ARE THE POOR BLESSED?
Lord, cause us to see others as You see them.
Read LUKE 6:17–26
Blessings and Woes
17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord Jesus, help me truly to listen to You, to learn to see others as You see them and to try to respond to their needs as You did.
Remarkably, the oldest known fragment of Scripture (the Ketef Hinnom amulet, from the seventh century B.C.) is the Aaronic blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you…” (Num. 6:23–27). Today, far too many have forgotten the power and importance of blessing others in God’s name. It has been my privilege to grow up in a liturgical church and to me, after the preaching of the Gospel and the sharing of communion, the blessing is the next most meaningful part of the service. A blessing is a petition for God to bless the recipient, its basis founded on our assurance that our loving God not only redeems us but also cares about us. That is why the otherwise excellent Good News Bible misses the point with “Happy are you poor” (20, GNT). The poor are not necessarily happy, but Luke makes a powerful claim that God blesses them along with all who are the focus of Jesus’ attention— those to whom life has brought hunger and sorrow. Unlike those who can use their wealth for their own beneﬁt and pleasure, the poor can only look forward to enjoying life in the future kingdom
The church has always found awkward Luke’s declaration that the poor are blessed, escaping with sometimes ill-disguised relief to Matthew’s version, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). After all, we can feel that we are poor in spirit, even if we are a bit affluent! But led by third-world theologians, commentators tentatively accept the premise that Luke correctly understood that Jesus actually meant the poor. God has a profound concern for the poor simply because they are poor, living in an inhuman situation contrary to God’s will.
“Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men… Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy” (Mother Teresa, 1910–1997).
Lord, cause us to be more sensitive to the plight of those who are less well off than we are and to take the steps You would have us take.
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