pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Blessing, Woe

Reading: Luke 6: 17-26

Verses 17-18: “A great number of people… had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases”.

In Jesus’ ministry, His teaching and healing were often connected. People were drawn to the healing that Jesus’ physical touch would bring. In today’s passage we read, “A great number of people… had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases”. For those there were in need of physical healing, we read that they only needed to touch Jesus to experience healing. I imagine the crowd was milling around and pressing in on Jesus.

As Jesus begins to speak He addresses both the blessings and woes that people experience. The words that Jesus speak also offer healing. Through the “blessed are you” statements, Jesus offers the hope of a promised better life. These words bring comfort, reassurance, and healing. He also offers several “woe to you” statements. These words bring warning, conviction, and, ultimately, they offer healing to those living in sin. If all present will allow Jesus’ words to touch them, they can experience spiritual healing.

The first three “blessed are” statements deal with those who are poor, hungry, and weeping. To these, Jesus attached a future hope and promise. The fourth speaks to those who are being persecuted because of their faith in Christ. Jesus reminds them that they walk with Him. For all people, life has trials and sufferings. To those that day living with these, Jesus offers eternal hope as He says, “rejoice in that day” because “great is your reward in heaven”. Keep the faith, keep your eyes on Christ, trust in what is to come.

Jesus also addresses those who are enjoying life now. He speaks to those who are rich, well fed and to those who are laughing and are thought well of by men. Jesus says woe to these because they are pursuing and enjoying the things of this earth, all of which are temporary. The when or will statements apply to the life of torment that will come as well.

We live with the same choice to make. Our priorities, our focus, our faith, our concern for others – these things will bring us blessings or woes. Do we hunger for the Word? Are we concerned for and engaged with the poor? Do we weep with those who are suffering or struggling? Do we speak up and live out our faith courageously and boldly? These are the things that will bring blessing. May these be the things we pursue and chase after. Then all the glory will be to God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live first for you and then for others. In all I say and do, may love be my lead and my guide. Amen.

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Saints

Reading: Luke 6: 17-30

Today is All Saints Day, a day when we remember the saints of old and the saints of today.  We picture the saints of old as grand people, depicted in portraits.  We think of the apostles, the early church leaders, the famous writers, and of people like Luther and Calvin and John Wesley.  In more recent times we think of Mother Teresa.

In our passage today, Jesus speaks to his disciples in a direct and personal way.  He tells them of times when they are blessed and of times when woes befall them.  These two opposites run in parallel tracks in the first part of the passage.  One can almost think in terms of heavenly and earthly.  The blessings come with future gains.  The woes come with trial and suffering.  These verses imply the reward of following Jesus’ example and the cost of not doing so.  The passage then concludes with words of how to love, pray for, and treat our enemies well followed by how to be generous in our giving.

Jesus is spelling out that the life of a saint will be hard and costly.  It is one more way of telling us that to follow Jesus is difficult for the way is narrow.  It is reminding us that to follow is to walk a road that will challenge our human instincts to be powerful and popular and self-centered.  Instead, Jesus calls us to be with those who are poor, who hunger, who weep, and who are hated.  He calls us to suffer alongside them, just as He did.  By being present to those in need or in trial we offer them Jesus.  It is through this presence that they are blessed.

We do not like to think of followers of Jesus as saints.  That seems like lofty ground.  But in this passage, we see that loving those in need, working to relieve suffering, and offering all we can is a worthy calling.  It is our call as followers of Jesus Christ.  Just as we look back on the saints of old as examples for how they lived out their faith, we too are called to do the same.  We too are called to model Christian discipleship for those in our lives.  May we each shine Jesus’ light today.