17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
One could look at the blessings part alone and simply take comfort in knowing that we are indeed blessed. This verse speaks well of what is to come for us. God has promised us great things and we will see them one day. This is quite encouraging, especially to those that are suffering hard times. For all those that do suffer hardships, I do want you to take that away from this passage. Be comforted in knowing that God has much in store for you.
But, I would like to talk a little more about the blessings and the woes...
Depending on how you read this passage, you might think that everyone that is poor or hungry is to consider themselves blessed... or that anyone that is wealthy and full, and happy is doomed to sorrow...
If you just read the verses as they are, you might take that away and nothing more.
Now, I'm not Jesus so I do not know with any certainty how He spoke this to the people there that day. But, I want to use this passage to illustrate a point Jesus made at another time.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Those of us that know Christ are not of this world. Because the world does not accept Christ, they will not accept us. We will be persecuted and we will suffer hardships. In Christ's time, as well as in ours in some locations, people do suffer extreme hardships because of their faith. People can be beaten. People can end up fleeing from their own land. People can end up poor and hungry. All of this because they are not of this world. All of this because we are in Christ. Jesus made it quite clear that if people persecuted Him they will indeed persecute us. Before I elaborate more on that I want to share a few more verses.
2 Corinthians 12:10
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Timothy 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
1 Peter 4:12-14
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
In the bible we see that others suffered because of their faith. The last passage I pasted here mentions how his followers rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer the shame for Christ's name. They knew just how blessed they were to be able to counted worthy of that suffering. Sounds weird, I know. But I truly believe that the first passage I mentioned, from Luke, is talking to those that are suffering hardships because of their faith in Jesus. Don't get me wrong, I do not want to take away from the hope that anyone suffering hard times can receive from such a passage. But I want to make it clear how I am reading this, how I believe Jesus was intending that passage. When I look at the blessings AND the woes together, I can't help but picture this referring to our lives, how we live. Basically, if we are serving God as we should, if we wear our faith on our sleeves and preach the good news to everyone we meet, we WILL be persecuted and face hard times. Some people sell all they have and go do full time mission work, sometimes not knowing where their next meal will come from, all in the name of Jesus. Some, in some countries, are beheaded, imprisoned, moved from their homes, beaten, poor, on the run, hungry, etc... all in the name of Jesus. These faithful servants are the people I believe Jesus is reminding of their future reward in heaven. He is giving them comfort in the knowledge that their trials are not in vain.
I personally know people that have suffered in one way or another because of their faith. I know people that have been cursed at and worse because of their faith, and faithfulness. You see, it's easy to run from trials. It's easy to sit back and enjoy that free gift that Jesus gave us and not share it with those that might do us harm. It's quite easy to take the easy way through life. But, we are called to take up our crosses daily. We are called to live a life that, if we were to live it, we will be persecuted. This is not because God wants us to be persecuted with Him, but simply because we are so different than the world, and the world will not accept us.
If we are to live our lives in the way we ought to, we will be rejected by many and will face our trials.
So, even though this passage has much blessing in it and we can feel comforted by those statements, and our future... There is more to this verse. The woes...
The woes, Jesus is speaking to those that do not suffer. Does this mean that if we are well fed, wealthy, happy, and thought well of, that we are in big trouble? Not necessarily. But, I do believe it is clear that if we live as we are called to, we will suffer some hardships. Most people that seem to be cruising through life not facing any trials, well they're probably not out there witnessing on the street corner or wearing their faith on their sleeves. They may be hiding their faith inside them from all those around for fear of such persecution. Is there really such danger in trying to avoid such suffering? In my opinion, there is indeed. Here's a verse that I would like to compare to the woes section of the passage from Luke.
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
I believe that verse should scare some people. I believe many people these days want to believe in Jesus, want to be saved, want to go to heaven, but are too scared of how the world will react to share it with them. Many people these days want to go on enjoying their sinful lives and be happy. There's several songs out there that speak of this. One song says "only the good die young" and it has more words in it that are quote contrary to what the bible teaches us. The lyrics are bold enough to say "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than die with the saints..."
My friends, the woes in the passage from Luke are speaking directly to Christians who choose to live in such a way.
If you believe in Jesus and want to serve Him, then you will face hardships. This is not a test from God, it is not a punishment... it is simply the way this world we live in works. People hate what they don't understand.
Well, not that I explained how I'm reading that passage from Luke I want to tell all of you out there that suffer in Christ's name to remember that you are very blessed. The first part of verse 23 says
" Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven"
Don't ever forget that. Rejoice in your times of persecution.
To all those out there reading this that are living a life of luxury and comfort... I'm not suggesting that you are doomed to an eternity of misery... But I do hope this passage will challenge some people to look at how they live their lives.
And for all those out there that are suffering just because times are hard and no other reason at all...
A time is coming for you when there will be no suffering. There will be no more hunger, no more pain, no more sorrow...
You too can rejoice in that.
Be blessed today...
Dear Lord, thank you for today and all the blessings you have in store for us. Thank you for your word and all that it teaches us. Thank you so much for using your disciples and your word to teach me that I ought to rejoice when I am persecuted for my faith in you, that I share in your suffering and that I might be counted worthy... Lord, I confess that many times in my life I have not been so bold as to speak up for my faith. Many times I was scared and did not want to face persecution. Please forgive me. Please help me to be more confident and take away my fears. I want to serve you in every way I can Lord, and I pray that I will always remember to count it joy when those trials come. Thank you Jesus for facing the ultimate trial so that I may never face that.
A new subject or passage each week for all to discuss.
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