Poor and Happy

When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.

Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
“God blesses you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
God blesses you who are hungry now,
for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now,
for in due time you will laugh.

What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. (Luke 6:17-23)

Jesus often said things contrary to common sense. The last people in the world that anyone might think of as blessed were the very people Jesus addressed. The word translated as “blessed” simply means “happy.” Jesus said that the poor—those who were hungry and weeping—were happy. Certainly not the obvious conclusion.

Why did Jesus say such people were happy? Because they were the one’s closest to God, that he paid the most attention to, and so the kingdom of God belonged to them.

Jesus spoke to crowds everywhere he went. And he taught much the same thing to everyone. The words that we find in the Sermon on the Mount got reused in other times and other places. So, in Luke’s gospel, the words that were part of that Sermon on the Mount in the other gospels were repeated on a plain near the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

In a world that, like ours, defined happiness by how much wealth you had, how big your house was, and how much power you wielded, Jesus’ words were a startling breath of fresh air. The kingdom of God was something the poor in spirit possessed by virtue of their relationship with God. We can experience God’s kingdom now, thanks to God’s presence in our lives. No matter our circumstances, the blessing of God exists for us now, because God is with us now. When we have God, Jesus said, we really have everything we need.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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