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Luke 6:17-6:26
Key Verse: 6:20

Today we will study the beginning part of the Sermon on the Plain in Luke’s gospel. This sermon on the Plain is comparable to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel. While the Sermon on the Mount is long covering 3 chapters in Matthew’s gospel (5-7), the Sermon on the Plain covers less than one Chapter in Luke’s gospel. So some say the Sermon on the Plain is the summary version of Sermon on the Mount. In the same way Beatitudes in Luke’s gospel is shorter than Beatitudes in Matthew’s gospel. So as we move along, we will use the Beatitudes in Matthew’s gospel as reference for this passage.

While Matthew’s Beatitudes consist of eight blessings, Luke’s Beatitudes consist of four blessings and four woes that mirror four blessings. So we will compare and contrasts each blessing and woe that mirrors that blessing.

The term ‘Beatitudes’ came from Latin adjective ‘beatitido’, which means ‘happy’, ‘fortune’, and ‘blissful.’ So ‘Blessed are you” has the same meaning of ‘How happy are you.” In this Beatitudes Jesus is saying that these blessings and happiness come from poverty, hunger, weeping, and rejection. What a shocking statement it is! Do you agree with that? These things are what we hate and try hard to avoid in our life. But may God give us insight and inspiration of what Jesus means to be truly happy, as we meditate on this word of Jesus today.

Look at verse 17. “He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon,” After appointing the Twelve Apostles, Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place. There were a large crowd of his disciples and a great number of people from all over the country. Look at verse 18 and 19. “who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.” They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, and there was a great healing work through Jesus.

Then what did Jesus do? Look at verse 20. “Looking at his disciples, he said…” Now Jesus began to deliver his Sermon on the Plain. Who are the audience? They are his disciples, including the Twelve Apostles. They are the believers who decided to follow Jesus. Therefore, we also belong to the audience of Jesus’ Sermon.

First, “Blessed are you who are poor…” Let’s read verse 20. “Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.’” Here, ‘poor’ in ancient Greek vacaburary has the meaning of ‘severe poverty.” How can the severe poverty become blessing? Those who experienced severe poverty know what it means. Let’s think about it. Poor people are those who do not have much, or in extreme cases nothing. They have no resources within themselves. So those people also become poor in heart as well. But what Jesus meant is more than economic poverty. When we see Jesus’ words in Matthew, it becomes clear. Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Here Jesus means that this state of heart that is poor is truly blessed. Jesus concerns the poverty of our heart. It is the state of heart being emptied all the things of this world and sinfulness of flesh such as pride, greed, and selfishness. This poor and humble state of heart is God’s blessing. We see the best example in Jesus. Even though he was the Son of God, he emptied himself and became poor until he had no place to lay his head. He had nothing within himself except humility and obedience to God. It was also the heart state of his disciples who left all for Jesus. To such people, God is pleased to give his kingdom. In Luke 12:32, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Such people can see God and possess the kingdom of God. God is happy to be their God and rules and guides their life, and their relationship with God becomes the most important thing in their life. Then what happens to the rich on the contrary? Look at verse 24. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” Who are the rich? They have much, and they are comforted with what they have. Because of what they have, they become proud, arrogant, greed and selfish. They have no part in the kingdom of God because they have already received all the comfort in this life. So do not envy the rich. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Those who have the kingdom of God are truly rich people.

Second, “Blessed are you who hunger now..” Let’s read verse 21. “Blessed are you hunger now, for you will be satisfied.” Extreme hunger follows severe poverty. How can the extreme hunger be a blessing? There is a saying, “If a man starves for three days, he will climb over the fence of his neighbour’s house.” Hunger is the hardest thing to endure. Hungry people will find food eventually no matter what. Hunger is such a powerful driving force for survival and satisfaction. When Jesus said this, he was saying something more than physical hunger. Look at Matthew 5:6. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Jesus was talking about spiritual hunger according to Matthew. Those who hunger for righteousness and hunger for God are truly blessed because God fill them with spiritual food and drink and all kinds of heavenly blessings. Do you have such a spiritual hunger for God? Then you will be satisfied. Through this spiritual huger, we experience satisfaction in God. The more we are satisfied with God, the more our hunger for God grows. But what happens to those who are well fed now? Look at verse 25. “Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” Jesus warns us to watch out our self-sufficiency and spiritual complacency.

Third, “Blessed are you who weep now...” Look at verse 21b. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Weeping people are grieving and mourning people. Now in South Korea people are grieving and mourning because many lost their beloved ones. But how can those weeping people be blessed? Here we can think of two kinds of sorrows. Look at 2 Corinthians 7:10. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Godly sorrow is what leads us to repentance and restoration of relationship with God. Tear of repentance is the most beautiful thing in God’s sight. Those who mourn for their sins will experience God’s forgiveness and the restoration of his soul in the grace of Jesus. They will laugh endlessly because of the joy that comes from the right relationship with God. But worldly sorrow is useless suffering that brings death. We must turn our worldly sorrow into godly sorrow that leads to salvation. Then our weeping will turn to laughing. The eyes of God’s people should not run dry. They must be filled with tears of repentance before God and tears of prayer for God’s flock. But what happen to those who laugh now? Look at verse 25b. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.” These people are spiritually shallow people. They only like fun and entertainment at the present, but they are not serious of their life and their destiny. In the end mourning and weeping will visit them.

Then what is the last, but not the least, blessing that Jesus was talking about? Look at verse 22. “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” Have you ever been hated, rejected and insulted? How did you feel? Do you feel blessed? Here, what is important is ‘Because of the Son of Man’ We are blessed when we are persecuted because of Jesus, our Saviour and Lord. Why? Look at verse. 23. “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy. Because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets” “Leap for joy” literally means ‘Dance!” It is paradox to be so happy when so hated. But these persecuted ones can because their reward is great in heaven. Also, when we are persecuted, we must know that we are in good company. For that is how the prophets were also persecuted.

In this generation, especially in this multi-religious environment, sincere Christians who uphold the gospel of Jesus are expected of persecution. Many believers compromise and conform to the pattern of this world to avoid rejection and persecution. But we must remember that the gospel of Jesus is the only way. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” We must not conform to the pattern of this world, but follow Jesus even if it means rejection and persecution. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself or herself and take up their cross and follow me. We must live as witnesses of Jesus in this world with the glorious hope of God’s kingdom. Then when we will be proved to be true disciples of Jesus in this world, and also God will recognize us with heavenly reward. But look at verse 26. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” When the world complements us and befriends us, we must be alert and examine ourselves whether we are truly followers of Jesus. We should overcome the approval of men, and instead seek the approval of God.

In conclusion, we learned the true way of blessing and happiness through Jesus’ teaching of Beatitudes. May God bless us to grow as true disciples of Jesus as we follow Jesus’ teaching and his example of life. May God help to be poor, hungry, and to weep and be persecuted for Jesus in this world so that we may be blessed with the kingdom of God and heavenly reward as God’ children, sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.

(By James Lee)

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