Luke Chapter 6…

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.

Beatitudes

In line with the last post about possible bias by the Gospel writers in relation to the Beatitudes let’s look at some modern day interpretations. To those of us who think one of the primary reasons Jesus came to us was to show us how to live the Beatitudes are front and center among Jesus’s words.  In light of the last post I am going to include Matthew’s version here as well as Luke’s . You can see the differences yourself:

Matthew (beginning 5:3)

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Luke (beginning at 6:21)

  • Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
  • Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
  • Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

    (additional connected verses in Luke)

  • “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.
  • But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
  • Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
  • Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
  • Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

I recently came across an interpretation of these verses with a very different twist. The author of this view says that Jesus was really talking about all of us in our current state and didn’t intend to single out any particular minority or group for favor or attention. This seems to align with the supposed difference between Matthew and Luke as reported in the last post. One of the examples given in this recent portrayal was that when we try to evangelize someone and they return our attempts with less than civil language then we are peacemakers when we don’t attack them back?? The author of this interpretation went on to give similar examples to most of the other verses above.

I am afraid that this type of misalignment seems common among some Christian denominations. They start out with their founder’s basic views and then try to “interpret” the Bible, red letters and all, to match the founder’s philosophy. Where they don’t want to have to do what Jesus says they downplay the words into non-significance. Sometimes this twisting can become so extreme that surely even they do it don’t really believe what they are saying.

Rather than simply laying back and letting the Lord’s grace flow over me I will continue to treat the Beatitudes, along with the other red letters in the Bible as a call to action. Jesus meant what he said and he meant for us to listen and act upon his words.