Luke 6:20-23 –

[20] And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

[21] “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

[22] “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Is this the same sermon as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7? There are many similarities but enough differences that it may indeed be a whole different occasion.

Verses 20-23 are Luke’s account of the Beatitudes. The first four of these beatitudes relate to those who suffer in some way and yet who can rejoice because of what awaits them in the future. Those who are poor are in the Kingdom of God. Those who are hungry will be satisfied. Those who are sad will rejoice. Those who are opposed have great reward in heaven.

The word “blessed” appears at the beginning of each of these sayings. Those who are poor, hungry, weeping and opposed can all know blessing. One way of translating this word “blessed” is “happy” and that is very appropriate. It is deeper than mere happiness but not less than what we normally think of as happiness.

In the midst of poverty, tears, and persecution there can be a deeper happiness that none of those things can eradicate. Some have criticized the Christian faith for its emphasis on eternal happiness in the midst of a miserable present. This is not what Jesus is indicating here. He is saying that there can be real happiness now even if the poverty, hunger, tears and persecution are a part of their lives. That real happiness is because of the great things that God does for them now and has in store for them because of their faith. Their current situation does nothing to erase those great blessings.

Happiness. How many people are happy? And how many professing believers are as miserable as everyone else simply because they think that happiness is related to possessions, pleasant circumstances, health or money? Christians need to be showing the world that no matter what our circumstances are we are blessed and we are glad for our blessings.

I tell my church the story of the time I met a man in Malawi, South Central Africa, with no fingers, no toes and no eyes, due to leprosy. The day we met we asked him how he was feeling and he replied “I am content in Jesus.” This is a perfect example of what Jesus is talking about. I am sure that he would have liked to be completely healthy, to be able to see and be mobile and care for his family. But the fact that he could not did not destroy him or make him charge God with wrong. His attitude condemns me and probably most people who have more material goods and health than he ever could have imagined. He died several weeks ago and got to really see the truth of what Jesus was saying. And one day he will have a new body and his contentment will be off the scale.

We should cultivate this sense of blessedness that Jesus says is ours because of His work for us and our faith in Him. It is real. It is powerful. It is not pie in the sky when you die by and by. It is a faithful God telling us why we can be happy no matter what our circumstances are. What a God.