Many are familiar with the teaching of Jesus known as the Beatitudes – Blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, etc. Luke has a slight variation on those teachings. He has some of the same (similar) blessings as recorded in Matthew, but he also adds the contrasts to it.
To “Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God,” he adds, “Woe to you who are rich for you have received your consolation.
To “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled”, he adds, “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.”
To “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh”, he adds “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep”
To “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets”, he adds, “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
These are striking contrasts for us – like looking at the inverse of colorful image of Spring flowers and green growing grass – losing the beauty and seeing something far different.
Jesus isn’t done there, though. As you continue after this in Luke 6, he continues to challenge us with contrasts.
Verses 27-36 – “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…”
Verses 37-42 – “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back…Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”
Verses 43-45 – The tree being known by the fruit that it produces
Verses 46-49 – The parable of the two foundations.
All of these are part of a single teaching in this chapter – they are not separate messages, but instead connected one to another. What I hear in this is the foundation of living these out is ultimately what Jesus is getting at. If we are building on a foundation like he teaches here, our house will stand firm when the storms come. If we build on the shaky foundations like those he speaks of in the “Woes” or a foundation of hating our enemies and living by the mantra of “eye for an eye” or living as judgmental people, we will have shaky foundations that will crumble. The fruit will be seen of “homes” that stay strong or “homes” that crumble.
I see this in much of what is going on in our country right now. The fear, xenophobia, hate, judgment that is being “preached” by politicians is in contrast to what Jesus teaches here. The South Carolina senate just passed a bill this week that could hold churches and organizations responsible if a refugee that they help to resettle commits some crime after coming into the country. How is that living out these words of Jesus? How is the hatred and fear-based messages that are being spoken of reflective of what Jesus calls us to?
Yes, Jesus love is risky love. It is a love that can make our lives uncomfortable, unsafe, difficult, unpredictable. But it is the love that he lived out. The love that he taught. The love that he calls us to. This Easter season, we cannot forget that we serve a God who has overcome the world, who has brought life from death, who has set us free to love in risky ways and allows us to live with hope and trust and not in fear.