The Gospel of Luke

This devotional is written by Arabella Northey. Arabella is thankful that St Mary's loves the Holy Spirit, Karaoke, Dancing, Parties, the Bible (in no particular order) and is already booked up for this year's New Wine! 

Luke 6:17-26

Crowds Follow Jesus

17 When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. 19 Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.

The Beatitudes

20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
"God blesses you who are poor,
    for the Kingdom of God is yours.
21 God blesses you who are hungry now,
    for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now,
    for in due time you will laugh.
22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.

Sorrows Foretold

24 "What sorrow awaits you who are rich,
    for you have your only happiness now.
25 What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now,
    for a time of awful hunger awaits you.
What sorrow awaits you who laugh now,
    for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow.
26 What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
    for their ancestors also praised false prophets.

Reflection

Which would you choose, blessings or sorrows? Jesus's fame and power has spread - they are gathered from miles around just to touch him, to be healed, the wonder worker is in their midsts and he has the power.  Often signs advertise events that aim to help us: become richer; more successful; more zen; happier and better in relationships.  They all speak to the human part of us that knows we are missing something. Being impure in Jewish culture during the time of Jesus kept you outside of society and led others to believe that you were being punished by God. These people had not really come to hear him speak, they had practical problems - illnesses, diseases and evil spirits - from which they wanted deliverance.

God's economy turns the world on its head and Jesus explains to his disciples: the poor will inherit the kingdom; hunger no more, you will be satisfied; when you are rejected, you are to know you are loved by God. Our reward is in heaven. These contrast dramatically to worldly values. What I like in the New Living Translation is it lays out our blessings and exhorts us to be happy and jump for joy… what does it really feel like to be truly rich, fully satisfied and to know JOY. Being a follower of Jesus is going to involve rejection, mocking and cursing because of our choice to follow the living Lord. We are BLESSED and a great reward awaits each and everyone of us.

Life so often teaches us to cut our expectations, throw away hope and to stop asking God for our heart's desires.  Recently, I have experienced a huge change in my circumstances and have had to press into God and really ask for help and protection. Proverbs 16 v 3 reminds us to commit our actions to the Lord and your plans will succeed. As we show kingdom values to those in our community and at work, we will have an experience of heaven and be in the sweet spot with God.

Jesus' wisdom showed him what they and we all needed to be reminded that when we come to God it is not just for cosmic magic tricks. You maybe in a place today where you can't leap for joy, perhaps you are just wilting and wishing that money, food or laughter would solve your needs.  The Lord has you, the Bible is filled with commands showing God's concern for the poor and needy. He will meet our needs and fill us up with joy.

Lord, I pray today that our fulfilment comes through your living hope. Thank you that your blessings are plentiful and for each and everyone.  Help me not to seek the easy comfort, but to press in and experience true richness of a life that has you at the centre.  I ask that you show me how you can meet me today. Amen

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