WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Luke 6 gives us a summary of what Christians traditionally call the Beatitudes. This name comes from the Latin word beatus, meaning “blessed” or “happy,” which is how each Beatitude begins: “Blessed are you who are poor…Blessed are you who hunger now…”
For me, the word “blessed” has a lofty, spiritual sound that makes it kind of hard to feel the shock of what Jesus is saying here. To help with understanding His teaching, here’s one way I might rephrase the Beatitudes in modern language: “Those of you who are poor are quite fortunate…” Or perhaps, “Things are going well for you if you are hungry…”
When we bear that in mind, perhaps none of the Beatitudes sounds more paradoxical than this one: “Blessed are you”—How fortunate you are!—“when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil” (Luke 6:22). How on earth can Jesus suggest that such painful things reflect our good fortune?
For starters, we should understand that Jesus is speaking to those who are truly His disciples—those who have been washed in His blood and who are united to Him, sharing with Him in His inheritance. We know this because He considers those blessed who are hated “for the sake of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22). There are many reasons someone might hate you. If they hate you because you’re a liar, a thief, a murderer, a busybody, or a pervert, their hatred is a natural result of your sin, not a sign of God’s blessing. However, if people hate you because you are living in obedience to Jesus Christ—because you speak and act like a Christian—this is a great sign of God’s blessing.
Jesus is teaching His disciples that these unhappy earthly circumstances—poverty, hunger, sadness, and especially persecution—give us special opportunities to fix our eyes on the kingdom of heaven. By God’s grace, such adverse life circumstances push us to hope for the blessings God has in store for us in the life to come. God is especially pleased to shower the riches of His grace on those who have very little in the world. His joy is most beautifully displayed in those who are weighed down with grief. He delights in being a friend to the friendless. The list goes on.
We desperately need these reminders, because we are often tempted to think that suffering in this life must be a sign that something is terribly wrong, perhaps even that God has forsaken us. We’re tempted to believe that here and now, on the other side of Christ’s death and resurrection, the lot of God’s people should be one of blessing and success in the world. After all, didn’t Jesus suffer so that we don’t have to? Well, no, actually. The New Testament is very clear in teaching that a necessary part of union with Christ is sharing in His sufferings. In fact, the more we share in His sufferings, the more assurance we have of our part in His eternal inheritance.
VERSES TO MEDITATE ON
Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
HOW TO PRAY
- Adoration – Worship God for demonstrating His power through our weakness.
- Confession – Confess ways that you have preferred comfort in this life above God’s blessings in the life to come.
- Thanksgiving – Thank God for specific sufferings He has given you.
- Supplication – Ask God that He would use your sufferings to unite you to Christ and assure of your part in His inheritance.