Luke 6 and a Coming Blessing

Our pastor has been preaching through the Gospel of Luke for the past few months. I haven’t spent time in a Gospel in a while and as we’ve been going through it I have been freshly amazed at the authority and tender care of Jesus.

Yesterday, he preached from Luke 6:17-26. The passage commonly known as “the Beatitudes” falls in the middle of this text of Scripture. An at-a-glance reading would cause anyone to question what is going on here. Jesus goes from proclaiming blessing on the hungry, mourning, and reviled to proclaiming woes to the ones who seem to have it all together. Why does he do that? Surely he has a purpose? I think what Jesus is saying in these few short verses has tremendous implications for our souls in the middle of tremendous difficulty and heartache.

Jesus is speaking to desperate people. In verses 17-19 we see crowds of people coming to hear him speak and be healed by him. Many traveled from far away, and in those days that took determination. These were people who knew what it meant to be sorrowful and destitute. More than that, Jesus knew they were destitute in the deepest core of their being—their soul.
Maybe they heard him saying: “Blessed are you are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 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,” and thought to themselves, “I don’t feel blessed right now. My child is dead. My husband is sick and will not recover. I have no food to feed my family. My family thinks I’m crazy for traveling all this way to see you, Jesus. Where is the blessing in that?”

Maybe you feel that way too. I know I have.

But then we get to verse 23: “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Now Jesus is not saying that suffering and hurting people are to walk around with plastered smiles on their faces because they know they have a better reward someday. He is saying something far more profound about our mindset on this earth and about a kingdom that is coming.

The Jewish people listening were hoping for a Messiah that would come and right all wrongs, heal all diseases, and set up his earthly kingdom. And that is not what Jesus is doing, at least in the way they wanted him to. He is ushering in his kingdom through his life, death, and resurrection. But it won’t be consummated until he comes again.

What Jesus is doing in the Beatitudes is giving us a hope. He is telling us that there is something greater coming that will make sense of all that we are going through, even if we never see that explanation on this earth. He’s not promising that it will be easy or that we will always understand. Rather he is giving us something far grander—an eternal perspective. Jesus was preparing the disciples, and us, for a coming eternal kingdom when all of these things will be restored by his glorious power. That is our only foundation when we face the trials of this earthly life. Until then we wait and hope.