John T. Willis

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Jesus' Four Beatitudes and Four Woes--Luke 6:20-26

After choosing his twelve disciples or apostles and healing many people, Jesus now teaches his disciples with a sermon on the plain or on the level place [see Luke 6:17]. This sermon is only thirty verses in comparison with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, which has 107 verses. The first portion of the Sermon on the Plain consists of four beatitudes and four woes. Each beatitude has its counterpart in the woes. This appears in Luke 6:20-26, and naturally falls into two parts.

I. The Four Beatitudes. Luke 6:20-23.
a. Jesus lifted up his eyes upon his disciples and began to speak. 6:20a.
b. First beatitude--Blessed are you [Jesus' disciples] who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. The word "blessed" means a person's internal happiness in the heart. Such a person is happy, prosperous, fortunate although externally poor. What a terrible mistake to assume that a person is successful or personally happy because he or she is wealthy. 6:20b.
c. Second beatitude--Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled." Physical hunger is painful and challenging. But God has the ability of filling our lives even when we do not have food. 6:21a.
d. Third beatitude--Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Crying or weeping is NOT a bad character. It is just the opposite. God has created all of us to weep when we suffer illness or losses or terrible situations, when we sin, when the world stands in opposition to God. In this context, laughter is internal joy of the heart since the kingdom of God constantly bombards our lives. 6:21b.
e. Fourth beatitude--Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy, for you reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. Many of us have encountered people who hate us, who exclude us from their lives, who revile us, who defame us. Do not be surprised because of this, because this is exactly the way people treated Jesus. This attitude reflects an ungodly, unChristian feeling. God blesses us when treated by such people. Recall the stories of Ahab and Jezebel hating Elijah; Jeremiah's false prophets scorning Jeremiah like in the account of Hananiah; and many others. 6:22-23.

II. The Four Woes. Luke 6:24-26. [NOTE: The four woes are counterparts of the four beatitudes, and thus do not call for much additional comment].
a. First Woe--Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Unfortunately, many people spend their lives trying to achieve wealth. Jesus says: they already have their reward. But all human beings die. What happens then? That is the question. 6:24.
b. Second Woe--Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Physical food never satisfies any individual. There is much more to life than being satisfied with physical food. 6:25a.
c. Third Woe--Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Receiving the pleasures of good health, wealth, and the like is very temporal. Time flies. It is not long until we all experience deaths, losses, illnesses, and the like. It is very important for all of us to live realistic lives. 6:25b.
d. Fourth Woe--Woe to you when all speak well of you, forthat is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. A widespread good reputation is not an acceptable goal in life. This is deceptive indeed. GOD ALONE knows the heart and HE ALONE will make the final decision of each one of us. 6:26.

Jesus' teaching is challenging. He has the ability of changing our hearts and lives.

Share YOUR insights and experiences and failures and aspirations with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, January 30, 2012

God's Mission to Restore All Peoples--Part 2

When human beings wanted to make a name for themselves [thus, they were (and are) arrogant, self-centered, egotistical], God scattered them over all the earth and confused their language into many languages. Soon, God called Abram in Ur of the Chaldeans and gave Abram three promises:
1. I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven and the sand by the seashore.
2. I will give your descendants the land of Canaan.
3. By you [Abram] and your descendants [the Israelites] all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:15-18; 26:3-5; 28:13-14--and often throughout the Bible).

God's plan, God's purpose, God's vision, God's desire, God's mission is to restore all peoples on earth to God.

Thus, God chose Abraham and his descendants [the Israelites] to bless all nations.

Three key passages emphasize this truth.

Psalm 47: "Clap your hands, ALL YOU PEOPLES;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over ALL THE EARTH.
He subdued PEOPLES under us,
and NATIONS under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.
God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
sing praises with a psalm.
God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of THE PEOPLES gather
as the peopole of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the EARTH belong to God;
he is highly exalted."

Psalm 67: "May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon EARTH,
your saving power among ALL NATIONS.
Let THE PEOPLES praise you, O God;
let ALL THE PEOPLES praise you.
Let THE NATIONS be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge THE PEOPLES with equity
Let THE PEOPLES praise you, O God;
let ALL THE PEOPLES praise you.
THE EARTH has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
Let THE ENDS OF THE EARTH revere him."

Jeremiah 4:1-2: "If you return, O Israel, says the Lord,
if you return to me,
if you remove your abominations from my presence,
and do not waver,
and if you swear, 'As the Lord lives!'
in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,
and by him THEY shall boast."

Mull over these three texts. Note the close connection between God's chosen people and all peoples or nations on earth. God is on a mission to restore all peoples on earth to him.

Share YOUR insights and issues and concerns and experiences and feelings with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jesus Chooses 12 Disciples, Teaches, Heals--Luke 6:12-19

After Jesus rebuked the religious leaders who criticized Jesus for helping people on the Sabbath, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, on the next day chose 12 disciples, then taught and healed a great crowd of people. Luke relates this in Luke 6:12-19, which falls into two paragraphs.

I. Jesus Chooses the Twelve. Luke 6:12-16.
a. During the days that Jesus was reacting to the critical religious leaders in Galilee, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray. The Bible does not specific which mountain appears here. Jesus spent all night in prayer with his heavenly Father. Throughout Luke, Jesus often prays when a significant situation existed. In preparation for choosing 12 people as his disciples, Jesus spent all night in prayer. Any time we confront serious situations, it is imperative that we first spend much time in prayer. 6:12.
b. The next morning, Jesus called his disciples and selected 12 people whom he also named "apostles." According to the Bible, "apostles" are people sent out. They are emissaries or witnesses to what they heard and saw that Jesus said and did. See
1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:5, 8; Galatians 1:15-16. These are the people Jesus chose that they would proclaim God's message to the world after Jesus' death. 6:13.
c. Luke now lists the 12 people in three groups of four each.
1. Simon, whom Jesus named Peter (see 5:8; Mark 3:16; Matthew 16:16-19); Andrew, brother of Simon Peter; James and John, sons of Zebedee (see 5:10; Mark
3:17; Matthew 10:2).
2. Philip; Bartholomew (see Acts 1:13); Matthew; and Thomas.
3. James, son of Alphaeus [not James the Little in Mark 15:40; and not James the brother of the Lord in Galatians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 15:6]; Simon, who was called the Zealot [a Zealot was an individual Palestinian Jew who opposed the Roman occupation of Palestine]; Judas son of James [see Acts 1:13]; and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor to Jesus. "Iscariot" is a Greek transliteration from Hebrew, "Ish-Keriot," which means "a man from Keriot," a village about 12 miles south of Hebron in Judah. 6:14-16.

II. Jesus Teaches and Heals People in a Great Crowd. Luke 6:17-19.
a. After choosing his twelve disciples on the unnamed mountain, Jesus and they went down and stood on a level place with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. People in the crowd from Tyre and Sidon were Phoenicians, thus pagans, and Jesus taught and healed them. See Acts 21:3, 7; 27:3. Jesus, in imitation of his Father and Creator, is concerned about all people, not just his chosen people. 6:17.
b. The crowds came to Jesus for two purposes: (1) to hear what Jesus was teaching; (2) to be healed of their diseases. Jesus did this, curing people who were troubled with unclean spirits. Jesus is carrying out his mission to teach and to heal. 6:18.
c. All the people in the crowd were trying to TOUCH Jesus, because power came out from Jesus and he healed all of them. Jesus' power comes from God the Father. God alone can heal people. 6:19.

Jesus' mission is a great example for all his followers. May we learn deeply from his example.

Share YOUR experiences and feelings and needs and failures and desires with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis