Blessings and Woes
Scripture: Luke 6:17-26
The so-called “sermon on the plain” or “on a level place” is in all likelihood an abridgment of the same “Sermon on the Mount” that Matthew’s Gospel records (which itself is likely to be an abridgment of the original discourse). In this sermon, as people come from far and wide to hear Jesus and be healed by Jesus, there is much encouragement for his disciples facing potential, and actual, suffering for the sake of following Christ.
While it can be the case that following Jesus means that we are poor now, hungry now, weep now, yet at the same time we have much reason to rejoice. For we have the kingdom of God now, and what greater kingdom could there be! We are satisfied now, and what greater thing could there be than to experience true satisfaction! We have laughter now, true joy, and what greater thing could there be than to have genuine lightness of spirit and genuine affectional exuberance and joy!
So, Jesus concludes this part of his sermon, you are blessed when people hurt you on account of Jesus (6:22). What an astonishing thing to say! Let us take it to heart the next time a person reviles us for following what Jesus says in his Word. That is the truly “blessed” place to be! Why? “Your reward in heaven is great,” for that is also how they treated the prophets. God’s children have always been opposed by the world system around (which is no excuse for acting without wisdom and kindness and therefore rousing opposition based upon our foolishness—which is not the same as being opposed for the sake of Christ).
Having announced the blessings, Jesus now announces the “woes” (6:24-26). It seems good to be rich now, it seems good to be full now, it seems good to laugh now (a more superficial laughter than the one previously mentioned), it seems good to have all people speak well of us—but if we have not Christ, none of these things are any good at all. Some rich have faithfully followed Jesus, as did Abraham and David. But money does bring unique temptations. And the only sure way to avoid those temptations is to be generous with the money that you have been given.
This sermon, with its great announcements of blessings and woes, calls us to invest in the kingdom of God. To put our lives on the line following Jesus. And to do so certain not that we are missing out but that really and truly we are “blessed.” Would you this morning (re)align your life and its priorities around the truth that radically following Jesus is the truly “blessed” life?