Tuesday 28 July 2015

Bible Book:
Luke

“Then he looked up at his disciples and said ...” (v. 20)

Luke 6:17-26 Tuesday 28 July 2015

Psalm: Psalm 51


Background

The writer of Luke's Gospel has chosen a different way ofgathering Jesus' teaching together from that found in Matthew'sGospel. There we have what is often called 'the Sermon on theMount' (it starts in Matthew chapter 5) and the two collections havesome interesting differences.

In this version, Jesus has been praying all night (Luke16:12), apparently in preparation for choosing his 12 closestfollowers (Luke 16:13-16), and comes from that to offerteaching to the crowds. They, of course, have gathered for morehealing and other miracles! The calling of the 12 is believed bysome scholars to indicate an intention to create a new Israel,since the number matches the number of the tribes, but it isinteresting that none of the lists that have been recorded for usquite agree about names!

The series of blessings, frequently called 'The Beatitudes' aredifferently recorded by Matthew, and none of the following 'Woes'(verses 24-26) are with them - though that writer has a later,longer list of woes directed at Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-36). But here, both are addressedto the newly called followers rather than to the crowd, and wouldseem to be both promise and warning about what it means to be adisciple of Jesus.

It has also been suggested that the blessings are an invitationto an upside down way of life, where prosperity gets in the way,and the key to life in all its fullness is to admit one's need.Some later writers have also suggested that the woes were added bythe early Church, because they believed that this reversal ofexpected blessing was about the life after death and therefore somedescription of eternal woe was also required.

Whether this is about life now, or the life of the world tocome, it is clear that the rewards are in the relationship withGod.


To Ponder

  • War, violence, oppression, hunger and homelessness - at homeand throughout the world. In this context, how difficult do youfind the idea of these blessings?
  • Reflect on who you think needs to hear the woes? Where do youfeel you stand?
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