Going Deeper 11-1-19

The Gospel reading for All Saints Sunday...
Luke 6:20-31   Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.  But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.  But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.  Do to others as you would have them do to you."

"Blessed" is a word we hear a lot from our fellow Christians.  It is a very 'churchy' word.  We speak of how materially blessed we are, and how grateful we are when we are blessed with good health, good family, good friends, a good job.  We count ourselves blessed to live in a land of religious freedoms and rare persecution for our faith.  

However, the word translated in our text as "blessed" (and unfortunately in other translations as "happy") is the Greek word markarios, which scholars struggle to translate adequately into English.  One suggested that "unburdened" or "satisfied" would be accurate.  One of my teachers years ago suggested "better off" as a good translation.

"Woe" can be a little tricky to understand, too.  The Greek word ouai doesn't mean “cursed” or “unhappy” or “damned.”  It is used here as a contrast to blessed/better off.  

With these translations in mind, think about just how radical Jesus' teachings here are!  We are better off poor than rich, hungry than full, weeping than laughing, hated than spoken well of.  What are we to make of such radical thoughts?

Well, I will try to make it easier to understand-- but probably not easier to accept:  The most important thing we need in our journey through life is to recognize our deep need for grace and restoration.  If we are "blessed" according to worldly standards or definitions, it is quite possible that we will never come to know just how much we need God.  Too many comforts and distractions.  But when it all gets threatened or stripped away, we are blessed with an awareness of our great need for God's grace, mercy, love, and salvation. 

Things are upside down in the Kingdom of God.  And when we are transformed by God's radical love and grace, we are ready to love and do good to others, even our enemies.  We become radically generous and thoughtful... just like Jesus.

With You in His Grace, 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."