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Jesus on the Kingdom of God


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Luke 6 Jesus defines what it means to live in God's Kingdom

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Jesus on the Kingdom of God

  1. 1. Luke 6:20-31 Living in God’s Kingdom
  2. 2. In today’s text… We move from Jesus' teaching concerning the Sabbath Day to other aspects of living under the reign of God. We need to remember that God's people are a people removed from the world's spiritual darkness and placed into the light of the Lord and His Word.
  3. 3. Looking at the event… It seems likely this text was from a different occasion than our last study, since Matthew says Jesus taught on a mountain (5:1) and Luke states He taught on a plain (6:17). Speakers were known to use the same (or some of the same) messages in different venues to different groups.
  4. 4. Immediately preceding this event… Luke makes it clear in verse 19 that Jesus has returned from a solace of prayer and is actively healing the crowds that come to him. He uses this opportunity now to preach and teach about his kingdom.
  5. 5. In His teachings this time… In Luke 6:20-31, Jesus' teaching focuses on blessings and woes as well as the way of love. The first and central message of Jesus was the kingdom of God. Both the Sermon on the Plain and the Sermon on the Mount strongly focus on living today in light of our faith in the coming kingdom.
  6. 6. We should take note that… This text was spoken by the Lord Jesus before a large multitude of people (Luke 6:17). It is an early example of the kind of teaching Jesus proclaimed in His public ministry. It was revolutionary teaching. The Lord wonderfully contrasted the ethics and practices of God's people to the common practices of the world. Living as God's people in an ungodly world is never easy.
  7. 7. We have to be careful… There are teachings about the future: "you shall be filled" (vs. 21) indicates the age to come. There is a contrast to ordinary thinking: wealth and poverty are not nearly as important as faith in the reward of God (cf. vs. 35).
  8. 8. And we need to keep in mind… It is best to read these teachings as requiring growth in the faith. It is not easy to do as Jesus teaches. But if we assume that these are extreme examples, beyond our ability to follow, we will simply disregard them.
  9. 9. Luke 6:20-23 The Blessings Then he looked up at 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 will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
  10. 10. Jesus chose blessing for a reason… When Jesus pronounced His blessings, such as "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20), He was following a common Jewish practice. The word "blessed" first occurs in Scripture when God created animal life: "And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply" (Gen. 1:22). Its next occurrence is in God's blessing at the creation of man (vs. 28), and the third use is God's blessing of the Sabbath (2:3).
  11. 11. Blessing was very common… The Hebrew word for "bless" (barak) occurs 330 times in the Old Testament. It has the idea of bestowing goodness or favor, asking for that to be given to others, or praising God for giving it as when we say grace at the table and ask God to bless the food we are about to eat.
  12. 12. These are specific blessings... The pronouncements of Jesus that begin at this point are commonly known as beatitudes. A beatitude is a blessing given to a specific person or persons. It includes identification of those to be blessed and the nature of the future blessed state.
  13. 13. Don't mistake the idea of blessings... Some people associate blessings with “good luck” or “good fortune,” but this way of thinking is foreign to the Bible. God’s people are blessed because God blesses them in intentional ways, not because of the whims of fortune (compare Job 42:12).
  14. 14. Jesus was teaching in contrast… Luke 6:20, like other beatitudes of Jesus, wraps multiple truths in one. It embodies the reverse of common thinking, an antithesis to the idea that wealth is blessing.
  15. 15. Jesus starts out…. In Jesus’ first beatitude, the recipients of blessing are the poor. Every village in Jesus’ day has poor people—those without adequate food, housing, and/or clothing. Unlike the similar beatitude “blessed are the poor in spirit” in Matthew 5:3, there is no spiritual qualification placed on the poverty of these recipients. Jesus addresses those on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, and His promise to them is priceless: the kingdom of God.
  16. 16. Jesus understands… The sad reality of that present time, when people suffer poverty. It is a statement about the future, since the future time of God's kingdom is what will overtake the present suffering of poverty with happiness greater than any suffering.
  17. 17. Jesus looks ahead… Along with the other sayings, the blessing implies wisdom for disciples of the kingdom, since those who follow after Messiah see here a call to relieve poverty with kingdom love. In the kingdom of God, no one will be poor or lack for anything. (Especially among the disciples)
  18. 18. One day it will all change… In the future time, God will bless the world with abundance. Those who plow for a new crop will meet with people still harvesting the bounty of food (Amos 9:13). God will make "unto all people a feast of fat things" and even "of wines on the lees well refined" (Isa. 25:6). Everyone will have enough, and the fare in the kingdom will be that of a wealthy person's table for all to enjoy.
  19. 19. Jesus anticipated the cost… In the early days of the Jesus movement, Jewish disciples all over the Roman Empire found themselves literally ejected from synagogues. It is important for someone reading Jesus' words today to understand that the persecution He was speaking of was as literal as hunger and poverty are literal.
  20. 20. It was a difference of kingdoms… As people in Jesus' time realized more and more what He was claiming to be, they would find themselves in danger if they believed. Jesus' message was more than ethical teaching. It was also about His identity as the One who came from heaven, the Messiah—and, more than that, the divine Messiah. Believing that message would put people at odds with Jewish authorities in Jerusalem and also with Rome.
  21. 21. Luke 6:24-26 The Woes 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 on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
  22. 22. Blessings have an opposite… The four beatitudes are followed by four corresponding woes. The designation woe comes from the Greek word that begins each one, literally “ouai.” This is an expression of wailing, used in times of extreme distress, or as a warning of pending disaster (Isaiah 5:8; Revelation 8:13). The effect is the opposite of a blessing; it warns of coming ruin.
  23. 23. Caution must be given... If the poor can look to the coming kingdom of God with hope, the rich ought to look ahead with concern. The mere fact of having plenty is not the spiritual danger but rather the tendencies that go along with financial comfort. This teaching has deep roots in the Bible, in Scriptures that should have been well-known in Jesus' time.
  24. 24. We have a history on this… When there are plenty of crops in the field, Moses had warned, do not forget God (Deut. 8:13-14). The psalmist wrote, "If riches increase, set not your heart upon them" (Ps. 62:10). In a parable, Jesus explained the problem with riches: we tend to be poor toward God when we are rich in the possessions that give ease in this life (Luke 12:13-21).
  25. 25. It all comes back to God... As with the previous woe on riches, the problem is the tendency of those whose wants are fully met to forget the Provider. Nearness to God in the heart is so valuable that some physical hunger is better than spiritual emptiness. In the same way, those who engage in superficial laughter (or possibly laugh at the expense of others) will weep for eternity.
  26. 26. Nothing has changed... The poor and hungry can find blessing in the kingdom, while the rich and full should remember God and accept greater responsibility. Poverty and hunger characterize the status of much of the world’s population. One research institute reported at the end of 2011 that nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night. The grim statistics of death from malnutrition seem to assault us at every turn.
  27. 27. Keeping each other in line... Society's esteem is not really a worthy goal to aim for. When pride of position dominates, we flatter and compromise. To keep our advantage, we politic and selfpromote. It is all emptiness and folly. Flattery is putting out a trap for others (Prov. 29:5). A gentle rebuke in love does more for a friend (28:23).
  28. 28. Be careful with adoration... Jesus wanted to ensure that his disciples should not feel blessed when they are praised in public; they are to remember that such acclaim also was heaped on the false prophets in Israel’s history (Jeremiah 14:13; Micah 2:11). Just as the fourth beatitude observes that the true prophets were reviled, so also the false prophets were welcomed, because they said what the people wanted to hear (Jeremiah 5:31).
  29. 29. Luke 6:27-31 Living in Love But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
  30. 30. Think again… It is a mistake to say that Jesus' teaching here is the complete opposite of Jewish teaching. Rather, it is the sharpest and furthest-reaching statement of a principle. It is not enough, Jesus said, to refrain from vengeance. The highest calling is to act in kindness toward our haters. Jesus' command to love our enemies means action, not emotion. This can be seen in the second half of Luke 6:27: "do good to them which hate you."
  31. 31. Jesus follows with real-life illustrations…. Slapping can be an act of violence, but in Jesus’ world it is an insult. When we are insulted for our allegiance to Jesus, we should not retaliate in kind. When someone steals our cloak (outer garment), the robber should also be allowed to have our coat (inner garment). We are to exhibit generous behavior, always ready to give to others without expecting repayment.
  32. 32. The world is full of insults and curses. Jesus' way is not to return them but to find a way to speak kindness in return for curse. If we do this insincerely, people usually see through our hypocrisy. But if we grow nearer to God so that we love people as He does, we can truly wish the best for people who are rude and unkind.
  33. 33. Those who harm others oppose God's kingdom. If we truly love as God does and bring good into relationships—when we show kindness to the hateful—there is a possibility of repentance. There is hope that enemies will become friends. Our good deed may counteract evil.
  34. 34. God had taught Israel long before, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev. 19:18). HiIlel the Great, the rabbi who died about forty years before the ministry of Jesus, famously interpreted this to mean we should not do to others what we do not want done to us. Jesus viewed it from the positive side: to love as we love ourselves means to do for others what we would want done for us.
  36. 36. At first glance… The demands laid upon a disciple of Christ seem overwhelming, even impossible to obey. As a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so the place to begin with Jesus' teachings is with one imperative. Start by devoting thought and prayer to it, and then do it. Then do the same for the next. You will not be perfect, but change can and will occur. And people will notice.
  37. 37. First, The blessed life is dependent on God, not things. In typical reverse fashion, Jesus saw the poor as blessed and the rich as cursed. He was referring to a person made humble by a poverty of spirit (Luke 6:20) versus a person who is rich with pride (vs. 24).
  38. 38. Second, The blessed life is hungry for God and not well-fed on self. Jesus saw the blessed life as being characterized by hunger—not physical hunger but spiritual hunger for God (Luke 6:21).
  39. 39. Third, The blessed life is characterized by weeping, not laughing. The person who is really blessed is weeping because of a brokenhearted shame for his own sinful state.
  40. 40. Fourth, The blessed life is a despised life. To be blessed by God means one will be despised by the world (Luke 6:23).
  41. 41. Whether in small ways or in big ones… When we love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us (Luke 6:27-28), God is pleased and honored. Twice in the same chapter God assures us, "Your reward shall be great" (vs. 35; cf. vs. 23).
  42. 42. So loving our enemies is not… Primarily designed to offer a pragmatic solution for our troubled relationships, although it may be helpful in that regard. It is meant to give evidence of the presence of God in our lives and to advance His name and kingdom. We are to deal with others as God has dealt with us—in love and mercy. It is vital that we live differently as God's people in the world. This is what testifies of the reign and kingdom of God in the midst of the world.
  43. 43. LESSONS Trusting in wealth, pleasure, or fame brings only spiritual death (vss. 24-26). Recognizing spiritual poverty is a must in order to experience God's eternal riches in Christ (Luke 6:20). Such true sorrow can lead to God's joy (cf. II Cor. 7:10).
  44. 44. LESSONS God rewards suffering for Him, bringing His joy to those afflicted (Luke 6:22-23). Enjoy such living for the Lord in His power (vs. 31).