20Looking at His disciples, He said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. … 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-21, 24-26, NIV)
Sometimes the words of Jesus bring extraordinary comfort and inspiration. They invite us to come to Jesus when we are weary and burdened, so that He might give us rest (Matthew 11:28). The words of Jesus reassure us of God’s love for those who are lost, including you and me (Luke 15:3-7).
But sometimes the words of Jesus aren’t so easy to hear. They can be downright disturbing. Take Luke 6:20-25, for example. Here Jesus says that those who are poor, hungry, and weeping are blessed. That must sound reassuring to those who are actually poor, hungry, and weeping. But what if we’re not any of these? Even more disturbing is what Jesus says about those who are rich, full, and laughing. “Woe to you,” He says; hard times lie ahead.
These words of Jesus certainly disturbed the assumptions of His first century culture. Wealth, ample food, and happiness were thought to be signs of God’s blessing. They were what people yearned for in this life. Yet Jesus turned everything upside down. For the poor, this was good news. Better times were coming. But it was not such good news for those who were well off.
Jesus’ words in our passage are disturbing today as well. We don’t want to be numbered among the poor, hungry, and weeping, those Jesus calls blessed. We’d much rather be rich, full, and laughing. So, if we’re doing well in this life, we are not comforted by what Jesus says in today’s text from Luke.
I believe that sometimes we need to be disturbed by the words of Jesus. We need to be unsettled and disrupted. I’ve been a Christian for over forty years. My familiarity with Jesus and His teaching is, in many ways, a wonderful thing. But I can become overly comfortable in my faith. I can take from Scripture only that which affirms me and my current lifestyle. I can fail to hear that which ought to challenge me to take a fresh look at how I’m living. I can get stuck in my discipleship, following Jesus only so far before I slow down to a crawl.
So, today, I’m not going to avoid or deny the discomfort I feel when I read our passage from Luke. I’m going to let the words of Jesus disturb me, even as they once disturbed many of His first listeners. I’m going to ask, with my heart as open as it can be, “Lord, what do you want me to hear today? What are you saying to me now?” I invite you to join me.
Take a few moments to reflect on your response to Jesus’ words in Luke 6:20-25? Do you find them encouraging? Unsettling? Disturbing? And as you consider what Jesus said, do you find yourself feeling defensive? Do you want to find a way to defend the life you’re living? If so, why? If not, why not?
Are you willing to let the His teaching unsettle your life? If so, why? If not, why not?
Ask God today that Jesus’ will confront you in ways that make you uncomfortable, knowing that God wants the best for you.
God wants you to experience the truest joy and meaning, not for ourselves, but for the Kingdom of God.