The Kingdom of Heaven: Light in the Darkness

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

(Matt. 5:13-16)

This passage comes right on the heels of “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you.”

I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

It’s often easy for us – especially if we’ve grown up in the church and are already familiar with a passage, to accept the separations of chapters and verses and miss the broader context and flow of meaning. But Jesus’ sermon wasn’t a random hodge-podge of various topics.

So why did He go from a discourse on the blessings of persecution to suddenly talking metaphors of light and dark? Continue reading

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Blessed are the Persecuted

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Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before you.

(Matt. 5:11-12, NKJV)

The Beatitudes are full of irony. The poor become rich, the sad find comfort, those willing to be ruled become rulers, and the hungry are filled – while the rich become poor, the full become hungry, and the happy become full of sorrow.

But perhaps the greatest irony is found in the very last Beatitude: “Blessed are the persecuted.” Continue reading