The gospel of Luke Chapter 6 is the most important chapter in the Bible for me. Of course it includes the Beatitudes which are primary in teaching us how to live our lives but they include much more than that. I want to concentrate on the first beatitude for this post.
Luke 6:20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God..”
I take these words more literally than some. I believe that those who are treated poorly in this world will have a special place in the next. Conversely those who have much will be judged by how they use their affluence to further God’s kingdom. This thought also aligns with Jesus’ word about those who are first will be last and for those who much is given much will be expected. I think Jesus was talking about the same thing in all these examples.
Like many places in the Bible where there are differing accounts for the same circumstances. Some differences are slight and some are rather dramatic. The writer of Luke deemed his account as the Sermon on the Plan while there is another account in Matthew that author called the Sermon on the Mount. I suspect that both of these accounts were from the same event and just recorded differently by the two authors.
Over the centuries even slight differences in biblical accounts have spurned some pretty significant differences in interpretation. The author of Matthew added two words after the word “poor”; he added “in spirit”. This opened the door to a completely different meaning than what Luke proclaimed. With the words “in spirit” some now say that everyone is included in this and all the other beatitudes as all of us humans are “poor in spirit”. By doing this they are taking away any special or specific meaning the beatitudes.
One thing to remember about all of this is that we don’t really know with any certainty who any of the four authors of the Gospels were. During those times many would write their accounts “in memory of” as we would say today. The accounts were often written from verbally passed down stories of the times but in memory of a particular founding Christian. An example of that this the Book of Judas. Obviously this book, which was not included in the bible and was not rediscovered until recently, was not written by Judas himself but in his name. Realizing that the vast majority of the early Christians were illiterate this understanding should not be surprising to any of us.
There have been literally thousands of theologians over the past twenty centuries that have dissected almost all of Jesus’ words to support their version of Christianity. We have to remember that everyone has an agenda in one form or another when it comes to the biblical interpretation.
Luke 6 covers a wide spectrum of Jesus’ message to us today. I will be interlacing those messages along with additional info about the emergent church movement in future posts.