The Sermon on the Mount, Part 12

Gold Bars and Riches

Why does Jesus predict misery for rich people?


But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you will hunger. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Luke 6:24–26

What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets.
Luke 6:24-26 (NLT)

Jesus opens the Sermon on the Mount by teaching his followers that what is commonly accepted as “the way things are” is not, in fact, the way things are. He offers a series of memorable sayings that redefine wealth and poverty, and he points to a day when a great reversal in fortune will occur–a day when the poor, persecuted, and marginalized will be lifted up, and the powerful, popular, and self-sufficient will be brought down.

The Sermon on the Mount, Part 11

Open Bible with cross laying on it, Why does Jesus bless the persecuted?

Why does Jesus bless the persecuted?


Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others insult you, persecute you, lie about you, and say all kinds of evil things against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad! Your reward is great in heaven, for the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Matthew 5:10-12

Blessed are you when people hate you and exclude you and insult you and slander you as evil because you follow the Son of Man! Rejoice when that happens and leap for joy! Great is your reward in heaven, for that is how their ancestors treated the ancient prophets.
Luke 6:22-23

The first seven beatitudes describe the character of Jesus’s apprentices: they will be humble, repentant, gentle, merciful, single-minded peacemakers who are intent on living in a way that honors God. The eighth beatitude does not describe another characteristic of a disciple. Instead, it explains both the blessings and consequences (persecution!) of discipleship.

Persecution comes in all shapes and sizes, but Jesus is blessing one particular group of persecuted people–those who are persecuted for “righteousness.” What is righteousness? In the context of Jesus’s sermon, righteousness is actively engaging in the pursuit of holiness–showing mercy, performing acts of kindness, making peace between enemies, and working with God in whatever projects he invites us into.

The Sermon on the Mount, Part 10

hands held together in reconciliation. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Why does Jesus bless peacemakers?


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9

The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire, for a child is born to us–a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called… Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:5-6

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:19-20

A popular internet statistic says there have been 268 years of world peace in the past 4,000 years, but I doubt that number. The history I’ve read is a continuous tale of wars and brutality. And the spirit that prompts war between nations is the same spirit that creates enmity between neighbors and schoolmates and coworkers. It even infiltrates the bedroom.

We live in a world that is filled with angry and hurting people, and peacemakers are desperately needed.

The Sermon on the Mount, Part 9

Woman hands praying with a bible in a dark over wooden table

Why does Jesus bless the pure in heart?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:8

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart…
Psalm 24:3-4

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:8

Jesus offers us the opportunity to see God, but first our heart must be pure. The sixth beatitude is both amazing and confusing. What is my heart and how does it become pure? What is purity, anyway? And what does it mean to see God? Good questions.

The heart is one of the most important concepts in the New Testament and an integral part of the Gospel. Humankind’s natural tendency is to focus on externals (how we appear to others). The Pharisees were a good example in Jesus’s day, and he had many conversations with them about the importance of aligning the inner person (the heart) with the person everyone sees.