The Gospel reading from Luke 6 is a hopeful text as well as a call to repentance. While the blessings assured us of eternal hope, the woes, a reversal of the blessings that immediately precede calls for repentance (vv 17-26). This Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Plain beyond our familiarity with the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (Matt 5:1-12) summons the church to urgent rethink roadmaps for Jesus’ centred worldview. What did Jesus do first when training His disciples? He first transformed their spiritual perspective and missional attitude, a change from the inside out. In less than one generation, Jesus’ disciples transformed and progressed from ignorant labourers to bold spiritual leaders in what is now the largest movement in the world. Jesus, not only invested His time with them, Jesus simplified the Gospel truth into something people could grasp, practice, and pass on to others. He talked about the roadmaps to the Kingdom’s worldview especially the blessing of being poor, hungry, hated, insulted, or persecuted, and in contrast to the woes of being rich.
In listening to Jesus or reading the Gospel at times, one tends to feel that Jesus speaks a language which most, if not all of us, even His true followers, fail to understand. In Luke 6, Jesus reverses our humanistic and secular value system. For those who are so desirous of the kingdom of God, all worldly aspirations seem to have crumbled here. Church is declining, society is crumbling, nations are failing, people are losing their jobs, dreams, and lives, hence they have no hope, no comfort, and no peace. COVID-19 highlights how the things of this world are easily taken away. Jesus’ pronouncement of blessing on those who are poor, hungry, weeping, and hated points us to the radical difference between Kingdom life and secular life. Jesus’ radical pronouncement says the same thing in a negative way, declaring woes, the opposite of blessed on those who are rich. Woe means anguish, grief, heartache, misery, sorrow, adversity, affliction, or tribulation. Without Jesus, woe is what we have left, hence unbelievers are in panic.
Jesus is calling us as His followers to obey His own worldview by living differently from the secular world around us. Jesus is warning His disciples not to fall for the trappings of this world and the trapping is more intense today. Jesus simplified truth into what His disciples could pass on to others, a Christ centred poverty, hunger, and weeping. Jesus looking at His disciples, said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you… (vv 20-22). Jesus is saying that His poor disciples are blessed. To be poor in this context suggests financial ‘poverty accompanied by grace,’ a kind of lowly and humble spirit, being rich and open towards God. It takes some discipline and sacrifice to remain faithful and poor as a true follower of Jesus. It takes compassion to weep over a sinner, church or nations wallowing and taking pride in sin.
Just as Jesus passed eternal blessings on His disciples, He also passed eternal judgement on those who find treasure in worldly aspirations and consolation (v. 24). God spoke through Prophet Jeremiah saying, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draw strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord (Jer 17:5). Jesus’ radical truth and His pronouncement counter the world counterfeit lifestyle and ideology that loves and promotes the things of this cursed world.
The Gospel reading is a hopeful text for all ‘who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all’ (vv 18-19). Beloved, God is building a kingdom army for the end time revival with missional roadmaps. Let us remember, missional roadmaps give us the big picture of God’s kingdom. Roadmaps reveal where you are. Roadmaps show you what roads to take. Roadmaps tell us what roads to avoid. In Luke 6, Jesus presents us with the spiritual roadmaps so as not to fall for the schemes of Satan. Jesus is calling and ‘putting together genuine disciples who when given the choice between riches now or riches later are wise investors and hold out for real riches and don’t fall for the fake stuff Satan has.’
The treatment of the prophets and the false prophets points to the radical difference between Kingdom prophets and secular prophets. Indeed, ‘the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve’ (Jer 17:10). Blessings for the kingdom prophets and woes to secular prophets point us to challenging roadmaps to Jesus’ centred worldview. There is no middle position. There are blessings and woes associated to Jesus’ centred worldview. Psalm 1 also points us to the spiritual roadmaps, the blessing and woes associated with Jesus’ centred worldview. The Psalmist says, “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law they meditate day and night … The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Ps 1:1-6). Blessings and woes as roadmaps of Jesus’s centred worldview assured us of eternal hope and a call to repentance.