There was once a time when the world knew not of its Savior. Yet there was hope because it had been foretold that a child would be born and called Emmanuel – God is with us. In Lent, we prepare for his coming anew. During this season, we discover for ourselves the call of salvation and the promise of eternal life.
Jesus had begun his ministry by traveling the land healing the sick. His works became known to the people and so they began to follow him. They wanted to know more about this man; they wanted to know more about God. Jesus climbed a mountain and saw the large crowd gathered below him, waiting to hear from him, needing to know more. He sat down on the mountaintop to tell them how to find heaven:
He told them how they were blessed. Blessed? These people were poor, they were mourning the distress of their neighbors, they were meek and in the grasp of the ruling authorities, they hungered and thirsted. How could these people be blessed?
Jesus kept on in telling of their blessings. He said to show mercy, have a pure heart, make peace among peoples. But the people surrounding him on the mountain were the downtrodden, the abused, and the victims of tyranny. How could they be expected to be merciful and kind, peaceful and true in the wake of their oppression?
Jesus continued. Your righteousness to my teaching will get you persecuted and evil lies will be told you about, Jesus stated. Really? How can being persecuted be a blessing?
And then Jesus told the people why:
“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:12)
Because heaven is your reward, you are blessed. In all the beautiful ways Jesus describes, you are blessed:
You are blessed when you choose God over greed,
You are blessed when you choose mourning over envy,
You are blessed when you choose heaven over earth,
You are blessed when you choose righteousness over deceit,
You are blessed when you choose mercy over condemnation,
You are blessed when you choose love over hate,
You are blessed when you choose peace over vengeance,
You are blessed when you endure persecution yet proclaim God your King.
You are blessed not in spite of your humility and modest circumstances but because of it. For these are the blessings that deliver us eternal life in heaven.
You are blessed.
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
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