Wednesday 24 January 2018

Bible Book:

for you have received your consolation.’” (vv. 18-20, 24)

Luke 6:17-31 Wednesday 24 January 2018

Psalm: Psalm 7:1-11


The theme of God’s mission is taken up again, with a new theme – that of surprise, not in the sense of a sudden unexpected happening but in the form of possible answers to questions such as ‘What will the kingdom be like?’ These surprises come in the graphic form of blessings or beatitudes (as we refer to the Gospel of Matthew’s account of this unified compilation of Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 5:1-12). But Luke’s Gospel adds a new dimension: woes.

Their message is about ‘blessedness’ (shalom), not happiness. Notice again how emotions are set firmly in context here. It is a mistake to soften these blessings into generalised statements about God’s value-system, though this catalogue can draw us into that temptation. They do not represent categories of people who will go to heaven, but rather the blessedness of the new community established by Jesus under God’s kingly rule.

Thinking through these blessings and woes we are urged to notice not just the ideas but the real people they describe. It is these people who will see and enjoy the kingdom, not necessarily the expert theologians or even the brilliant preachers. It is interesting to find Jesus prepared first to spend time attending to the hurts and heartaches that folk bring to him. Once the people have been understood and listened to, they are ready to be taught.

In this passage in which blessings and woes appear together, Jesus overturns expectations and heads his listeners in a completely different direction. It is those who have cause for sorrow, not the fortunate (in human terms), who are blessed. It follows, therefore, that good fortune is no longer the unequivocal sign of God’s favour; on the contrary, it is those at the bottom of the heap who can know that certainty. Those of us who are fortunate need, perhaps, to be more humble and less patronising towards those at the bottom of the heap.

To Ponder

  • How prepared are you to be taken aback by the variety of people who will populate the Kingdom? What might this do to your sense of values?
  • In our haste to be a missionary church, to what extent do we need to remember the practice of the Lord as described here: listen first, then teach? How might you do this?
  • How ready are you to go with Jesus and stand alongside people who are really unlike yourself?
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