The Divine Conspiracy: Chapter 4 Who is Really Well Off? - The Beatitudes (p. 115-122)
This section of Willard's writing reminds us that Jesus, through the Beatitudes, and other biblical passages, emphasizes that the Kingdom of God is readily available to all people, including individuals who tend to be disregarded and discarded in society.
"The Beatitudes serve to clarify Jesus' fundamental message: the free availability of God's rule and righteousness to all of humanity through reliance upon Jesus himself."
"Thus by proclaiming blessed those who in the human order are thought hopeless, and by pronouncing woes over those human beings regarded as well off, Jesus opens the kingdom of the heavens to everyone."
In Luke 4 :18-19, when Jesus opened and read the scroll, he read from Isaiah, and told the people that He was the anointed one to "proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to announce that captives are released, that the blind have their sight, that the oppressed are empowered, and that this is a time when the Lord's favors are open to people.
"Clearly this is the same type of list found in the Beatitudes of both Matthew and Luke. It is a list of people humanly regarded as lost causes, but who yet, at the hand of Jesus, come to know the blessing of the kingdom of the heavens."
When John the Baptist was imprisoned, he sent one of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one who was to come. Jesus responded, 'The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are revived, and the poor hear some real good news.'
"Note here the list of 'hopeless cases' that are blessed through the sufficiency of God to meet them in their appalling need. The personal ministry of Jesus from his present kingdom brings them beatitude."
Many biblical writings "celebrate this theme of God's hand lifting up those cast down and casting down those lifted up in the human scheme. The reigining of God over life is the good news of the whole Bible: 'How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" Isaiah 52:7
We simply cannot not pay attention to Jesus's proclamation and demonstration of making the 'firsts' last and the 'lasts' first throughout his life and teachings.