For the full text of Luke 6, click here. We left the last post where Jesus had just called up the apostles and continues with another telling of the Beautitudes, but just a little different. The Beatitudes of Luke 6 are about 5 beatitudes shy of Matthew 5.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.Luke 6:20-23
This leaves out the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. Nevertheless, the overall sentiment appears to be the same. If you are troubled now, it’s won’t always be that way, especially if you are with God.
Then Luke recounts four woes that weren’t in the previous account.
24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.Luke 6:24-26
I can’t say I’m sure whether these are warnings or reprimands. Though I initially bristled at this, I did have to remember that these two sets of verses are opposites. Though not everyone is consoled by money, or hungers for food alone, or laughs without sadness in their lives, or is okay with the kinds of praise they get, these are just the opposite of the beatitudes and further recognition that nothing lasts.
Put together, it all probably just means that while not all things negative last, neither will all things positive in our lives, but that second set got to me for a minute. I’ve been very uncomfortable by the praise I’ve been given when I knew I didn’t actually earn it. I’ve laughed on the other side of long hardships. For that matter, I’ve grown quite good at finding the humor in lots of sad or anxious times. I’ve learned to laugh within the mourning of things in my life. I’ve never been rich but I’ve felt satisfied with life here and there, before it all came crashing down or was revealed as fake anyway.
Still, I see that the message is the inconsistency of life and that the good that follows is the reward sometimes and the bad that follows isn’t the end of it either. The two sets of beatitudes and woes are direct opposites and I feel like it would be easy to lose the meaning when trying to keep them as seperate lists of circumstances to be thankful for or wary of.
The next section of this sermon is about loving our enemies. It reads differently from the version in Matthew 5, but mostly it just combines the sentiment of no retaliation with that of loving our enemies. It includes turning the other cheek, and walking two miles with them, and the shirt off our backs before making the point even sinners “do good to those who do good” to them. Matthew uses tax collectors and then Gentiles as examples instead, which I just noticed as an interesting choice since two of the apostles were in these groups.
Overall, the point seems to be summarized in the last two sentences:
35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35-36
It’s the “kind to the ungrateful and the evil” part that gets me. I feel like we spend a lot of unnecessary time looking for gratitude or worthiness when trying to find people to help when that’s only part of it. Yes, we want to help those who need it, but we also want to be kind to the ungrateful and the evil. There’s nothing at all about finding worth in it.
Next is the section on judging others, which is kinda funny, but also perfect. The parallels following are found in Matthew 7. They really go together. Do good for the sake of it and don’t judge others. Jesus first just tells the people to not judge each other but then follows it up with an example about why that’s a bad idea. Again, I understand the overall point, but I bristle at the example. I can too easily see applications where this stance doesn’t stick to the overall point or places where even I can be so much of a stickler that I get the attitude of the Pharisees. The point isn’t so much who has the bigger thing in their eye but the manner in which we set upon taking it out.
Let us not judge each other, but also help each other out, showing kindness and removing unwanted things from each other’s lives with respect and consent. I can’t always see my own problems, but I can take a minute to see if I’m doing the same things that are driving me crazy in others. And sometimes we need help making those corrections. The point is to not be judgey when doing any of this and I’m pretty sure not being prideful in our successful log removals either.
Then the tree and it’s fruit. The small differences in the section can really change the intent. In Luke, it reads like we are all subject to bearing good fruit so long as we have good in our hearts when we bear it. In Matthew, it’s a warning against false prophets. Either way, it’s what’s in the heart when doing things that matter, just like up in the “love your enemies” section.
The end of this sermon, according to Luke, is about a man building a house on a rock. It’s about a good foundation on which to build your faith and relationship with God. It makes the point that listening to Jesus and doing as He says lays the foundation for that relationship. But it’s just the foundation. People have to go out and do their best to actually accomplish all these things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m firmly in the “the path is not through acts” camp but faith has some action to it. I don’t see how one could listen to Jesus, believe everything He says, and then go about and do evil and expect rewards on earth and then still expect anything from God. Again, it’s a foundation. It’s the start and not the end, just as we’re only in chapter six of the gospel of Luke and there are 18 chapters left. Jesus’s preaching is also the foundation of the work He did here. So, there’s a lot to that metaphor.