When Jesus blesses someone in the Gospels, he blesses only a particular kind of person. As we meander through, it surprises many to learn that the select group of people he chooses to bless are not the elite at all. After the rich young ruler walked away from the invite, Jesus never offered him so much as a “bless his heart.” (Though His heart broke)
No, when He posed his famously beloved invitation to “Come to Me, all you who are…”
He wasn’t opening Himself to the establishment religion, the sophisticates, nor the self-assured, but to the most, well, unlikely sort.
Jesus labels them ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘smoldering wicks’ (Matt 12:20). Now, nobody wants to be labeled, am I right? But when Jesus qualifies a soul, nobody seems to complain.
“Bruised reeds” were tall, hollow blades of grass growing along waterways. Often the winds would blow and pummel them until they were low-slung and clinging for all they’re worth to their root. Sometimes fishermen stepped on them and pushed them into the earth – or broke them off altogether.
✅This is a person barely hanging on…clinging to whatever vestige of life remains.
It is essentially useless because it grows in uninhabitable, marshy places. A reed is easily overlooked, but a BRUISED reed has been overtly rejected and deemed unfit.
Bruised reeds wonder why they even exist at all…
A “smoldering wick” was found in oil lamps where the fire had been snuffed. A wisp of smoke was all that was left of a light source where once played heat and fire, but now had lost its soul.
✅These once held passionately to a belief system, once dared to dream, faced life head-on, danced on the razor’s edge, lived with purpose, but life turned on them!
They’re finding it hard to believe again. They are hard-pressed to trust again.
Simon Peter was just such a smoldering stick until Jesus re-lit him and made him a lamp for the Church. Double-whammy, the grizzled fisherman-turned-disciple-turned-miserable-coward felt like a stepped-on common blade of long grass until Jesus replanted him in a garden bed on the King’s estate.
Ah! But when Jesus comes along and tips their chin up with the crook of his finger, when he trims and redresses their wick to a reusable potential, the unlikely suddenly make the most sense in the Kingdom. Why? They get it. They see the Treasure in the field and, suddenly, nothing else makes sense to them.
The only things that register to them – the only things that matter, that make perfect sense – are the EIGHT THINGS that enliven them and set them on fire.
We call them “beatitudes.” Recently I looked them over again in my quiet time and this is how they looked through fresh eyes:
Blessed are those with no shot at the so-called ‘American dream’ and have hopelessly given up (Matt 5:3)
…who realize it points to a deeper and more invasive problem and are taking responsibility for it (v4)
…who have no recourse but to reduce themselves by waving the white flag of surrender (v5)
…who are drawn at great risk to a better Way than they’ve ever known (v6)
…who, having discovered Life, make it their sole mission to go to the pit they came out of – if need be (and need be!) – to rescue the perishing (v7)
…who want no praise for themselves, only redemption for others and justice for the oppressed (v8)
…who know this requires courage screwed to the sticking post because it puts them a true straights between the two poles of society, calling for their offending the establishment necessarily so as to mediate healing between perpetrator and oppressed (v9)
…who will gladly do so on threat of peril and injustice to themselves, gladly enduring the cross meant for another so as to be Jesus to a broken world and alleviate its suffering (v10).
It’s highly unlikely anyone would sign on for this life unless they’re happily populated among the company of the elite a.k.a. the Unlikely – the “whosever wills” who have felt their sagging hopes lifted and spent fires stoked.
Blessed are the Unlikely who see it, want it, and get it.
By God’s electing grace.