Sermon on the Plain, part 3

I’m probably not like everyone else; or at least I would hope I am not. When I get hungry, my body starts to shut down. I get upset and quiet and about the only thing that alleviate this is to feed me. If you want it to go, you have to feed the machine. And so when I read Luke 6.21, there is a part of me that cringes:

“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be filled.”

I don’t like being hungry and the people around me don’t like it when I’m hungry. So where is the blessing in that? Or what about the rest of the verse:

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

Jesus has once again shown us the topsy-turvy nature of the kingdom of God. Luke leaves out a part that Matthew has about “thirsting for rigtheousness,” but the idea is implied, at least about righteousness. Luke, though, as is characteristic of his gospel, emphasizes the real need. Matthew’s account has no real parallel to the weeping, although the argument can be made that “mourning” is the parallel. So there is the technical stuff.

Now what does it all mean. What does Jesus expect his disciples to understand and walk away with after the instruction is over? More importantly, what does this tell us about God? Jesus’ disciples no doubt knew what it was like to be hungry and without food. Also, they may have been familiar with weeping inasmuch as they were away from their families for so long. Certainly Jesus was familiar with both of these things: he fasted forty days and wept over his friend Lazarus. But Jesus is sure to emphasize the fact that this is present reality. We hunger and weep now. However, Jesus has not called his disciples to a life such as they have that does not reward them greatly. Though now they hunger and weep, there is future blessing to the disciple of Jesus. There is a filling or satisfaction that is yet future. Matthew’s gospel emphasizes that the filling can take place in this life (concerning righteousness) and perhaps Jesus is addressing that in Luke’s gospel as well: though at the present you are hungry, God will provide what you need and will fill you up. Though now you weep, God will not only wipe away all tears, he will provide you with laughter. Perhaps these things also apply to something yet future for a disciple that can only be experienced in eternity: God will remove the hunger and satisfy completely and though the disciple is surrounded by evil and suffering that causes weeping, God too will remove that and bring complete joy. I would lean toward all of this being correct – both in this life and in the life to come, God satisfies and brings us joy.

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