Through vivid symbolism, Jesus was making a clear condemnation of the religious rulers who took it on themselves to judge who was in and who was out of God’s favor.
I feel betrayed by his silence and apathy, or at least by what looks like silence and apathy to me. As my son said, “How am I supposed to trust anyone when they tell me they care about me after this?” How do I trust God’s love for me when it feels like God is less concerned with justice, truth, and kindness than I am?
For some reason we have pictured Hell storming toward us. If that was the case, hiding in the bubble of the Christian community would make sense. That would mean that we are in a defensive position. However, if this is the image that we get when we think of the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, we have gotten it backwards. Gates are not offensive weapons; they indicate a defensive, buttressing position.
What could not be learned from Christ alone is that God’s movement toward us occurs not in spite of our sin, but precisely because of it. Our sin is NECESSARY to reveal God’s mercy, and in an unexpected, fabulous shift, sin gives birth to grace.
The beatitudes, I believe, are given with the exact same point. They are about the character of the people of God (the “blessed” if you will). Each applies to all followers of Jesus. They are statements about who we are. The beatitudes are not encouragements or exhortations for us to act a certain way. They are statements about the reality of our blessed-ness.