Movies about Jesus almost always portray Him sitting on the side of a mountain, surrounded by a listening crowd, quietly delivering His epic sermon in a monotone voice. But that’s not the way my Bible reads.
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.” Matthew 5:1-2 NIV
He went up on a mountainside. He, not the crowds. His disciples came and joined Him, not the crowds. He began to teach them – His disciples, the subject of the sentence to whom the pronoun refers – not the crowds.
Jesus looked down at the dappled crowds – broken, mourning hearts here; meek spirits there; the pure-hearted and the peacemakers mingled with the persecuted and the poor – and He called them all blessed.
He wasn’t talking to the crowd, He was talking about the crowd. He was giving His disciples a glimpse of His perspective on the people who were following them. Most of them were needy and all of them were blessed. Blessed because things were about to change.
Jesus wasn’t teaching crowds of people that if they did this or that they would be blessed with this or that. He was teaching His disciples that the crowds were already blessed. Blessed because He had plans and rewards they knew nothing about.
I wonder whether there was excitement in His voice as He swept His arm slowly above the crowds of followers below and declared them blessed.
“Look at them! They are about to inherit heaven, and they have no idea.”
One of the things I love about God is that He always lets at least one person in on what He is going to do. Sometimes it is hundreds of years before He does it, sometimes it is immediately before, but He always tells someone.
“For the LORD detests the perverse but takes the upright into His confidence.” Proverbs 3:32
He takes the upright into His confidence! I love, love, love that! That day, on that mountainside, Jesus took His disciples into His confidence.
Some might think, “Who cares whether Jesus was talking to the crowd or about them?” I care. For one thing, Jesus deserves to have His story told accurately, and for another, I love the thought that He talks not only to me, but also about me:
“Look at that precious one, doing the best she can with her feeble faith; hungering and thirsting to understand what I really mean. She has no idea how blessed she is.”
Then He turned to His disciples and said, you are blessed, too. When people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me, you will be fine. You will be more than fine because you are going to have a reward in heaven. A really good reward. A really good eternal reward. All hardship and evil nonsense is temporary.
All of us who follow Jesus – the weak, the strong, the persecuted, those whose faith is old, those whose faith is new, the rich, the poor, the mourning and the dancing – we will all be fine.
This post was inspired by one I read yesterday, and especially by the author’s reply to my comment: “I kinda’ think my heart has been blessed.”
Have a wonderful day.