Luke 6: 17-26
Jesus chose to stand among people--not above but among the people to whom he spoke. We could imagine that there were a lot of sick people in the crowd; there were a lot of people with crazy looks in their eyes and others who clearly had not eaten for a while. If we were there, what would we expect from him? We would have expected to see more miracles—making the blind to see; cleansing the leper; feeding another five thousand.
However, what Jesus preached was the beatitudes—a series of blessings he pronounced on those who were there. In addition, the content of what Jesus said was unfamiliar and unexpected to his audiences. Hearing these beatitudes was like drinking from a glass of what looked like lemonade and finding out that it was a glass of vinegar instead. It was a shocking substitution of bad things for good things, in which being blessed meant the very things people really tried to avoid—poverty, hunger, grief, and hatred.
So, my question and challenge for each of us is “How do we read the beatitudes and how do we apply these teachings to our daily lives?” I do not believe that this passage invites us to sell all our possessions we have and give those to the poor. And we do not need to feel bad about what we have in our hands.
But, I wonder if we may have a tendency to ignore this passage by putting it into the same file with all the other good Christian advice that no one we know personally has ever followed.
The point is the beatitudes are not pieces of advice. In the passage, Jesus did not tell us to do anything. Instead, Jesus describes different kinds of people, hoping that his listeners will recognize themselves as one kind or another, and then he makes the same promise to all of them—the way things are is not the way they will always be.
The Ferris wheel will go around, so that those who are swaying at the top, with the wind in their hair and all the lights at their feet, will have their turn at the bottom, while those who are down there right now, will have their chance to touch the stars.
It is not advice at all. It is not even judgment. But it is the good news and the truth about the way things work, proclaimed by our Creator who loves everyone, no matter whether it is those who are at the top or at the bottom, on that Ferris wheel.
Maybe, Jesus was not any good in helping us to get on the top and stay on the top. Yet, we are reminded God’s own truth that no one gets to stay at the top of the wheel forever. The way things are is not the way they will always be. It goes round and comes round.
Blessed are you who lose your grip on the way things are, for God shall lead you in the way things shall be.
Thanks be to God.