Sunday Message for 17 February 2019: “Have a Great Be-attitude”

Today’s message focuses on the first part (Luke 6: 17-26) of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, similar to his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7).  Please note that next week’s Message Supplement will cover the second portion of the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6: 27-38).

Both the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain are concentrated versions of Jesus’ teachings, each of which contain special promises known as “Beatitudes,” declaring how righteous attitudes and behavior unleash God’s favor.  “Beatitude” originates from the Latin for “blessing” as in a deep, enduring joy.  Such a soul-empowering condition is what Jesus proclaimed in his eight Beatitudes (summarized below in Matthew 5: 3-10):

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

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

Where did Jesus deliver his Beatitudes?  The setting of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke chapter 6 was “a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people” (Luke 6:17).  It’s unknown how many people were gathered there to witness Jesus, or how many of those assembled could physically hear his words.  What is known is that Jesus’ message continues to resonate through history as today’s faithful receive and share God’s love and truth.

The magnificent Beatitudes contain deeply reassuring promises which deserve constant attention.  A consistent theme is that diverse deprivations and persecutions on earth will be compensated by God’s blessings.  Such encouragement is priceless because life is difficult and seldom do even God’s followers escape suffering.

There’s an interesting parallel structure in the Beatitudes. This is evident in how righteous persons may experience hardship in earthly terms but also how they are more than compensated by God, who promises multiplied fulfillment despite what the world takes away.  Throughout the Beatitudes there’s a sense that no matter what a hostile life heaps on you, God will overcome it.  It is profoundly uplifting to suggest that heavenly blessings more than make up for your ordeals.

The Beatitudes shine amid life’s adversity because there’s hope radiating from God, who offers strength in the same parts of your life that the world attacks.  Each Beatitude starts with “blessed,” which declares that you’re in God’s care.  Consider the first Beatitude, about being poor in spirit.  Poverty is generally not a desirable condition but the second half of that Beatitude promises the opposite of poverty, which is the surpassing richness heaven’s kingdom.  Then comes the Beatitude about mourning, which is a state of suffering a loss.  To overcome mourning, God’s faithful are promised comfort, which can be a cure for even the darkest bereavement.  Third is the Beatitude about meekness, which is the willingness to lessen selfish ambition for the sake of inheriting more than the entire earth.  The fourth Beatitude is that of hungering and thirsting, which will be overcome by divine filling.  Mercy, the subject of the fifth Beatitude, can be costly in that it requires letting go of bitterness, to which God responds with redemption.  The sixth and seventh Beatitudes honor the virtues of sincere, pure motives and making peace, both of which open the heavens as the righteous see God and become children of the Almighty.  The eighth and final Beatitude is that of being persecuted for living a pure life, which will be rewarded with that wondrous blessing of the kingdom of heaven.

Do you feel challenged by living up to the Beatitudes?  Does the lure of drawing close to God help you overcome whatever stands between you and realizing God’s promises?  A key to all this is allowing God’s Spirit to reign in your heart and mind.  As you consider the upcoming season of Lent please ask God to fulfill your desire to be a disciple of the Almighty.  Just like those persons gathered on the plain to hear Jesus long ago, open your ears and understanding to the transforming power of a renewed life.  Draw comfort from God’s promises and you’ll feel more than compensated for life’s ills, injuries and injustices.

–Reverend Hoxey

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