Happy Fourth of July!
And now for something completely un-American!
Most of Luke 6 is our author’s version of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7. Jesus’ sermon is shorter, but it has many of the same teachings and the same sequence of topics minus the “You have heard it was said, but I say to you” commentary on the Pharisaic reduction of the Law. I have to admit that Luke’s version of the Beatitudes has me perplexed and filled with questions today. I understand that Luke’s emphasis on social justice accounts for the differences between his version and Matthew’s, but Luke seems too either-or. I will restructure Luke 6:20-26 so the couplets come together.
Blessings on the poor: God’s kingdom belongs to you! . . . But woe betide you rich: you’ve had your comfort!
Blessings on those who are hungry today: you’ll have a feast! . . . Woe betide you if you’re full today: you’ll go hungry!
Blessings on those who weep today: you’ll be laughing! . . . Woe betide you if you’re laughing today: you’ll be mourning and weeping!
Blessings on you, when people hate you, and shut you out, when they slander you and reject your name as if it was evil, because of the son of man. Celebrate on that day! Jump for joy! Don’t you see: in heaven there is a great reward for you! That’s what their ancestors did to the prophets. . . . Woe betide you when everyone speaks well of you: that’s what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Are these very situational verses? Was Jesus speaking into situations where people were rich or poor because of injustice and oppression? Is it inherently wrong to be rich, comfortable, and happy? Must one suffer in order to enter fully the kingdom of God? Sure, there will be a reversal in the hereafter that punishes those who got rich by exploiting the poor, but what about those who were rich through acceptable avenues? Can a Christian not be well-received in society and be devoted to God?