Luke 6:17-26 “The Blessing of Pain”

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And now for the news. There has been a car accident, a family of 8 on the way to summer camp was in a rollover, and all died in a fiery inferno.

In national news, riots continue after the killing of George Floyd, who was videotaped as he suffocated while in police custody. Hundreds of buildings have been burned and looting. President Trump responded in a tweet that said “When the looting starts the shooting starts”

In international headlines, COVID 19 has caused over 360,00 people to die!

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 Ok, if there is one thing that kind of annoys me about Christians is that we often ignore painful realities in the world. I am not a negative person, I annoy my wife with my unbridled optimism. But we need to deal with reality at each moment. 
 There is a whole world of people out there that do not consider Christianity plausible because they don’t think we understand evil and suffering in the world BUT we of all people should understand the reality of evil, how to grieve in the face of tragedy, and how to respond with realistic hope.

I hear people like Stephen Fry, Rail against the idea of God because .. well I’m not usually one for allowing atheist on but.

This is real, there are children with bone cancer. But we as believers do not need to run and hide from these realities. The early Church and Jesus, and many other believers knew deeper and darker suffering we could imagine, and yet they persisted in their faith.

Alright, let’s dust ourselves off after listening to Stephen Fry and open our bible and hear from The Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 6:17-19  And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. 

 Jesus descends the hill and three types of people were around him; First, the twelve, those whom he had just chosen to be his Apostles, second, the Disciples, a larger group that were his disciples and had been learning from him for some time and thrid, A multitude of people from Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon.
 They came to hear him and to be healed of diseases and unclean spirits. And this is typical of what we have already seen. Jesus is a perfect healer, he heals all who come to him, but there is something deeper about the last line.

And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. Luke 6:19

 Jesus is about to give his core teaching, the sermon on the mount. He does it right after coming down from the mountain. This takes us back to Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. But in the OT God had to be separated from the people. Because if sinful people got too close to God they would die. 
 Exodus 19:24  And the LORD said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.” 

 But now, Jesus has come down the mountain to be with the people. God himself has come in the flesh but instead of bringing instant death to whoever comes near, Jesus brings instant life and healing.
This is a picture of life in the new covenant, Instead of being separated from God because his holiness destroys the evil it touches, with Jesus all that he touches becomes holy and is brought into intimate fellowship with Him.
 Jesus wants to be close to you, you may be in sin, you may feel unworthy, but Jesus saves those who cannot save themselves. All you need to do is believe that Jesus is Lord, has died for your sins which you are sorry about. By this, you can be close to God and be saved. When your each out in faith Jesus will touch you and make you holy by his power and grace. 

So the crowd is gathered from all across the region, Jews and probably some gentiles as well. And Jesus begins to teach them.

Luke 6:20-26  And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “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! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. 

Point 1 – We are blessed in suffering because we have the Church.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:21-22

Two realities are present here about suffering, one is that it “Shall” be different. See right here (Highlight word) And Here. We will get to that in point 2, but the other reality is the Blessing, (highlight, highlight, highlight) is present. In being poor, in being hungry, in weeping. The New Testament is full of this idea, It’s no wonder James, brother of our Lord begins his letter with this line
James 1:2 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 
 If he were to say it like Jesus, he would say, “Blessed are those who have trails!” 
 James will make the point that trials often produce good character in us, but Jesus here points to the fact that the poor, in Christ are blessed because “yours is the kingdom of God”

 The Kingdom of God is not just some future pie in the sky hope. But it is right here among us, it is the Church. Jesus, when Peter speaks of all the disciples have given up to follow Him, points to the reality of the present blessing of the Church.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29   
 We may have little in this present life, we may hunger, we may be poor, but we have more than we need when we have the Church.

Point 2 – We are blessed now because we have a sure inheritance.

 As I write this, there are terrible riots in Minneapolis, in a neighbourhood that I lived in for a couple of months. All due to the unjust killing of a man under arrest which was captured on video. The brokenness of our world is very present for me. How can we have hope in pain? 

Notice the change of time tenses in Jesus words
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

But the next two blessings, 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
The person who is currently lacking in food or happiness has a blessing in the present because their future state will be the opposite of their current state.

When we know what is due to us, it changes our behaviour in the present. I might be a little worried about my finances presently, but I know my house back in Manitoba is going to sell and because I have this money coming in my current situation does not bother me at all. 
 
Our sure inheritance In Christ makes us blessed even when we are poor, hungry, or in sorrow.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 
Having an inheritance changes everything. If you knew that a check for 100,000 dollars was coming in 6 months how much would you complain about your current financial situation? In Christ, we are heirs of the world.
1 Corinthians 3:21-22  So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future- all are yours, 
 this is the inheritance we have! If you know that all things are yours, how can you count yourself as anything but blessed in whatever present trouble that you might be in?

 We are blessed in the present because of the hope of the future inheritance

Luke 6:21  21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
 Think of Micheal Jordan, he was a poor kid with nothing, but you look at pictures of him and you never for a moment feel bad for his upbringing because you know he is going to be a billionaire.
 When you are poor in Christ you are like that kid in the dusty poor house, but how can you complain when all the riches of Jesus Christ are just around the corner. 
 Point 2 – We are blessed now because we have a sure inheritance.

Point 3) We are blessed in suffering because we will be rewarded according to our Pain.

Luke 6:22-23 “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! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 

 There are common sayings that I just can’t stand and one of them is “Life’s not fair”. This is true in one way, good and bad seem to happen to people at random, but it will not be so in the long run. God is just, God will punish and reward everything equitable measure. 
 Now He just does not do so right away because He is graceful and forgiving. I heard someone say this week, “If God got rid of all evil in the world at noon would you be around at 12:01?” It’s good that God waits to punish evil! 
But the bible is clear
Romans 2:6-8  He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 
So when you are suffering because you are doing right, remember that you will be rewarded for the suffering that you undergo. I don’t know what it will look like but it’s a truth we see again and again in scripture
 For those that undergo extreme pain, IN CHRIST, in this present life, they will be rewarded in greater ways than those that have a more pleasant time of things. And it’s not just persecution, because Jesus list’s common suffering like hunger and sadness right alongside persecution in this list. So to Stephen Fry who berates God for not making all things right, right now I have to say that God will do right. And for those unfortunate souls who suffer so much unjustly, God will set things right.
 Point 3) We are blessed in suffering because we will be rewarded according to how much we suffer.

4) We are blessed in suffering because we are united with Jesus in suffering
 “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!
Luke 6:22

Peter says

1 Peter 4:13  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 

 Jesus teaches us that suffering is not pointless. Jesus suffered on the cross to die for the sins of the world. Jesus transforms the worst thing, the cross, into the best thing, salvation.
 When we suffer for any reason except for our sin, when we suffer because of sin we are not blessed, but when we suffer innocently we suffer as Jesus did. We are joined with Christ as we suffer and it’s one way that we become more like him.
We see suffering due to persecution in Jesus’ words, Luke 6:22  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! 

This leads us to a somewhat difficult but important scripture
Colossians 1:24  Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 

When Paul suffered, he realized that in a very real way Jesus was suffering with him. Jesus’s sacrifice is once for all and we do not add to it in any way. But insomuch as we are Christ’s body, we suffer with him as we suffer.
In the middle of Romans 8 which has all these exalted promises of what we have in Christ, Paul reminds us.
Romans 8:17  and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

When we suffer we are passing through, with Christ, a necessary step on the way to glory.

Practically when we are suffering we need to dwell richly on this point. When we suffer with Christ we are becoming more like Christ. When we are deprived of food we are like Christ in the desert. When we are insulted we are like Christ in so many circumstances, when we die we die as Christ died. And so at every stage of pain, lack or hunger we can look to Christ knowing that He by faith is walked before us on the path of suffering. And because we walk with Him we can have confidence that we will be glorified Just as Christ was glorified.
 We are blessed in suffering because we are united with Jesus in suffering

5) When we hunger/poor/weep, we avoid the woe’s that Jesus spoke concerning the rich

Luke 6:24-26  “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. 

This should be uncomfortable for you. I know it’s getting uncomfortable for me. We can Spiritualize the poor, the hungry, and such, but when Jesus flips it around it hits hard.

We can see that Jesus is giving the inverse of what he gave above. And this method of teaching with blessings and woe’s is a common one from the Old Testament.

In Deuteronomy, there are blessings and curses for following the law or not. “curse” being another way to speak about the Law. 

Deuteronomy 28:3  3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 
Deuteronomy 28:15-16  15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 

 The curses and blessing in Deuteronomy were simple, Whoever obeyed the law was blessed, whoever neglected the law was cursed.
But in Jesus, the blessing and curses, or blessing and woe’s were not based on WHAT you were doing in the present, but who you were WITH in the present.

So all who are with Jesus are blessed, but all who are without him are cursed.

Oh, a question, from 
“yes it’s me, ‘well actually’ guy. (space)

Ahh, I well actually guy, grrrr. but I’ll just move over here so they can see both of us. 

Question – “well actually” Guy
“well actually”
“So it’s nice how you spiritualized this text, But actually Jesus clearly says, Cursed are the rich and blessed are the poor. How can you say he is merely speaking about those who believe in him when it does not mention that in the text. Jesus really teaches that only the poor will be blessed and the rich will rot in hell!” 

Ok, I try to be polite, but I hate the “Well Actually guy” probably because he reminds me of someone…

 This idea is wrong because it fails to understand the wider context of the whole bible and Jesus himself. Jesus loves to use Hyperbole to teach, it’s something that we do all the time and it’s a common function of speech. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. Now you know I am not actually going to eat a whole horse, but I’m merely saying I’m very very hungry.

When Jesus says, “woe to you rich” he is subverting the expectations of his listeners, they think the rich are blessed, the poor are cursed. They might get this implication from reading the book of Deuteronomy.

 But Jesus is correcting their false views to paraphrase Jesus is saying, “You think that the rich are blessed but they are actually cursed if they don’t have me. You think the full are blessed, but they are cursed without me.
Now I ad the “without Jesus” part because Jesus has already explicitly connected all of the blessings and woe’s with himself in Verse 22. 
 Luke 6:22  account of the Son of Man” (wave hand for bold effect)

 As annoying as “well actually” guy is we should not overlook the force of Jesus plain words about the woe’s of being rich and the blessing of being poor here. Because in Jesus ministry the poor and outcast are one’s coming to him primarily. Now there is Nicodemus and Zachceous and others of wealth that come to Jesus, but they are more the exception. 

 Those who are poor know their need for a saviour. And in this way, they are blessed. They are blessed because they are the ones who come to Christ. They are blessed because they are less likely to let the pleasures of the world and it’s riches choke out the word from their lives. 

 If we are rich we should take warning. Pride in riches is a precarious position to be in and Jesus unequivocally highlights this. 

 And so we can count it a blessing when we have little and are forced to look to God, but on the flip side, we should take warning when we have an abundance and we are tempted to trust in ourselves. 

Summary

WHAT REASON’S DO CHRISTIANS HAVE TO CONSIDER THEMSELVES BLESSED IN ALL THESE NEGATIVE CIRCUMSTANCES?

We are blessed, even in poverty because (Slow here)

1) we have the Church.

2) we have a sure inheritance.

3) we will be rewarded according to our Pain

4)  we are united with Jesus in suffering

5) we avoid the woes of the rich

So, pastor what would you tell a child with bone cancer? how do you respond when you are faced with overwhelming tragedy?

Life is hard. But Jesus loves you. He loves you with a never stopping never giving up love like your parents love you except deeper and more eternal because he knows your fully and he gave his life for your sins. He asks you to believe in Him and He will bless you. 

 When you believing in Him may not heal your Cancer but it will change how you face your cancer. Because in Christ we are blessed most when we suffer.
Because we have a sure inheritance with God and we live through suffering knowing that we have a treasure that even the darkest day cannot dim.
 We can look past the hard scary things of today because the present suffering is just short breath compared to an eternal weight of glory just over the horizon. A Glory that is rising just as surely as the sun.
Jesus promises that he will make up for every tear that you cry, every moment of pain with an eternal reward far beyond our dim understanding.
 Most of all when with suffer with Jesus, we suffer with Jesus Christ. Because Jesus lives in us when we believe in him. So that every tear we cry he cries. Every pain we feel, he feels. And we will know more and more that as surely as we suffer with Jesus now there will come a day when we will feast in glory with Jesus and He will make everything sad come untrue.

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