Sit down and let Jesus see you – Crosswalk the Devotional
Sit down and let Jesus see you: embellish the beatitudes
by Shawn McEvoy
He climbed a mountain slope and sat down … and he started teaching them … (Mt 5: 1-2)
I don't really appreciate the way I learned the Beatitudes.
I am now in my late forties and think I am only beginning to understand what is happening in this passage at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, thanks to a fantastic sermon and a sweet, wonderful context.
For decades I was able to rattle "Blessed are the poor in spirit … blessed are those who mourn … blessed are the meek". Because I was given this passage to remember myself as a church child. And it sounded deep and beautiful, but also a little empty and absent. I had learned that Matthew 5: 2-12 was a passage known as The Beatitudes, and that the word "blessed," repeated here nine times, meant "happy."
But the people listed here didn't sound very happy to me. Even more, when I knew that these words came from Jesus, it sounded as if the Lord was commanding his followers to be dejected mourners and peacemakers who are meekly persecuted. One of those examples of a wrong life in the kingdom of God that we know was part of the teaching of Christ.
I don't think this text shows this.
Think about where this passage appears. These are the FIRST WORDS of the Sermon on the Mount. The beginning. The first thing Jesus has to say after seeing the crowd from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordan region referred to at the end of Chapter 4. He had taught and healed and announced the good news. and many gather.
And what kind of people are in this crowd? I think we know. We know because this is the introduction to the greatest uninterrupted lesson we have recorded from Jesus. In an introduction, it is customary to address your audience directly.
Our Lord, we are told, sees the crowd. He goes to a higher place to see them, then sits down and rests between them. I can imagine a lot of eye contact and a few deep breaths before Christ, who looks into their souls and knows every cell of their body, speaks directly to their hearts and the problems of their lives that have brought them to their feet. He points to a group nearby and says: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them."
What a strange way to start a sermon.
Unless it's actually the nicest way to talk to someone.
After all, who are the “poor in spirit”? I never really knew until I heard a sermon about that sermon while I was being treated for anxiety and depression. For the first time in my life, I was definitely referring to being “poor in spirit”.
And Jesus continues his way through the crowd and next finds those who mourn. His heart breaks for them too. Perhaps he will then meekly see someone lurking shyly on the edge. He knows that some are there because they have a deep and wounded sense of justice and long for truth and justice. He finds some who are compassionate and may be suppressed or exploited in life. He sees the pure and the peacemakers and knows how lonely these guys can be, but tells them that they see God and are called children – part of his family. And finally the persecuted, the outcast, the outsiders who still dare to go see him.
He sees and speaks to all of them, all these guys who want to know God.
HE SEES HER. He sees you. Before Jesus has anything else to say, He sees you. He also knows what you're going through. He knows that it is exactly this state that brought you to him, whether you are pure in heart or poor in spirit, in a way that thirsts for itself or does not need anything, could never do.
And he wants you to know: I not only see you, you have not only brought your character or your current life situation to me, but I have a nugget for each of you, a warm blanket for your cold, a silver lining to your cloud .
You, poor in spirit, feel uncomfortable in this world. Jesus sees you and wants you to know that your kingdom is the kingdom of heaven. There will come a time when you know peace and a deep, rich purpose. There is reason to hold on to faith.
You, mourner, you feel abandoned and lost. But Jesus sees you and wants you to know: lean against those who pamper you, cry with you, feed you and comfort you. It's a good, good feeling, and one that you can surely pass on to others one after the other.
You feel meek, mild, and powerless. Jesus sees you. He knows things are not easy, but he wants you to know that you have an inheritance! Nothing is given to the meek in the world. Jesus says that he intends to give them everything. Talk about a silver lining.
You, the Merciful, Jesus sees you. He knows your forgiving heart and he knows that sometimes it makes you feel ignored. He also knows that if you treat others the way you want to be treated, you will be shown mercy.
So it goes on and on through the list.
Before teaching anything, Jesus lets you know that he will see you there, to learn from him, that he will appreciate how exactly this has brought you to him, and that there is little good news on the flip side of your coin .
What a difference! This is far less a commandment of how you should be than an acknowledgment and empowerment of how those who are already coming to Christ are.
Take a break on this hill now and walk calmly, quietly, with wisdom and insight into the Beatitudes, considering what brought you first to Jesus' feet. And how exactly this condition led to you being called blessed.
Faith and life overlap: Go ahead and take a look at the next thing Jesus has to say. After seeing you the way you are and giving you the result of your situation, he wants you to bring everything straight back into the world. You and your situation are needed. You and your situation give life flavor and light in the dark. People will refer to you. You will see how you live in the midst of difficulties for the hope of your promise. Salt and light – how tasteless and dark our lot would be without YOU!
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