Jun17WedJune 17, 2020
Israel had been awaiting the coming Messiah for generations. They were eager to worship in the temple freely without any governmental oppression or foreign influence. They were ready to see justice prevail and for unrighteousness to be extinguished forever. Therefore, you can imagine their reactions as Jesus evoked blessings for those who were “poor in spirit” and “hungering and thirsting for righteousness.”
Where was the invitation to earthly power and sweeping reform? Why begin with these gentle ‘beatitudes’ while offering inheritance and comfort to the meek and mournful? I believe that what Jesus was doing was describing the inner ‘signs’ of converted heart.
Now, we are familiar with ‘signs’ which point to deeper realities. For example, face-coverings and distances marked in 6-feet increments are ‘signs’ that the battle against the coronavirus remains. Likewise, peaceful protests and public speeches are ‘signs’ that the work of racial reconciliation is not yet complete within our country. These ‘signs’ are not the main issues themselves but rather the outpouring of something beneath the surface which must be addressed. In a similar way, I believe Jesus’ beatitudes were pointing to a deeper reality within some hearts.
Jesus’ invitation into the ‘kingdom of heaven’ began with calls for repentance (Mt 4:17). These calls continued throughout his ministry as He said, “Repent or you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3) and “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [my name] to all nations” (Lk 24:27).
Too often, when we think of signs of repentance, we consider past events like saying the “sinner’s prayer”, going forward at a worship service, or being baptized. Now those wonderful actions certainly can accompany repentance. But Jesus addresses the current condition of the heart.
In Matthew 18:3, he said that a child-like posture is necessary for access into His kingdom. How does that connect with repentance? Well, it is both the repentant person and the child who recognizes their limitations. Therefore, Jesus began His greatest sermon by extending grace to sinners who mourn over their helpless, spiritual estate. In other words, those who truly repent.
As you meditate upon The Beatitudes this week, consider some of the following questions:
Do you see yourself as spiritually impoverished apart from God’s grace?
Do you weep over your rebellious sins?
Do you mourn the injustices that sinful actions bring upon the world?
Do you yearn for more of the Lord’s righteousness and for a spirit of patient endurance?
If childlike dependency is not within you, repent and come the gracious Father. But if it is, take some time to lament the devastating effects that sin has upon the hearts of people, beginning with yourself, and look for signs of grace which always come to God’s children.
Lord, cultivate child-like dependency within me, Amen!