As we continue our journey reading the stories of Jesus’ early ministry in the Gospel of Luke, we now come to the “sermon on the level plain” (Luke 6:17-49). I invite you to read this section of Luke for today and tomorrow, but for today’s devotion, we will focus on Luke 6:20-26 (see Matthew 5:3-12 if you want to compare these beatitudes). 

Notice the 4 “blessed” and the 4 “woes.” “Blessed” as it is used here is a little different than how it is often used today on decorative pillows or #blessed. To be blessed, as Jesus uses the word, is to be aware of God’s presence and work of justice. It’s the radical work (not the final outcome) of the kingdom of God that Jesus refers to back in Luke 4:18-19 and that Mary sings about in Luke 1:46-55. This is the upside-down, world reversing kingdom that God intends for us. 

Now, it would be easy to view this as a simple flip flop: hungry/fed, poor/rich. But that isn’t quite it either. Look at the “woes.” Those who are fed and happy aren’t bad people, but because they are satiated they aren’t participating in God’s work, they aren’t keeping their eyes and hearts open to the needs of their neighbors. They are missing out on being a part of this world changing work! 

The kingdom of God isn’t a simple reversal but a new way of being community, a commitment to the work of justice, a dedication to seeing the neighbor as oneself, and working toward a vision of the beloved community where no one struggles alone, no one hoards, and no one is left out. This is about transformation. Reversal sounds easy in comparison. 

How do the “blessed” and “woes” fall on your ears today?

What makes you uncomfortable? What comforts you? How is God nudging you through Jesus’ words today?

In Peace, Pastor Ruth

Let us pray:
Living God, you confound the world’s wisdom in giving your kingdom to the lowly and the pure in heart. Give us such a hunger and thirst for justice, and perseverance in striving for peace, that in our words and deeds the world may see the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend. Amen.