Summary: A sermon for the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany
6th Sunday after the Epiphany
Luke 6: 17-26
17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases;
18 and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.
19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all.
20 ¶ And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 "Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out 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 that are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Our gospel lesson this morning is Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount. Like the Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain is a snap shot of what the Christian life should be like. This preaching does not weigh wealth over poverty, or being well feed over going hungry, but it is more of a statement of how one should live as a follower of Jesus, as one lives in the kingdom of God.
The people in Jesus day thought that if you were rich, successful, happy and popular this was because you were favored by God. But if you were poor, miserable, and rejected, or you had a disability or a terrible accident this was because you, or a relative had done something to displease God.
But Jesus says that is wrong for even those who are poor, who are miserable, who are rejected, those with a disability are all welcomed into the kingdom of God.
But those beliefs of the early Jews are still alive today. The theology of glory, or the prosperity gospel says if you are faithful then God will reward you materially. This theology of glory also says if you are sick and are prayed for but do not get better, then they are told it was because of their lack of faith. So then the ill person becomes guilty and falls into despair.
But Jesus says woe to all of that. Everyone belongs to the kingdom of God.
In Jesus’ teachings, he says that all people are welcomed into the kingdom but as he said to the rich young ruler, to the Pharisees, and to those who had a high value of themselves, it might be more difficult for them to enter the kingdom of God, because they valued themselves more than they did Jesus, and his kingdom.
Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. A Hindu, Gandhi nevertheless admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Gandhi he asked him, "Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?"
Gandhi replied, "Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Apparently Ghandhi’s rejection of Christianity grew out of an incident that happened when he was a young man practicing law in South Africa. He had become attracted to the Christian faith, had studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was seriously exploring becoming a Christian. And so he decided to attend a church service. As he came up the steps of the large church where he intended to go, a white South African elder of the church barred his way at the door. "Where do you think you’re going, kaffir?" the man asked Ghandhi in a belligerent tone of voice.
Ghandhi replied, "I’d like to attend worship here."
The church elder snarled at him, "There’s no room for Kaffirs in this church. Get out of here or I’ll have my assistants throw you down the steps."
Imagine that, Ghandhi was not good enough to worship in a church. This is what Jesus is talking about in the Sermon on the Plain. Everyone is welcomed into the kingdom of God. No one is excluded!