Bible Reading: Luke 6:20-26

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (Luke 6:20-21)

When Luke spelled out the beatitudes, he included Jesus’ woes as well as blessings, something not seen in the more commonly read version of the beatitudes in Matthew 5. These woes give a clear comparison of the characteristics of a true disciple and a false one. From this comparison, we ought to introspect ourselves. Do we portray traits of a true follower of Christ? Or are we false followers? In either case, may we pray that our hearts may be conformed to be more like Christ each day.

Firstly, Jesus compares the poor (v. 20) and the rich (v. 24). The poor are blessed, and they will receive the kingdom of God, while the rich are cursed because they have already received their consolation. Jesus is not strictly saying that you cannot be physically rich and must strive to live in slums. Jesus is talking about our state of heart. The poor in spirit are needy. They depend on God like a beggar who has no hope left without the help of others. They acknowledge that they can do nothing and need God for salvation and their whole Christian life.

On the other hand, the rich are self-content. Proudly they scoff at others, thinking they are well-off in all the worldly things they have accomplished. They scorn God and think they do not need Him. Where are our hearts? On the surface level, it is easy to assume our hearts are poor. But, do our actions truly show that we are needy and depend on God? 

Jesus then compares the hungry and the full. The hungry long for God to satisfy them. They have no desire but to know God and be content in Him. They know that nothing else in this world will satisfy the deepest longing of their soul. With tears, they beg for God to reveal Himself to them and that His presence would fill them and lead them in all things they do. 

On the other hand, the full satisfy themselves with the riches of the world. They enjoy the euphoria of friends, family, outings, adventure, games, work, money; the list goes on. Subtly, they make these things their idols. They live for these short-lived moments of joy and spend the rest of their time nostalgically reminiscing on fleeting happy moments. Jesus says, “woe to these people!”. They will be hungry for what can truly satisfy God alone. To those who seek God, the source of all good and joy, Jesus says, “Blessed are you”. 

Lastly, Jesus compares those who weep and are hated upon and those who laugh, enjoying the good word of others. Here Jesus does not condemn joy or laughter. Jesus is saying that the world will hate upon those who seek Him. They will be condemned and reviled. To follow Jesus is not an easy route. To bear the cross means suffering and tears. But Jesus calls those who humbly take up His yoke “blessed” because eternal joys and pleasures are waiting for them. 

Contrarily, those who satisfy themselves with the dust of this world, seeking comfort and approval from men, will soon realise that their pleasure was short-lived. Trying to please men, they have displeased God. Winning the approval of man, they have lost the approval of God. For them, there will be curses of eternal mourning and weeping. 

So, as we look at these blessings and woes, where do we stand? Are we willing to bear the cross and humbly follow Christ while depending wholly on Him? May God have mercy on us. 

Lord, please have mercy on us and teach us what it means to follow You. Wean us from the world and its temporary pleasures. Make us poor before You so that we may trust in You alone. Give us a hunger for You and Your Word that we may be satisfied. And teach us to bear the cross, scorning the shame, and look towards the greater joy You have prepared for us just as Christ has gone before us. We ask in Jesus’ name, amen.