Thoughts on the Beatitudes (14) - Evan Gear

Matthew 5:10 — Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This week I would like to emphasize something that characterizes every one of the beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount. In each blessing that the king pronounces from that mountain there is a reference to the recipient of such blessings. I know that that is to state the obvious. Of course, there is a reference to the recipient. But let’s give our attention to the obvious for a moment because it is often the obvious that we overlook. If you go back and read verses 1-9 you will notice that the recipient is always a plurality. As we find it here in verse 10, blessed are those… theirs is the kingdom…
The blessing is pronounced to a community not to individuals. That is not to say that the individual and his or her response is erased from the equation. The individual still must respond. The individual will and does receive the blessing of their Lord but only, only as part of a greater whole, only alongside of others.
I used to think of the promises of God as something catered to and delivered specifically for me. When I said ‘Yes and Amen’ to a promise in Scripture I was saying it to something given to me alone. I read and meditated on the Bible in this way. Like picking up my morning coffee, I drank from a single serve cup with my name on it. It was me and God and we were in a personal, private relationship. Emphasis on the word private. It is this kind of thing that lends such weight to pentecostal spirituality where a word of prophecy is given to and provides direction for each person individually. Because of these things the gathering of the church often reflects the everyday experience of public gatherings out in the world. You know what it is like, we all find ourselves in one place, ears plugged with little speakers sharing the same space and activity but completely disconnected from one another. The shared space is shared privately. Like the school lunchroom, we all have our own brown bag but each of us are eating a different meal.
The Scriptures paint another picture.
Here the blessing is for me but for me as a member of the they. They shall be called sons… they shall see God… they shall receive mercy… they shall be satisfied… they shall inherit the earth… they shall be comforted… theirs is the kingdom…
It is not a school lunchroom that is reflected in God’s house, but a Thanksgiving dinner or a wedding feast. It is a great banqueting table where we are each called to sit and share in the abundant dishes set before us. As Jesus says to us each time we celebrate the supper, take and eat… Share in the blessing and promises with your fellow brother and know that what you eat, he eats too. Your dish is filled with the same abundant blessing that his is. We together “feast in the abundance of His house and drink from the river of His delights (Ps. 36:8).”
Next time you descend the stairs or go down the lane after the evening service for the meal, think about these things. Consider this reality as you see children and adults, men and women, singles and families dipping spoons and tongs into large dishes of food. Ponder these things as you share in thankfulness for the taste of this or that dessert. That meal happens around the fellowship created by the Lord and his table and promise and it points to the fact that we share it. You and I partake as individuals in the beatitude that is the property of the they. And so, it is not only mine but ours. Our promise, our blessing, our life and, looking forward to the next installment, our persecution.
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