Read: Luke 6:17-26
Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount is probably another time when Jesus preached to a large group, this time on a level place, a plateau, if you will. This passage provides both blessings and woes in comparison, first the blessings, then the woes. Luke leaves us with the opportunity to sense Jesus’ compassion for people, His love and desire to see people satisfied beyond measure.
I wonder about the pace and presentation, which version of ProPresenter He used, who was in the band, and all that important stuff. Did they end on time? Did they remember to pray before the offering? Hmmm. My weird sense of humor and somewhat critical spirit sneaks in. Back to the narrative.
A large crowd of His disciples
My first mistake is to refer to the twelve He chose in the verses prior to this one as disciples. They were disciples, but even more to the point, they were anointed as apostles. There were lots of disciples, but only Twelve Apostles. An important distinction to be sure, but I don’t think this was meant to be exclusive, just orderly.
The people came to hear Him and to be healed. I wonder if we could be healed just by hearing Him. Would we change our ways? Would our hearts be moved in a different direction? The healing I need most often has little to do with physical ailment, much more to do with a troubled spirit.
Here’s the sermon in parallel, one phrase at a time with its blessing and opposing woe. Interesting, yes?
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Luke 6:20, 24
The poor, not just those below the poverty income level, but those that are poor in spirit. When I am downcast, troubled, blue, defeated, lost, lonely, even depressed, I need to hear these words from Jesus. As I started to say earlier, I wonder how long Jesus waited after saying this sentence. Did He elaborate? Or did He just let the thought sink in?
The rich, those who have plenty, who do not remember what it is to be in need and are blinded to those around them.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Luke 6:21, 25
The hungry, not just those who skipped breakfast, but those who desire to know more, who ache to be filled, they will be satisfied. Like the rich, those who have forgotten what it’s like to be hungry will discover starvation awaits. This is not an easy sermon to process. I imagine Jesus telling them to gather around in groups and talk about this for a minute before moving on to the next point. I would certainly want to be the obnoxious student that says, “Wait, please explain that before moving on!!”
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Luke 6:21, 25
It’s significant that Jesus begins with a blessing before the woe. If we get nothing else out of this lesson, may we learn to look and emphasis the positive before hammering our point home with the negative.
We will laugh. O God, I can’t wait! Can that be today? The featured image on this post is one I’ve used before, but one I really like. The child’s innocent eyes are probably looking up to their loving parent. May we look to Jesus and laugh with our whole body! May our eyes glow, lips stretch, face light up with the thought of seeing Him face to face.
The proud may laugh today, but they will weep. It’s not my job to put them in their place. Lord, don’t let me wander in that place alone.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Luke 6:22, 26
Being insulted because of Jesus, being hated on and ostracized, will have it’s reward. I think it’s important that we don’t misread this statement like many we know of in Christian circles. This doesn’t say, be a jerk for Jesus and make people hate you–then God will reward you. That kind of thought process drives church people to do stupid things.
In contrast, we need to check our pride at the door when people say great things about something we’ve accomplished. The paradox is quite troubling when you think about it. I want to do that which pleases Jesus, even when it’s not popular, but I really appreciate it when someone agrees with me. I don’t want to be a false prophet, but I do want to be in the company of those who spread the Gospel. Quite challenging.
Lord, may we look forward to the day when we rejoice in heaven with You, when we leap for joy beyond human comprehension. Some days I pray that will be sooner than later, but Your will before my pitiful desire.