Summary: Trusting in God and life’s situation
Today we read what may have seemed to be a very familiar passage to you, however with a different twist. The reading from the Gospel is Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, and it sounds very familiar to the Matthews Gospel account of the Sermon on the Mount. However, there are some differences in the way the message is being delivered.
Luke’s account is actually filled with many points of hope, listen to these words:
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. (Luke 6:21a NIV)
The hope in many of the passages from the Sermon on the Plains rests in the fact that we can look beyond our current condition and that it eventually will get better.
At the same time, the Sermon on the Plain has some rather sobering words for those who have done very well in life, who seemed to have everything go their way. Listen to these words from Luke 6:25.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. (Luke 6:25a NIV)
Why is there such a contrast in the messages being given? Is Jesus talking of matters in the worldly/material sense, or the spiritual sense or both?
In our Old Testament Scripture reading, Jeremiah tells us this: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord...Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:5,7 NKJV) The first verse should sound very familiar to verse 26 of Luke chapter 6; Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.(Luke 6:26 NKJV)
The reason of course is that Jesus is reminding the people of what they had been taught through the prophets of old. The lessons, which were taught at the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain, were not new to the Jewish people.
However, the sermon does not stop on this negative note, I chose to add verses 27&28. It is in these verses we find our hope and strength, as well as our direction as followers of God.
Verse 27 comes right out of the Commandments of God, as in Love your neighbor as your self. So in essence, Jesus is talking of both spiritual and worldly issues.
So what is meant in the verses that I mentioned? How are we to be in our lives? Can a person be financially sound and spiritually sound at the same time? Can a person have enough food to eat and yet be starving? In addition, how do you know with who or whom to seek good council?
Well the meanings behind the verses are two fold. On the physical level the verses of blessing give up to those who are hungering for a better and fuller life. It also expresses to those who think they have finally made “it” that if this is all they were striving for then they have received their reward, and laments at what could have been much more.
A person can be financially well off and spiritually sound at the same time. However, Jesus also made it clear; that it is harder for a wealthy person to do so because of the connection to the physical wealth is so much stronger. This is why Jesus said; Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20 NKJV) For a poor person is much more appreciative of the little blessings he/she receives from God.
Remember, at no time does Jesus say you must be financially destitute to serve God. Nor should a person live outside their means to support themselves. However the quest for the spiritual riches that await us are far more precious than any amount of success we ever hope to achieve in this world.
In answer to the next question, Can a person have enough food to eat and yet be starving? Yes, one can have enough physically yet be starving for food spiritually. The reverse is also true, a person can be spiritually fed, but not have enough food physically. Who is more likely to have both needs met? The second one more than likely, for the second one knows and lives the words of God spoken through Jeremiah and through Jesus. Blessed is the man who trusts the Lord.
You see the first one, is less likely to be concerned with their spiritual needs, the answer is very similar to that of the wealthy person. When one has plenty of food, one is less likely to be dependent on the Lord especially if this person has never known the Lord, or understands that all things are under His power and authority.
However, even though they may not feel a “need” or “dependency” for the Lord, their souls are still hungering for something to fill that spiritual void. Therefore, these individuals fill their spiritual needs with worldly and physical diversions. Unfortunately, their “need” to fill this vacuum grows, because what is needed to fill it is not there, and that is a relationship with God.