Luke 6:17-36 “Blessings, Woes, and Love”
Last week we looked at the process Jesus went through as He selected his Apostles. He sought the Father, stepped out in faith and trusted God for the outcome.
After he did that it says he went down to a level place and he preached to the crowd what is commonly called the sermon on the plain.
Now, this sermon will have some ties to some of last weeks’ thoughts on prayer. Last week we looked at God’s answers to prayers often bringing pain, or failure, or distress because God is more concerned with your good than your happiness. This week we will see a similar vein as we look at how we are received by others. Jesus pronounces blessings on some people, and woes to others.
Jesus is gathering all his disciples and he spoke to them to prepare them for the work that lay ahead for them. Because their lives would change if they were to go all in with Jesus and truly follow Him.
Big Idea: Speak truth and love evil doers, with the motivation to please God and not man.
Blessings: Poor—-> Kingdom of God
Hungry—->will be satisfied
Reviled—>rejoice “in that Day”
The people who Jesus calls blessed are people who have no earthly riches, no abundance of food, no prominent standing in society. They are not living on the top. they have known loss and know want and need. they are in touch with their earthly weakness, and they have done this for the sake of Christ.
Woes: Rich—>have already received your reward
full—>Will be hungry
Laugh—>will mourn and weep
Spoken well of—>You might be a false prophet
These are people whose lives are marked by earthly comforts and pleasures. They see what is in front of them and they live to pursue those things. They are satisfied in themselves and are not aware of their spiritual poverty. They are often self reliant and self righteous. There is danger in great wealth because of the temptation to believe it was your doing that got you that wealth. There is great danger in being able to eat your fill because you are tempted to trust in your abilities to get more food without having to go to the Lord to provide.
Love: How do you treat your enemies? Love them
-those who hate you? do good to them
-those who curse you? bless them
-those who abuse you? pray for them
-the one who strikes your cheek? offer the other
and so on.
Now, let me ask you this question. Do you think Jesus is talking about poor people who are just down on their luck? do you think He is talking about people who are victims of circumstance, or generational poverty? For sure, those people are in the heart of Jesus, and he cares about them a great deal.
Do you notice the parallel in these verses, the blessings and the woes? Why do you think he references the prophets?
Well, it seems to me that there is more to this teaching than just if you are poor, you will be blessed. I believe what he is saying in some respects is this: “If you follow me and if you are my disciples, you will be sent into this world to proclaim the good news of Jesus. You will be sent, like the prophets of old to tell the people in this world that they will surely parish if they continue in their ways. Furthermore, if you speak to these people and tell them this news, it is likely that they will take away your things, they may not do business with you. They will revile you, and speak ill of you. If you are following my commands and proclaiming this news, and you find yourself poor, and hungry and reviled. But if you are living a life of people pleasing and ear tickling, you will get the reward you are looking for…
Ultimately, this is a call to worship. Jesus is laying out the cost of discipleship. If you stand on truth, these things will happen, but if you you realize that there is something worth more than people’s good opinion and money and food, you will pursue that thing above all else…
“The difference between a false prophet and a true prophet is very simple. A false prophet will tell you what you want to hear. A true prophet will tell you what you need to hear.” -Dr. Tony Costa
Now, for the hardest part of this, when you encounter these things, what is the Christian response? Love!
We are called to love those who revile us and take away our possessions because of our witness, we are called to offer the other cheek to those who strike us…
What does this look like? Well, it doesn’t look like a lot of what I hear and see “Christians” doing and saying today.