We live in a place that values prosperity, equality, and personal happiness. Few people consider your dreams absurd if you want to enjoy some of the “extras” that our world has to offer and seek stability for yourself and those you love. Everyone desires, to some degree, friendship and acceptance from other people. As I write these things, none of them seem like too much. Yet, as Jesus gathers His early followers and preaches His longest sermon up until this point in Luke He begins by saying, “Blessed are you who are poor…blessed are you who are hungry…blessed are you who weep…” (Luke 6:20b, 21a, 21c, respectively). Does Jesus really mean it is better to be impoverished, malnourished, and sorrowful? In a manner of speaking, yes.
It is not wrong to earn a good living. It is not wrong to eat three meals a day. It is not wrong to enjoy life, live it to the full, and celebrate with good food and good friends. Jesus is using these words to bring light to more significant, spiritual realities in people’s hearts. As I have prepared to preach Luke 6:17-26 this week, I have also spent a good amount of time in Matthew 5:3-11. I would encourage you to read that and meditate on it prior to gathering on Sunday morning as well. The ideas in Luke 6:20-26 and Matthew 5:3-11 are very similar, but Matthew is often helpful in expanding and clarifying their meaning. For instance when Luke’s Gospel says, “Blessed are you who are poor…”, Matthew’s Gospel says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” So, now we know that we are not talking about physical poverty, but the inward posture of a person who recognizes they are spiritually bankrupt, realizing that they have nothing of value to bring.
Whether we see these more significant, spiritual realities or not, the stubborn attitude of many in our world toward these things remains steadfast. Many people do not want to acknowledge their spiritual bankruptcy. They are hardened in their heart, believing the lie that they are able to produce everything they need from within themselves. This is both sad and untrue. The good news of Jesus Christ is you and I cannot produce the righteousness and purity we need within ourselves, but we do not have to. If we confess this truth, proclaiming our spiritual poverty, and place our faith in Christ, we will be saved and made rich in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
As you prepare to hear the preaching of God’s Word this Sunday, consider the following questions. Have you proclaimed your spiritual poverty and confessed your attempts to provide your own spiritual justification as sin? If you answered yes to that question, do you do it on an ongoing basis or was it something you did once, long ago? If you answered no to that first question, will you confess your spiritual poverty before God and be saved by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ by placing your faith in Him?
I look forward to spending the next two weeks in the beatitudes with you and anticipate God showing us incredible mercy through them. I hope you will make every effort to join me.
For the sake of His name,