Kingdom Living (Luke 6:20-49)

 

MOTIVATE

“Hayden Planetarium in NY City ran an advertisement in NY newspapers inviting those who would like to make the first journey to another planet to submit an application. Within a matter of days, over 18,000 people applied. These applications were then given to a panel of psychologists, who upon reviewing them concluded that the vast majority of those who had applied wanted to start a new life on another planet because they were so discouraged by life on this one.”[1]

Why does life in the here and now never seem to produce what we hope? You see, no matter who you are, where you live, how old you are, the reality is that we all are longing for a perfect world. Everyone is looking for happiness but they can hardly find it. The people in the previous story would rather move to another world to find happiness. The truth is finding happiness does not mean moving to another world but living for another world. God’s kingdom is not a far removed place, irrelevant to the here and now. For the Christian, forever starts immediately. We are forever people who have lost a forever perspective. Eternity has been set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and Jesus has come that we might start life anew and set our affections for this otherly, new world – this is His teaching commonly known as “The Beatitudes”. In this passage we can see 3 perspectives of kingdom living.

 

EXAMINE                             Luke 6:20-49

A large crowd surrounds Jesus. He has become quite popular, mostly for his reputation as a healer and miracle worker. Yet, his teaching continues to draw followers as well.

God’s kingdom belongs to those with eternity in view (6:20-26)

Jesus gives 4 blessings and 4 woes = 2 groups of people; those of the kingdom and those not.

–          blessed (makarios) is more than happiness.

Happiness depends on circumstances, something pursued; Blessedness depends on God-given contentment, something that we receive outside of self, from God.

*God is a Blesser – he loves to pour out grace, love, joy, happiness if we trust and follow.

–     woe (ouai) is expression of regret or grief, not threat.

 

Blessed are poor; Woe to rich. Jesus is blessing those who recognize they are in need. The word poor (ptochoi) means begging poor, not just poor with few resources (penichros). So, Jesus is not showing preference for a social class or poverty itself, but one’s spiritual condition.[2] Likewise, the rich in this world have already received their consolation. They are not looking for God’s blessing. They are without need in this world.

For the worldly rich[3], you are as close to heaven as you will ever be. For the worldly poor but spiritually rich, you are as close to hell as you will ever be. Jesus is saying that thekingdom ofGod is available to all who recognize their need. Matthew’s Gospel (5:3) says “blessed are the poor in spirit”.

-Is your pursuit of happiness rooted in the wealth of this world? Are you tired of promises to please but ones that are always failing to fulfill?

Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25)

Blessed are hungry; Woe to full now. Jesus is promising blessing to those who long for the fulfillment that only eternity can bring. Today, we do not have a food problem as much as we have a diet problem. Likewise, the spiritual hunger in our world can be solved if Christians not just talk about the gospel but live it out in the integrity of their lives.

John 4:32, 34 “I have food to eat that you do not about…My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
– What are you feeding your soul? Are you tired of the junkfood and candy that the world offers when the gospel offers you life substance – meat!

Blessed are weeping; Woe laugh now. Jesus promises those who experience sadness and sorrow in this world that comfort is available now and also that things will be made right in the future. Wrongs will be made right. The broken will be fixed. Heartaches will be healed. Cries of sadness will turn to tears of joy.

Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.” 

Isaiah 61:3 “[God will] grant to those who mourn in Zion – give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit” 

John 16:20-22 “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.”

Blessed are persecuted; Woe is flattery. Jesus reminds the disciples that those who live for the kingdom of God will endure hardship. Persecution will come in the form of hatred, exclusion, harsh treatment physically and emotionally.

– Persecution will bring reward in heaven.

– Persecution identifies you with great saints of the past, even Jesus himself.

“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:14-17)


God’s kingdom belongs to those with love in view (6:27-42)

Jesus continues teaching about kingdom living. He says it is not about those living for self in the here and now but those who love others in view of eternity. His command is to “love your enemies”. And his command isn’t left in vague terms but provides 5 practical point concerning loving enemies: 1) love them, 2) do good to them, 3) bless them (cf. Romans 12:14), 4) pray for them, 5) give/lend to them.

Still further, loving others means not to condemn others but offer forgiveness. The forgiven give forgiveness. It is realizing that in all of eternity we must be people of grace. But we also must be careful to understand that such grace does not mean we do not hold people accountable. Jesus says we can judge clearly when we “first take the log out of our own eye” (v.42). True love must be accompanied with truth.

Of course, this type of love is not normal. It is Christian agape” love[4], which is unconditional, unmerited and undeserving. It is love by decision not deserving merit. The challenge of agape love is striking. It may be easy to show love to those who love in return. But Jesus is saying that agape love is sacrificial, choosing to love even the unlovely. This would have been heard by Jews living under the harsh rule of the Roman Empire.

ð     One of Abraham Lincoln’s biggest political enemies was Edwin Stanton. Stanton, a democrat, was one of Lincoln’s critics not only politically but personally. Stanton called Lincoln a “low, cunning clown”. He criticized Lincoln’s physical appearance and compared the president to a primate. All being said, in 1862 when the cabinet position for Secretary of War came open, Lincoln appointed Edwin Stanton to the post. Everyone tried to dissuade Lincolnbecause he was such a powerful enemy of Lincoln and the Republican administration. And remember, this was during a critical civil war across America. However, Lincoln’s response was classic: “He’s the most qualified man for the job… Do we not destroy our enemies when we make them our friends?” In that moment, Lincolngave us a striking demonstration of what Jesus’ words to love our enemies. Three years later after Lincoln’s death, Stantonproclaimed Lincoln’s greatness: “Now he belongs to the ages.” [5]

ð     Agape love shows you belong to God:

Luke 6:36 “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful” 

John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

– Who is God bringing to your mind that you must extend agape love toward? What steps of obedience do you need to take?


God’s kingdom belongs to those with obedience in view (6:43-49).

Jesus summarizes his teaching on kingdom living with two illustrations.

1)     A tree. Good trees bear good fruit; bad trees bear bad fruit. Likewise, persons who are rooted in faith and obedience to Jesus’ teachings are those who are producing good fruit. Those who are not rooted in Christ are producing that which undesirable.

2)     A house. A person who builds a house with a solid foundation is wise because they are able to endure storms. However, a person who gives little thought to the foundation of his house is unable to sustain when storms come. Christianity is not crisis free but it can be crisis proof if the foundation is on faith and obedience to Jesus. Digging deep is hard work, time consuming and essential for faith and obedience to Jesus.

– Repetition from the mouth (“Lord, Lord”) does not equal reality of the heart (v.46).

— Faith is more than lip service, it must result in a changed life of obedience toward Jesus.
(cf Luke 8:21; 11:28; James 1:21-25)

APPLY/THINK

Donald Trump says that selling real estate is all about the windows. Trump’s building renovations almost always include windows from floor to ceiling. Likewise, our life is all about the windows. There are windows all around us but the one’s we must be drawn to look out are those that reveal the full perspective of all eternity – a God-centered worldview.


[1] Swindoll, Charles. “The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart”, p. 37

[2] Luke shows true disciples can be wealthy: 7:1-10, 8:3, 19:1-10, 23:50-56, Acts 28:30. Further, the fact that Jesus does not qualify the poor as “now”, as he does the other beatitudes (hungry & weeping) shows this is a reference not to a changing economic status but to an established spiritual character trait.

[3] Other examples of worldly rich: Luke 12:13-21; 16:14, 19-31; 18:18-30. Also Isaiah 32:9-14; Amos 6:1; Proverbs 28:6, 11.

[4] Luke’s Gospel shows Jesus’ love and mercy frequently: Luke 1:50, 54, 58, 72, 78 (cf. also 10:37; Ps 145:8–9).

[5] Accessed from Google books, With God All Things Are Possible, by Tim Clark. Pp.107-108.

Some of the inspiration on the topic of living for eternity/forever came from Paul Tripp, Forever.

 

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