Don't Be Afraid

Sandy Zull

READ : Matthew 10:16-33 Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11) Jesus completes his teaching on blessings by expanding on the worse part of the covenant vow “for better or worse.” The “worse” (and sometimes the worst!) will happen to you, and it will happen in this way, he says. You will be reviled, you will be persecuted, evil will be spoken falsely …

Our True Home

Sandy Zull

READ : Matthew 11:1-11 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. (Matthew 5:10) Here we have the final blessing of Jesus, the grand finale in his magnificent beatitudes. By this point we might expect him to point out one last pathway for us to find our way into heavenly bliss. We have already been promised the kingdom of heaven, comfort, inheritance of the earth, a filling of righteousness, the gift of mercy, the sight of our God, and …

One of the (New) Family

Sandy Zull

READ : Philippians 4:1-7 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9) Jesus, Prince of Peace, where is our peace? Thousands of years have passed and still we long for peace. We watch televised accounts of war and destruction the world around. We see brokenness and conflict in our families, our communities, our churches, and we pray, “How long, O Lord, how long?” In our heart of hearts we own that we have become …

To See God

Sandy Zull

READ : Isaiah 6:1-7 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8) Well, there it is. Even with great effort and Christ at our side this beatitude sets an unreachable standard. No one is pure of heart. Even if we were to attempt it, the very endeavor would trigger such a degree of self-conscious self-righteousness as to annihilate the possibility of success. The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard provides some help in his book Purity of …

Give to Get

Sandy Zull

READ : Luke 10:25-37 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7) “Always do right. It will gratify some and astonish the rest.” Harry Truman kept this Mark Twain quote on his presidential desk. Twain’s comment is humorous but it is also cynical. He is very hard on the human race. God, understanding how deeply divided our souls are, sent his Son to show us another way of being. Jesus who is righteousness is also God’s mercy …

A Little or a Lot

Sandy Zull

READ : Amos 5:14-24 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6) “Fill my cup, Lord,” we sing, and right here Jesus promises that he will fill it. But as with most of the beatitudes, this promise comes with a requisite demand. Jesus’ promise of filling is strictly limited to those who first “hunger and thirst.” The hungry and thirsty in our culture are invisible to most of us. They exist primarily …