If someone said he is blessed, do you think he would use the term blessed for the same reason(s) Jesus did? What about the word woe? Do you know how to tell if a person is in a woeful spiritual condition, according to the Lord Jesus? Just how good is the former and how bad is the latter? Are they related to salvation? Should one greatly rejoice over being blessed and make some drastic vital changes, if woeful, to make things right before God?
Jesus spoke about those things to his disciples, telling them about the blessed and woeful. You might be very surprised by the truth. Listen carefully to what he taught:
● Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20)
Jesus’ disciples had salvation, but were also poor. NOTE: One does not automatically get salvation because he/she is financially poor, but oftentimes because people are poor (or in great need) they will look to God for help and find his great salvation. Furthermore, some Christian people became poor after salvation due to persecution, giving away their riches to the needy, etc. If one is the Lord’s disciple, he is surely blessed, even if he is poor. Scripture says elsewhere:
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5)
The poor there refers to disciples, who are rich in faith and love God. That equals OBEDIENCE. Hence, Scripture does NOT teach one gets salvation just for being financially poor. Neither does it automatically condemn to hell those who are rich materially, because there were godly rich people (like Job, Abraham, etc.). However, the tendency is for the poor to draw near to God due to their lack and for the rich to disastrously ignore or replace their need for God with their money.
The details in James 2:5 about being rich in faith and loving God are vital. One must have a submissive faith in JESUS, if he is going to have salvation. That describes the Lord’s disciples, who first heard these revealing truths.
● Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21)
Crushing hardships and lack can and do come to the godly and committed, as Scripture shows. Sorrow to the point of tears occurs to them because of their tender hearts, and their spiritual eyes are open to the many spiritual dangers and casualties around them. Godly Paul is an example of this:
I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. (Acts 20:19-23)
Paul shed many tears and faced persecution continuously because he was persistently faithful to the Lord Jesus. He was blessed:
● Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22,23)
The Lord’s disciples were poor, would be hungry and weep at times and suffer persecution, as faithful followers of the Lord Jesus. Those things will end one day and their future will drastically change for the better. Theirs is the paradise kingdom of God, where they will laugh, but for now persecution is the norm for the Christian life. It is NOT abnormal, the exception or only for godly people like the Apostle Paul! We know this because ALL Christians live godly and all who live godly will be persecuted:
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Tim 3:12)
What does persecution include? Years ago a man wrote to us and stated he thought no Christian in the USA has been persecuted for his faith. He felt that only happened elsewhere. I shared Luke 6:22,23. That passage expands the concept of persecution to include being hated, excluded, insulted and rejected as evil. Dear reader, if that doesn’t describe treatment, which has befallen you, then you are not living godly, based on 2 Tim. 3:12. You are not truly blessed.
Jesus’s teaching on persecution also includes getting a great reward in heaven. That is so important it should cause one to not only rejoice, but leap for joy. That implies the great importance of spiritual rewards. Hence, as horrible as it is to get persecuted, it yields wonderful spiritual payment for those who continue to follow Jesus!
● But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. (Luke 6:24)
In contrast to the godly blessed are the ungodly woeful. The rich are singled out in v. 24. As one does not automatically get salvation because he/she is financially poor, one is not automatically on the road to hell because he is rich, based on other Scriptures. So who are these rich people? They are contrasted to the [godly] poor. These woeful rich people were not like Job, Abraham, Hezekiah, etc., who were both rich and godly at the same time. Such had money, but the money didn’t have them. They didn’t serve money, trust in it for deliverance, etc. They feared and served God and he was their refuge. That, however, is not the case with the rich in Luke 6:24.
Material wealth can provide many things. That is one of its powerful allurements. Such was also conveyed by Abraham, beyond the grave, to the rich ungodly man, who died and went to fiery torment and agony:
But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” (Luke 16:25)
The ungodly rich are consumed with money, the very thing which enables them to live more of a pain-free natural life. Unfortunately, Jesus is not first in their life. They are rich materially, but poor and dead spiritually! This cursed sin-ridden age is the best they will ever experience, unless they make some serious changes. They are in a woeful spiritual condition, one that should be pitied, as with all on the road to hell.
● Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. (Luke 6:25)
The well fed and the ones who laugh in this unjust system now are just like the rich man who died and went to the tormenting fires of hades:
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. (Luke 16:19-21)
The ungodly eat well in the natural, but not spiritually to the vital point of putting into practice God’s word. They have no hope beyond the grave. Their life can end at any time and their money and power will not do them any good. Mourning and weeping are in their woeful eternal unchanging future:
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Mat 13:41-43)
Hence, the evil better find peace with God while they still can. One day it will be too late.
● Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
In other words, if you are not persecuted (because of godly living) but instead all men speak well of you, then that is a sign you are in great spiritual trouble. You are woeful! The rich, unlike the poor, have many friends, who speak well of them:
The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. (Prov 14:20)
Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friend deserts him. (Prov 19:4)
Usually, the world (and the apostate church of our day) assesses a person much differently from the Lord Jesus. They think being popular and received by all equals success. Hence, being rich, well fed and happy equals a success, while being poor, hungry, weeping and persecuted means one is a failure. That is a darkened inaccurate assessment, being as wrong as possible about spiritual success! Jesus said it is the false prophets (and the ungodly rich) who are popular and praised by all. The true prophets and godly poor are persecuted!
The blessed and woeful are contrasted throughout Jesus’ teaching. Their living experiences here are opposite, as will also be their futures beyond the grave. While the godly need to continue and endure for salvation, the wicked need to repent and follow Jesus.