I am a Jesus pusher!!!
Numerous times we have reminded you of the crowd’s reaction to the Sermon on the Mount. And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching” (Matthew 7:28). The Greek word “explesso,” translated were astonished means, “to be knocked out of your senses.” It appears that every statement in this sermon had this same affect. The first Beatitude is not less ludicrous than the last Beatitude. In the progression of going from one to the other, the astonishment accumulates until the last one is too much to embrace. We are being congratulated for being persecuted. How can this be? It becomes obvious He is not discussing the minor irritations of life, but the spiritual warfare between two Kingdoms. The fierceness of this war is as major as the contrast between the Kingdom values stated in the Beatitudes and the values of the world. It obviously becomes physical, extends into the mental, and affects the character. Our reaction to this fierce persecution is to be “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” Why didn’t He use words like “endure patiently,” “control your negative responses,” or “silently bear your burden?” He indicates we should respond like we have won the ballgame, received a substantial raise at our job, or won the new car!
There is, however, one ray of hope in this matter. Jesus gives a focus. He turns our attention completely away from the actual persecution and highlights all that is happening in Him, fostered by the persecution. We are not called to look at the pain and be glad about it. We are to look at Him until He becomes greater than the pain. Jesus establishes a pattern He will follow throughout His teaching ministry. He is our focus! I am a Jesus pusher!!!