Luke’s beatitudes – a hard read!
Luke 6: 20-26
“Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 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.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”
At the centre of Luke’s beatitudes is Jesus, the Son of Man.
There are 4 positive stanzas and 4 negative ones each giving an outcome or a consequence.
The reign of God, satisfaction, laughter and a reward in heaven v. no more comfort, going hungry, mourning and weeping and being like the ancient false prophets.
Blessings and woes.
And at the centre is Jesus.
The Blessings are raw, they are not easy to read like Matthew’s recording of them. Blessed are the poor, not in spirit, just plain and simple, the poor, the hungry, the weeping and the hated. Blessed. More than happy as how can you be happy whilst weeping? But they are right with God, this is the meaning of blessed. These are not beatitudes to achieve, this is painful reality, it is now. The woes are not dangers but again present evils, ‘well fed now’ and ‘laughing now’.
These are hard to read. What do they mean? If this is not about what we can become and if there doesn’t seem to be any instructions of what to do, then what are they saying?
Let me simply suggest this:
- With the Son of Man at the centre of life, everything is upside down. The kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God are polar opposite. How we view things is not how God views them. So though you may think you know what is happening is not necessarily what is.
- Let me qualify this point: (There are constant examples of the rich being wonderful benefactors of the kingdom). However, Luke is suggesting that the presence of God is with those you do not think He would be with, like the down-trodden and He is not with people you think He would be with, like the false prophets.
- To be in need (whether that be from poverty, hunger, hurt or pain) is better than not needing a thing (rich, full, happy and popular) especially when Jesus is at the centre of life, for it is in Him that we are blessed. It is hard for those who don’t need to recognise a Saviour, what do they need saving from? The needy do need and that is why they are blessed.
- When I look at the least in society in every nation of the world, when I look at their suffering and when I decide to help by feeding them, helping them, holding them, lifting them up then I also experience God is here, of all the stages of the world where God could be, He is here the most, with the broken, the bruised and the forgotten. He is not here in weakness but with power, glory and great joy. There is a richness that I have never experienced and have longed for all my life. It seems that God is found in the nothing of life.