From Bill and Ted to Joey Lawrence, “WHOA!” has been the battle-cry of the California dude. Today we’ll see Jesus jump in on the game and let loose a whole string of “Woes.”
While most of us love to talk about the Jesus who proscribes blessings, we can’t ignore the Jesus who pronounces woes.
Here’s today’s word…
No, we’re not talking about happy bees and sad bees. Although, who doesn’t love a happy bee?!
Beatitude means “state of blessedness or happiness.” In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his audience that if they fit into certain life categories, then they are blessed or happy. One way of translating the word “blessed” in the Bible is “lucky.”
Which is really funny because the life situations that Jesus talks about aren’t those that we see in our lives and consider ourselves lucky or fortunate. Seems Jesus is trying to flip this world on its head.
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.
Do these seem like qualities of people we would envy? Is this person someone we would consider fortunate? When we see people like this we say, “Man, there’s just no chance. He’s toast – a loser. How could such a person be part of what God is doing?”
Hungry. Mourning. Hated.
Sounds like your typical life loser. The underdog. These are the people Jesus calls lucky. He radically changes our ideas of who and what is important in the kingdom of God. He turns the table on the people who live their best life now.
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.
Underdogs are determined by outward appearances. People who are have no hope. People who have no joy. People who have no power. People who fight against the world and never know justice. These are not the kind of people the world looks at and says, “Here’s a winner!” But the words of Jesus reflect Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the LORD, to glorify him.
Underdogs to the world, but Jesus speaks of a reversal of circumstances for those who are unfortunate. These are undesirable conditions that God will one day make right. There is a song by the band Third Day that talks about people who are living an underdog kind of life—broken and hurting people. And the simple answer for the underdog is this—Cry Out to Jesus.
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is Your Grace Is Enough. The songwriter says, “God remember us, remember your promise—even still, your grace is enough.”
Look at the situations in which Jesus calls people blessed. I don’t think any reasonable person would wish for those things in life. But our happiness is not dependent on our life circumstances. Ultimately, our happiness is based on another reality—a future reality. No matter what we face, the grace of God is sufficient for our lives.
As you listen, ask yourself: Where do Jesus’ pronouncement of blessing apply to my life?
How can I see myself as blessed even when I’m not feeling like this world is providing happiness?
How is God’s grace enough for me?”
Our second song this morning is Oh, Happy Day and simply declares:
Oh, happy day
When Jesus washed my sins away!
You can’t talk about being blessed, lucky, and happy without listening to some good Gospel music! In all seriousness, when we talk about the blessedness that is realized in a future reality, it is based on this “happy day” when Jesus made it possible to be reconciled to God.
– Can I celebrate this happy day in my life?
– Can I consider myself blessed even in struggle?
MAKING IT REAL:
– This week, think about the areas of your life where you FEEL blessed. Think about the areas where you DON’T feel blessed. Ask how God can bless you in spite of your struggle.
– If you have never come to the point in your life where you have said, “I want to be a Christ-follower” then make that decision today. Shoot us an email and we’d love to talk to you about it.
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, movie addict (seriously, if it’s on a screen he'll watch it—doesn’t matter how crummy or low-budget), and a Navy Chaplain, currently assigned to Naval Air Station, Meridian. Chris has a deep desire to help people live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live everyday. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He went on to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Pastoral Preaching. Follow him at @chrislinzey.