The Book of Luke, The Sermon on the Mount Ė The Woes Ė Lesson 74
In contrast to the blessings that the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims in Luke 6:20-23, he continues his sermon on the mount with a message of woe to the multitudes who have come for various reasons.
The woes of Luke 6:24-26 follow the blesseds.
But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
For each beatitude then, there is an associated woe.
A blessing for the poor, a curse for the rich.
A blessing for the hungry, a curse for the filled.
A blessing for those of no worldly influence or reputation, a curse for those who are spoken well of by all men.
The woes of this sermon are contrary to worldly standards of evaluation.
A worldly person believes that the poor man is to be pitied, the rich is to be envied.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is not speaking against all people who possess wealth for there is no trespass in having wealth unless it is not used for the glory of God.
No doubt in the assembled crowd of that size there were many rich people standing before him.
Most likely the Pharisees and scribes and rulers were there.
There were people in every layer of society for we are told that those of the multitude came from far and wide to hear Jesus.
So this message of woes is for those who find security in their riches, those who do not suffer hunger, those who are spoken well of in the community, those who depend and trust in themselves.
For the woes of the Lord Jesus Christ speak of the short and temporary satisfaction by the things of this world.
For the riches of this world are not forever.
The fullness of this world is temporal.
God will not ask for letters of recommendation from those that speak well of you on this earth.
We will not provide God with a resume that will satisfy Him.
What men may think of you will not count for anything at the Judgment, for men do not know your heart.
It is interesting to observe how much of life is spent on things that do not last.
Jesus always told us: John 6:27, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Jesus Christ always preached about the pursuit of things that have eternal value.
That is what faith is all about, the pursuit of things eternal and consequently the rejection of things temporal.
If your life is all about the pursuit of that which is temporal you have a faith problem for faith always points you to things eternal.
Jesus Christ in this sermon about blesseds and woes, preached of things eternal.
When the Lord Jesus Christ spoke the ďblessedsĒ to his Apostles they were encouragements for their sufferings for their sufferings will result in eternal happiness.
But there is to come no eternal happiness to the rich, to the full, to those of high reputation who live without God.
For the rich, the full, those of reputation have chosen the temporal and that is all that they will receive from God.
And if that is all they will receive from God that result of life is dire, dreadful, horrible and dismal Ė in Jesusí words the judgment of a woe.
A woe is a cursing. A woe is a misery; a woe is anguish, and despair, affliction, wretchedness and sadness.
The self satisfied were standing before Jesus Christ perhaps confident in the monetary worth of their portfolio and their community standing and exhibited pride for their position.
But pride does not survive in the presence of Jesus Christ for pride is an abomination and will be put down.
The Lord Jesus Christ was there to encourage his Apostles but he was also there to puncture and deflate hearts of pride.
And he does it by telling the rich, the full, those of high community standing that they should be miserable, that they should be in despair, and affliction, wretched and sad.
For that is their true condition in the mind of God however elevated they see themselves.
They see themselves in a way, not of reality, for the sinful heart does not know reality for reality can only be revealed by God.
We can only know reality by knowing the mind of God and we can only know the mind of God by knowing His word.
We are not capable to think the mind of God for our mind is corrupted by sin and does not work the way Godís mind works.
For we are told in:
Isaiah 55:8, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The blesseds and the woes that are pronounced by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount reveal to us the mind of God.
They tell us that what Isaiah 55:8 says is true for the natural man does not think that poverty, hunger loss of reputation for the sake of Jesus Christ is blessed.
Nor does the natural man look upon riches, fullness and good standing in the community as miserable and wretched.
But this is the true picture of things according to the mind of Christ.
This is reality as far as God is concerned and we ought to see it as God sees it.
And if we see things as they truly are then those who serve Christ must know that whatever comes in that service is blessed.
And those who live for themselves should be miserable, wretched, despairing and afflicted, for their lives have no eternal value.
This is what should be felt as a present condition in these two groups that Jesus Christ brings to our notice.
Faith in God tells us that living for Christ is blessed, now and forever.
But living for yourself apart from God, is miserable and wretched, now and forever.
That is how the Lord saw the Laodicean church of the book of Revelation.
He did not see them as they would become because of their ways but he saw them as they truly were at the time.
Rev. 3:17-18, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
They saw themselves in a different way than God saw them.
They saw themselves as rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing.
But all they had was gold that they could see, gold that was stored in the vault of the bank, gold of this world and not the gold of God tried in the fire, gold that is eternal and paves the streets of the Heavenly city.
They had garments fine and adorned but they did not have the white raiment washed in the blood that is the righteousness of Christ.
Their clothes were symbols of all the self righteous edifices that they had erected to be accepted by God, but none would satisfy God except the white raiment provided to each of his children though the Lord Jesus Christ.
They saw themselves in ways that revealed to God that they were truly blind and needed Godís eyesalve which is Godís word.
They saw themselves as rich, and increased with goods, in need of nothing but God saw them as they were -wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
We see in this passage of the Sermon on the Mount the same divine eyesight of Jesus Christ as he sees the true condition of the Apostles, as they serve Christ.
They will suffer poverty, hunger, weeping, hatred and reproach but this he pronounces as blessed.
And he sees those who live their lives their way, who do their own thing and may be rich, and well fed, and laughing, and may be thought of highly; he sees these as wretched, miserable, afflicted, and in anguish.
The point of the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount is very clear.
Men must make decisions as to their values and their priorities in line with the word of God for those decisions have eternal consequences.
Those decisions bring either a blessing or a curse.
Making decisions in line and obedient to the word of God will result in blessing.
But making decisions apart from the mind of God will result in misery, despair and woe.
Decision making always includes the forsaking of some things in the pursuit of others.
Not all men must forsake wealth to follow Christ, although all must forsake the love of money, and the pursuit of riches as their lifeís work.
Life involves choices every day and each man, each women, chooses what in life to pursue.
Every choice will result in blessings or will result in woes for this is fore ordained by God.
The world tells you that being rich, being full, being thought of highly is always blessed but the word of God disagrees.
The word of God is the only revealer of what is truly blessed by God and what is truly cursed by God.
The word of God is the only truth and must be obeyed if eternal blessings are to be realized in this life and hereafter.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of a gift, the gift of eternal life, which is of infinite worth.
To know Jesus Christ is worth the loss of anything else.
The price is that we must acknowledge our sins and trust only in Christ.
We must forsake all other gods and follow Christ alone.
If such a choice comes at the price of poverty, hunger, sadness and rejection from men, it is well worth it, and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ as he spoke on the mount, it is blessed.
We are assured by this Sermon that following Him is better than anything else life has to offer.
Jesus never minimized the cost of following Him.
He didnít need to, because he is the pearl of great price.
Having God as your Father is the greatest of all blessings.
All other ďblessingsĒ are but dung in comparison.
But in order to enjoy these blessings Godís word must be believed.
Godís values, and not the earthís values must be adopted and that takes faith.
God has so arranged it that way for without faith you cannot please Him.
It is not the pursuit of riches that is wrong, but the pursuit of false riches, temporal riches.
The riches to pursue are eternal riches which only God can provide.
The only place where the right view of things can be found is in Godís word for only in Godís word is Godís mind revealed.
Believe it and Godís blesseds will apply to you or donít believe it and you will be under the woes of God.
Godís blesseds will not only lead to eternal happiness and bliss but if believed by faith will bring present happiness and bliss even in this life whatever this life of service brings.
And conversely a life lived for yourself will not only lead to eternal misery, affliction, and despair, but God tells us that this is the condition of such people in this life.
For this, you have the word of the Lord Jesus Christ as he preached it on the Mount.