the Romans. The people around Jesus heard a gentle message of Jesus, “you will be comforted.”
Jesus was different. He stood right besides with those who mourned, and comfort them. Nobody could refuse His comfort, which was beyond of earth, because it was of heaven.
Differing from the proud and the powerful, the people gathered around Jesus were the meek with humble hearts. They saw all they had were taken away by the Romans throuth the hands of the greedy tax collectors. Jesus blessed them and promised for them to inherit the earth.
What a blessing!
We often see the riches of the powerful and the greedy would not last even on earth. After all, all riches are like flowers, which bloom but soon wither. The true rich are God’s blessings in our heart. The meekest in our human history was Jesus Christ who sacrificed His own life for others. Although He was the meekest, He received all the glory and power of world as well as heaven. The Roman empire was so strong and invincible, but it knelt before the meekest of all, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. The true power came from the meekest, Jesus Christ. Thus, we are encouraged and be comforted by being the meek. We will inherit the earth in Him with Jesus as co-heirs and the heaven.
Many of them in the crowd hungered and thirsted for righteousness because there were ill-treated. They were persecuted by both the foreign occupiers and their own people who worked for the Romans. No place to go tell their heartbreaks because nobody was willing to hear their heartbreaks and do something for them. All were in fear without peace, but Jesus spoke peace and comfort and poured God’s love in their hearts.
Then Jesus did not stop there. Jesus told the next step. Not just enduring the hardships, but Jesus taught for them to be merciful and pure in heart while actively pursuing peace making. Receiving mercy from God is a just beginning. None gathered around Jesus was not worthy to received God’s grace and blessings, but Jesus poured out God’s mercy unconditionally regardless the worthiness of the recipients. This is the secret of God’s mercy. Showing mercy to others who do not deserve is a true mercy, which God wants. Jesus gently taught the people gathered around Him about this secret of a true mercy of GOd.
God is always with us. God also knows our weakness. We are easily getting blind by the world. Getting friend of this world is the first step getting blind from the Truth.
Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Then what can we do? We need to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ on cross, and run our own race given to each of us. This pleases God, and our eyes continue open to see God and understand His will.
Getting even with others and our enemies is the rule of the world, being recognized as “justice” among people. If we just do what people expect, then what are we? Are we of the world, or of God? Unless we are different from the people of the world, how can we be children of God. It is irony that the people of the world in fact know who are truly children of God or not. Jesus taught us as a part of the Lord’s Prayer:
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:12-13)
One of the greatest temptations is to be even – eye to eye and tooth to tooth. This is our nature. Jesus asked for us to pray to God for us to be delivered from this strong power of the temptation and evil, because we cannot overcome by our own strength. Only is it possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is merciful, and so are we in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the trait of children of God. The people of the world seek in us.
Finally, who will have the kingdom of heaven? Those who are the poor in spirit. One who are rich in hearts with the world will not inherit the kingdom of heaven because their hearts are already filled with the world. No room left for the Word of God to be planted and to grow in their hearts. One who are poor in heart have room to receive the Word of God and rejoice in the Word so that the Word be seeded and grow toward the kingdom of heaven.
By the way, if we follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, the world will like us and persecute us, not because of our own righteousness, but because of His righteousness. Inherently, the world does not like those who belong to the kingdom of heaven. Conflicts between two kingdoms are expected. On earth, the world flex its muscle to persecute the believers being united with our enemy, Satan, who is truly zealous about us, because we are His children. Both attack us, and take us to the spiritual battle, but we do not fear because our victory in Him is sure.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Therefore, this is our faith in Him.
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
Then what we can say? We should not be discouraged or dismayed, when we are persecuted for His righteousness because we know His kingdom is ours. We are His lawful heirs and His legitimate children that nobody cannot take away. Therefore joyfully we can say, in Him, let’s stand firm on our faith, and be comforted by His grace, mercy and love under all circumstances in this world.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4)