Sunday 02 November 2014

Bible Book:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (v.10)

Matthew 5:1-12 Sunday 2 November 2014


The "kingdom of heaven" (associated uniquely withJesus) defies definition. It is a gift from God of suchextraordinary significance and value that it can only be alluded toin parables and cryptic sayings. It is a transformational power forthose who receive it or grasp it. It releases people from whateverdistorts, corrupts or constricts their lives. And it sets them freeto live a holy life, full of joy and hope, as disciples of Jesus -serving others, especially the poor and needy; and struggling forjustice and peace in society.

Who is most likely to receive the blessing of sogreat a gift? Verses 3-10 (The Beatitudes) give us a sketch.(Verses 11-12 are tagged on to verse 10 through the linked theme ofpersecution.)

Verses 3 and 10 (they alone use the phrase "thekingdom of heaven") go to the heart of the matter: the poor inspirit and those persecuted for righteousness' sake enjoy thekingdom:

  • Verse 3 is about people whose hold on life is fragile; they arefrail and vulnerable; or they are deeply depressed; or 'thestuffing has been knocked out of them' (The grieving, verse 4, areone example of the "poor in spirit".)
  • Verse 10 (so obviously linked to verse 6) refers to godlypeople who are abused, tortured or bullied because they stand upfor what is right and good in spite of intolerable pressure tocollude with wickedness or to compromise. (They are close kindredto the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart and the peacemakers ofverses 5, 7-9.)

So, the focus is on victims of harshcircumstances, people of moral integrity and people who suffer fordoing what is right. If their hearts are open to God, theirs is thekingdom of heaven. Such a gift fills their lives with happiness andmakes them, spiritually speaking, miraculously fruitful.

To Ponder

  • Can you recall a personal experience of desolation or gravedanger when - against all expectations - you discovered an innersense of peace or joy, coupled with energy to face the future? Howhave you been helped to praise and thank God for this?
  • "All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to donothing." What are the evil things about which we are indifferenttoday? How could you make a difference?
  • How do we identify with Christians (and other minority groups)being harassed and persecuted, even killed, in some parts of theworld? What practical things can we do on their behalf?

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