Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 6v20-26 'Real Revolution'

"20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."

The first verse of this section is key, these are words spoken to disciples not the crowd.  These are words of comfort for the few rather than of instruction for the many and they set up Jesus counter cultural kingdom, they begin a real revolution that will last until his Kingdom comes.

Jesus spells out why his disciples are blessed.  That word, blessed, has different meanings. It can mean someone is especially talented, take George Best for example it’s the title of his autobiography. Or it can mean someone is very fortunate, or wealthy. Alternatively we use it when someone sneezes, bless you. Or it is an expression that people use when something is cute, ‘ah bless’.

But “Blessed” is a biblical word and it therefore has a bible meaning. Sometimes it’s translated as happy, but that’s inadequate, it doesn’t quite get to what it really means. It does lead to happiness but it means more than just that, it means to be approved of or to be favoured. So God blesses the seventh day as he rests from creation – he doesn’t make the seventh day happy (what would a happy day look like?) but he approves of it, it is especially favoured as he rests from his work of creation. Blessed means to be approved of.

We all long for approval – be it the approval of parents, friends, work colleagues, boss, children or whoever. Our desire for approval is positively what drives children to obey their parents, but negatively it is what drives the fashion industry, the cosmetic surgery industry, the gadget industry. We long for the approval of those we love and respect or whose opinion we value, and we fear losing it.  And those God approves of are those the world despises or looks down on.

God approves of the poor, the hungry, the weeping, the hated, excluded, reviled and spurned on account of the Son of Man.  Those who have repented of living for self and now live life under the good gaze and rule of their Saviour and King.  We are those favoured by God, blessed by him even as the world opposes, mocks and belittles.  We are part of a counter culture, a kingdom culture that will one day be finally realised because of Jesus.

The contrast is made with the woes that follow, woes on those the world would called blessed but who do not know Christ and therefore are missing out on true blessing, the blessing we were created to enjoy.

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