"When Jesus saw the crowds ..."
What did Jesus see when he looked out and saw the crowds? He saw the people who were following him? And, who followed him and hung on his every word? It doesn't appear that the spiritually rich - people who said all the right prayers and did all the correct rituals - liked what Jesus said.
In fact, the gospels paint a picture of some religious leaders, scribes, doctors of the law and the members of religious parties as quite opposed to Jesus. They didn't like what he was saying about the rich and the poor, about cleaning the outside rather than the inside of the cup, about not judging lest one be judged. They didn't like how he seemed to enjoy dinners with people who weren't spiritually rich, and how easily he talked about forgiveness and mercy. They had trouble with his being a "holy person" and his habit of rendering himself ritually unclean by coming into contact with the sick and touching them. Jesus seems to have made the spiritually elite and the successful quite uncomfortable. They were not likely in the crowd who followed him up the mountain that day.
The people who appreciated Jesus and followed him were the people on the margins of society who looked to him for comfort and healing. They were people who didn't think too highly of themselves. They were people whose humility allowed them to forgive others and dialogue with others until a peaceful understanding could be reached. They live an inner honesty and integrity - transparently simply who they are. And, they were the people who were easy to look down upon and take advantage of.
So, when Jesus looked out at this crowd, his heart must have welled up with love for these little ones. And, he told them how precious they are in God's eyes. Even when they are spiritually poor, and in grief. Even when they are very small and have to wait for justice. Precisely because they are pure and merciful and peacemakers and suffer rejection. They are very blessed. Very blessed, indeed. They will be comforted and satisfied. They will come into the presence of God with joy, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Jesus was filled with so much love for them, he could tell them the heart of the good news they will share, a good news he himself would share with us as an example for us to imitate. He told them that when they experience the full rejection and rage of the world against them for being his follower, it is at that time that they are most blessed. In fact, they can rejoice and be glad, because "your reward will be great in heaven."
Dear Lord, look out at me standing here in the crowd of people who need you. I wished I were more like the people on that hill with you that day. But, please see the poverty within me. See within me. See the times I've tried to be merciful and make peace. Let me show you the parts of my heart that are small and weary and very much in need of healing. Let me hear your words today. Let them console my heart. Let me rejoice and be glad. I want to know how blessed it is to trust in you more and more.By Andy Alexander