Jesus finishes his blessings and proceeds to pronounce woe upon certain groups. For those of you unaware of what woe is, it is similar to someone saying “how dreadful.” It is something that is horrific, a state of hardship or distress. And so when surely when his audience heard these words of Jesus in Luke 6.24:
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort”
no doubt they did a double-take. “Jesus, are you serious? Those who are rich are the ones who have it rough?” That’s right, because they have already received their comfort. Whereas the one who is utterly dependant upon God because they acknowledge they are in need. The rich are predisposed to have the view that they are not in need. There is nothing they need. Hence, they are in comfort. In fact, most rich people are tormented because of their wealth. Therefore, the woe is well said: it is a horrific thing to be rich and is a state of hardship. As one commentator wrote about this verse: “When all that anyone has is worldly weath he is poor indeed.”
Perhaps Jesus’ audience consisted of rich people, however, this statement was not to his disciples present for they were poor. It was not uncommon for John the Baptists application points to come from those present and certainly Jesus would have done the same (and did the same on some occassions).
How does this reach us today? Well, certainly there is nothing wrong with being wealthy: Scripture says Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all wealthy men. Rather, when wealth becomes your focus, your love, it is time to refocus and reevaluate. Our dependance is not on stuff or things, but rests solely upon Jesus Christ and his sacrifice.