THOSE WHO EMBRACE THE VALUE SYSTEM OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD RECEIVE BLESSING RATHER THAN CONDEMNATION
The shocking impact of the message delivered here by Jesus has been blunted by our familiarity with the Sermon on the Mount. This dramatic contrast between kingdom and worldly value systems would have been an unexpected challenge to the gathered disciples. Jesus never sugar-coated what was involved in being a genuine disciple, a true follower. But after counting the cost, one must conclude that the bountiful promised blessings are more than worth the suffering and persecution of loyalty to Jesus Christ.
John MacArthur: You see, the teaching of Jesus doesn’t add a little to conventional religious wisdom. It doesn’t just subtract a little. It replaces it. The teaching of Jesus then and the teaching of Jesus now…because it’s the same…it’s here in Scripture recorded for all time and eternity. The teaching of Jesus then and now shatters all man’s basic foundational thinking. It destroys his motives whether they are secular or religious. It turns man’s world upside-down. It turns his thinking on its head. The teaching of Jesus then and now is not PC; it’s not political correct. It’s not CW; it’s not conventional wisdom. In fact, the teaching of Jesus is alien to everything we consider to be true in the natural mind. It runs counter to everything. It is the antithesis of human ideas. It is the antithesis of human motivation. . . Now the idea of blessing and cursing wasn’t new to the Jews. They had Old Testament. They knew whether God had distinguished the two. Sure He had, Deuteronomy 27 and 28.
A. (:17) 3 Groups of People Gathered
“And He descended with them, and stood on a level place; and there was a great multitude of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon,”
– 12 Apostles
– Larger group of dedicated disciples
– Crowd of onlookers
B. (:18) 3 Activities of Jesus Drawing the Crowds
“who had come to hear Him, and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured.”
– Teaching Ministry
– Healing Ministry
– Exorcism of Demons
C. (:19) Fundamental Point of Attraction = Power of Jesus to Heal
“And all the multitude were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.”
I. (:20-23) BLESSINGS = HAPPINESS NOW AND FOREVER FOR EMBRACING THE VALUE SYSTEM OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
“And turning His gaze on His disciples, He began to say,”
It seems that this portion of the sermon is directed primarily to that middle group = the large number of disciples.
A. (:20-21) Kingdom Character Traits – Lead to Blessing
(cf. Matt 5 for more complete list)
“‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.’”
Matthew emphasizes the spiritual aspect of these characteristics – poor in spirit; hunger and thirst for righteousness; etc. Luke emphasizes the temporary duration of present hardship vs. future fulfillment which allows the disciples to experience joy and happiness even in the midst of present difficulties. Disciples must learn what it means to take up the cross and follow Jesus. They must delay instant gratification for the long term kingdom benefit.
You must adopt kingdom values rather than the world’s values to be truly happy and blessed.
Gene Brooks: Among first century Jews, giving to the poor was one way a wealthy person might commend himself to God. But among Greek Gentiles, Christ’s affirmation of the poor must have stunned them. The wealthy Greeks were increasingly dedicated to their own personal fortunes. The few who did anything for anyone else might endow a library, a school, a bath, or establish a fund to pay for an annual banquet for the town. But rather than real generosity, they were only ostentatious displays. Roman society viewed the poor man who worked for hire with disgust, not pity or respect. Even self-made wealth was looked down on with disdain by the upper classes. Against this background we can better understand the difficult choice these words call Jesus’ followers to make. If one is to follow Jesus, the values of human society truly must be rejected and replaced with those appropriate for a kingdom ruled by the Messiah.
Geldenhuys: persons who do not seek their wealth and life in earthly things, but who acknowledge their own poverty and come to Him to seek real life.
Donald Miller: If you set your heart and bend your whole energies to obtain the things which the world values, you will get them–but that is all you will ever get. In the expressive modern phrase, literally, you have had it! But if on the other hand you set your heart and bend all your energies to be utterly loyal to God and true to Christ, you will run into all kinds of trouble, you may by the world’s standards look unhappy, but much of your payment is still to come; and it will be joy eternal.
Bob Deffinbaugh: To identify with Christ as His disciples meant adopting Jesus’ lifestyle. For the eleven this meant poverty, hunger (at times) and weeping, and rejection.
B. (:22-23) Kingdom Persecution Indicates Alignment with Jesus and the OT Prophets — Leads to Great Reward
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.”
Constable: Various forms of persecution will give way to ultimate reward and consequent joy. Note the logical progression in Luke 6:22 from hatred to ostracism to insults and finally to character assassination. Luke recorded in Acts that all these forms of persecution overtook the early Christians. The New Testament epistles also warn Christians about them (e.g, 1 John 3:13; 1 Peter 4:14; James 2:7). Not just the prophets of old but also Jesus Himself experienced these persecutions. Disciples can expect the same. God will vindicate them eventually and reward them for their faithfulness (cf. Luke 12:37; Luke 12:42-44; Luke 18:1-8).
II. (:24-26) WOES = CONDEMNATION FOR EMBRACING THE VALUE SYSTEM OF THE WORLD
A. (:24-25) Worldly Character Traits – Lead to Condemnation
“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.
Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
– Curse of riches
– Curse of satisfaction
– Curse of happiness
Thabiti Anyabwile: In the Bible, when a prophet warned people of condemnation, he would often begin with the word “woe.” Woe refers to unrelenting sorrow, pain, and agony, the kind that cannot be relieved. Woe crushes a person. And when prophets pronounce a “woe” against people, the woe comes at the hand of God’s condemnation. . .
The rich “have received” (v. 24) (past tense) their comfort. Their comfort was their money. When their lives end and their money is gone, there will be no comfort for them. They will outlive their money, and their money will outlive its usefulness. All that will be left apart from Jesus is woe.
The now full live high off the hog. They satisfy their desires now. They have refrigerators full and money to eat out. Now. But when judgment comes, they will be hungry. Hell for them will be a constant hungering, never being satisfied, a gnawing in their guts. Their worm will never die. They had it all in this life, and they will have nothing in the life to come because they did not have Christ.
Those who are now laughing will not laugh last. They “will mourn and weep” (v. 25). In fact, many places in the Bible describe judgment and hell as “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In the end they will be sorry they spent their lives laughing – laughing in worldly pleasures apart from Jesus.
The popular – those who knew what it meant to have “all people speak well of you” – will suffer woe too. . . Popularity is sometimes evidence of God’s condemnation and a disciple’s unfaithfulness rather than God’s approval or favor.
B. (:26) Widespread Popularity Indicates Alignment with the World’s Value System and the False Prophets of the OT – Leads to Condemnation
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.”
Constable: The opposite of experiencing persecution (Luke 6:22-23) is having everyone speak well of you. Disciples who find that everyone thinks that all they are doing is just fine need to examine their commitment to Jesus Christ. Unbelievers should disagree with and oppose to some extent those who follow God’s will faithfully because they hold different values. Jesus’ experience is what all of His disciples can expect to reproduce to some extent. False prophets often win wide acclaim (cf. Jeremiah 5:31).