Luke 6: 17-26 – Jesus is speaking to his followers and teaching them the contrast between living according to his kingdom values or living according to worldly values. He focusses on four values which if followed now (the earthly life) would be a blessing to his followers and result in rewards in his eternal kingdom. He understands that being a follower of his is difficult and encourages them.
• Poor:This can apply to lacking in material things. The blessing here is that these people don’t place value or find security in earthly possessions but rather depend on God for His provision and security. The woe (or warning) is to those who chase after earthly riches at the expense of trust and faith in God. These people have their reward on earth and not in heaven.
• Hunger:. People who hunger now are not necessarily those who go without food. These are people who hunger (and thirst) for Jesus. This appetite will never be satisfied here on earth but only in heaven when we are blessed to live with him in his eternal kingdom. Those who satisfy themselves (or try to) with worldly pleasures are again warned that in their eternal life they will go unsatisfied (hungry), separate from Jesus.
• Weep:. Followers of Jesus may weep tears of repentance, tears of sympathy, tears for the injustices of the world. The experience of living in a broken, evil world. The blessing comes from the realisation that Jesus will return to judge and heal the world. This will be a day of great rejoicing for Christ followers. Those who show no concern for the struggles of others but gloat (laugh) in their good fortune will weep in eternity.
• Persecution:. Disciples of Christ will endure persecution and opposition as they seek to follow Christ’s way which conflicts with the way of the world. Those who remain steadfast in their faith in Jesus will be blessed and receive great reward in heaven. Jesus issues a warning to those who seek the approval of people rather than seek to please God. Those people who seek to fit in with the crowd rather than to stand out for God.
The challenge for us today is to reflect on whether we are aligned with the blessings (and rewards) Jesus promises to his followers or whether we are being drawn into the woes of the world.