Luke 6:17-26: Jesus Teaching on Blessing: Part Three
Never before has public opinion counted for so much. Living in an age of twenty four hour news, in a culture where public shaming, on line trolling, managing and marketing an online persona; Christ, Christianity and Christians are in the spotlight like never before. Public opinion is not limited to your family, your school, your town, or even your country, it is universal, it is a new power group able to exert pressure, it is often polarised and tribal, and you don’t have to go far on the internet to find how Christ, Christianity and Christians are caricatured, demonised, marginalised and trivialised. This new world of constant scrutiny is just another manifestation of the ancient battleground between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. We are presently looking at Jesus teaching on blessing as we look at the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:17-26. We have looked at the poor and rich, the hungry and full, and the weeping and laughing. Now we look at those on opposite sides of the publicity war, the hated and the heralded. Luke 6:22-23, 26 reads,
22 ‘“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn 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.’
26 ‘Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.’
We have been talking about the right and wrong ways to read these descriptions. We have noted that Jesus is dividing all of humanity up into two groups. The various positive and negative characteristics are descriptive of one group. The godly are those who are poor, hungry, weeping and hated, the worldly are those who are rich, full, laughing and loved. We spoke about how these contrasting parties represent the victim and the villain, the persecutor and the persecuted, that contrast continues in this beatitude. Our beatitude makes very clear that the hatred we receive is ‘on account of the Son of Man.’ This further clarifies that the categories of poor, hungry, and weeping are descriptions of the disciples and conditions associated with being disciples of Christ.
Today our focus is on the persecution of the godly and acceptance of the worldly. Jesus made clear that the true Christian in this life will be persecuted. John 15:18-21 (ESV),
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
Here we see Jesus on the last evening with his disciples telling them that they will be hated for following him. And Paul repeats the sentiment in 2 Tim. 3:12 (ESV),
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Our sermon today has two points we want to look first at the hated and secondly at the heralded.