In chapter five we read what is called The Beatitudes, where Jesus speaks blessings over the crowds. In my red letter version of the Bible, it is easy for me to skim over verses one and two because I see lots of red coming in verse three (meaning Jesus is directly speaking). But the first phrase of verse one is worth contemplating. It says, “Now when Jesus saw the crowds…”.
As Jesus looks at the people who gathered, I don’t believe He sees them as a big crowd who needed to be corralled but as individuals with stories and struggles and past disappointments and hearts that needed the leading of a gentle shepherd.
And so He begins to speak blessings over them. His words are filled with comfort for those who know they are spiritually bankrupt or are experiencing persecution (Matthew 5:3,10), words of encouragement for those who turn over the reigns of life to God (Matthew 5:5), words of hope for those who seek to do what is right (Matthew 5;6, 11-12), and words that reveal great expectations for those who desire to take every thought captive and make it obedient to the Lord (Matthew 5:6-9).
They are words spoken to real live people to bring hope. Jesus saw the crowds, and we have the opportunity to see them too. We see them next door, a neighbor in need of a kind word or a helping hand. We see them at the grocery store or restaurant or gas station: a bag boy we can invite to church, a waiter we can encourage with a kind tip and a sincere prayer, and an attendant whom we can look in the eyes and ask for God’s compassion and understanding about their circumstances. We see them at work, yes…even those with whom we have difficulty, we have an opportunity to bless through peaceful speech and by avoiding the judgment of their thoughts! We see them at the sports field, where we can be strategically praying and engaging with those whom God is placing in our path. We see them everywhere if we … just … will.
Ours can be a life filled with blessing others. We must see that as our mission and follow the example of our Savior.
As we seek to bless others, Lord, we pray that the most needed blessing of all - saving knowledge of You - will be realized in the lives of those we encounter and encourage today.
Matthew 5:1-12 (ESV):
1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.