Luke 6:20 – 38
I like Luke’s account of the “Sermon on the Mount” (which he says actually occurred on a plain). There’s less in it, but sometimes it makes easier sense and is just a little simpler. Here’s a sort of expanded version of the Beatitudes, especially as Luke shares them (which is a little bit different to Matthew’s). Thoughts which came to my mind as I studied it this week.
From the earlier verses about this setting, it seems that Jesus was with many poor (or mostly poor?), ordinary people who came because they yearned, physically and spiritually, for help, and saw it in Him. His words and miracles gave them hope and filled them. After many had sought Him, and Christ had healed them, His power and compassion going out to them – seeing and feeling their neediness and yearnings – He said:
- You who are poor, are also blessed – you will not always be poor; blessings are yours (now) and await you because you are humble and open due to your circumstances. Don’t be discouraged; you are part of the kingdom of God – I am here, and it is come to you!
- You hunger now, but you will be filled – with truth and light, eternal life and goodness. You weep now for your pains and difficulties (as we all do), but when you are filled with the good things of the Gospel, when you have hope, and when you are in Heaven/at the Millenium, you will laugh for gladness and deep joy. You will not always weep. I have come; I am your Saviour. I will hold your sorrow.
- Be courageous, and look on your spiritual and heavenly rewards as of more worth and greatness than earthly reputation and circumstances. When others reproach you, or reject you and cast you out because you have accepted these heavenly things, including me, remember their worth. You will retain eternal blessings, including character development, peace, and joy, for your faithfulness and ability to see the real things which matter. For your dedication to them once you’ve chosen them. Hard times are ahead, but oh! they are worth it. You have chosen me, the better part.
- Remember, too, that the spiritual ancestors of those who cast you out and reproach you also did this to the prophets of the past, and everyone knows that they were blind and did wrong. They are not better because they reject you; they are worse off – the descendants of those who chose earthly things: ease, reputation, lack of needing to change, continuing in sin, pleasure, wealth – over heavenly things: love, goodness, repentance, discipleship, truth…
- You who are rich have received your blessing – if this is what you have sought, you’ve made your choice, and received your reward on earth. (Take care that it does not bind you). You who have enough to eat, or who are full and do not sense a need for more, will hunger in the future, because you are full of things which matter less, and which cannot satisfy you. Only the word of God – His truth, light, love, etc. – can fill a person and nourish them. You will hunger for this eventually, when you realise that you don’t have everything; that what you have still leaves you wanting for more.
- If those of this world praise you, it’s not because you are good, but because you do as they ask, or as they can accept. Their ancestors praised the false prophets of history. Praise isn’t an indication of righteousness, but a function of pride, fear, selfishness and small-mindedness.
The Higher Law
- Don’t praise others, or seek their praise, but love them. Do good to them. Be my disciples – have compassion, and do good to all who need it. Do not be kind and generous only to those who reward you, or like you back. That’s a natural human impulse. Go beyond that; love because you are a loving being, and want to be like your Father.
- Give, not for what you expect to get back, nor even considering what you might receive in return, but because it is good to give, and everyone needs help. Become merciful, extending help to those who don’t deserve it, because that is what God does, and because you don’t know who deserves it and who doesn’t. You’re not capable of judging that from the beginning. Be wise, but not unkind.
- Others will give back to you if you do this, but not because you seek it. It’s a natural law, and a law of human interaction; God will also give more to you because He trusts you and knows you’ll keep doing more good with it – you will aid Him in sharing it among His children, which is how He intends for it to be distributed.