Luke 6: 17, 20-26
Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. Then he spoke:
You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.
“Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.
But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made.
What you have is all you’ll ever get.
And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.
There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.
“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.”
Four contrasts are referred to in these few scripture verses – poverty/riches; hunger/fullness; sorrow/laughter; and defamation/commendation. Jesus upturns the values we would normally consider desirable. He asks us to realise that we are not living simply to be happy in this life but we should ask ourselves the deeper value of our ways of life in the light of what we can bring with us to eternal life.
The Christian view of life is that we should never forget that things cannot be brought with us into eternal life. Rather, we only take with us the things we have given away – even if it’s only a cup of water given in the name of Jesus (Matthew 10:42).
The kingdom of God is mysterious, because it is God’s project working out silently in human history. But from this text we know some of those who will be in it. The poor and the hungry will be there. So will those who weep, and also the dominated, the persecuted, the outcasts of the earth. What an extraordinary group! Those who are at the bottom of the human pyramid will be rejoicing and leaping for joy at God’s goodness to them.
When my heart is breaking because of the misery of so many today, I must not think that God has forgotten them. Instead I thank God that for them the best is yet to come, and I ask to be included among them, at least as someone who cares about them.