Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 6 Study Notes
Luke 6:20 (2)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 2 October 7, 2007 Lincolnton, NC
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
1901 ASV Translation:
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
I. Luke's References to "the Poor".
A. According to 4:18, Jesus' commission from the Father was to preach the Gospel to the poor. This is reinforced by 7:22 where Jesus tells the disciples of John that "the poor" have the Gospel preached to them.
B. In 14:13 Jesus exhorted those who "make a feast" to invite "the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind...". This same thesis continues in 14:21.
C. In 16:20 there is a "poor" man who is named Lazarus who died and went to Abraham's bosom while his "rich" neighbor went to Hell.
D. In 18:22 Jesus told the rich man to distribute his wealth to the poor and he would have treasure in heaven.
E. In 19:8 Zacchaeus promised half of his wealth to the poor.
F. In 21:3 Jesus said of a "poor" widow that she had given more than all the rich.
II. What Constitutes "Poverty"?
A. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that "poverty" means to have no resources for living so that one must "beg" because one has no way of making provision for his/her own life (Vol. VI, p. 886). One is not "poor" who has such limited resources as to have to be "frugal"; one is poor when one has no resources.
B. "Poverty" is not a desired condition in which to be. In all the texts, poverty is to be pitied. Even the fact that the Gospel is deliberately aimed at "the poor" indicates that this "condition" needs some "good news". The word "poverty" actually arose from a verb that meant "to be fearful". The implication is that one is "poor" who has no hope of a good outcome of some inevitable event. Thus, poverty of spirit precedes the poverty of the soul. Because the spirit cannot do anything to stave off the inevitable disaster, the soul is in terror (poverty of soul). It is those who see themselves as completely incapable who need a promise from someone who is capable.
III. What Is the "Blessedness" of the "Poor"?
A. Jesus said "...because the Kingdom of the God is yours." Since it is, in the terminology, clearly God's Kingdom, in what sense is it "yours"? The designation, "yours", in the New Testament does not carry a sense of "exclusive ownership". In John 8:17 Jesus called God's Law, "your law". The "your" designation seems to indicate that the thing that is "yours" is something that you have embraced as a fundamental aspect of your makeup. In other words, when God's Law has become "your" Law, that means that you have embraced His words as your way of looking at things. If this is the way it is, when God's Kingdom is said to be "your" Kingdom, that means that you are going to get to participate in it because you have embraced it in its identity and character.
B. Clearly, being able to participate in God's Kingdom is the ultimate methodologicalblessedness. The ultimate blessedness is the Joy of the Life of God. The means to that end are many; being able to be in, and take part in, His Kingdom is one of those means.
C. It is also, however, clear that being "blessed" does not do much of anything about the external and inconsequential circumstances of one's life in time. Being an inevitable participant in the Kingdom of God in its future character does not mean being able to participate in that future character now except by faith ... i.e., as one trusts in the God of that future state, his temporal state of body, soul, and spirit is directly affected tothedegreethatattitudeaffectscircumstances. If my circumstances are now typically desireable, but my attitude is one of strong faith, my experience within my circumstances is determined, not by those circumstances, but by that faith.
IV. How Does the "Blessedness" of the "Poor" Apply to Americans?
A. Jesus pointedly said that it was more difficult for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:25). How is this true?
1. If "rich" people do enter the Kingdom of God, it must be that "riches" are not the bottom line.
2. But if there is another "bottom line", for what cause does Jesus use the descriptive term "rich"?
B. What does it mean that entering the Kingdom is extraordinarily difficult for the rich in the richest country in the history of the world?
C. What is the connection between riches and rejection from the Kingdom? How was it that Zacchaeus (an obviously wealthy man) was "saved" (Luke 19:9)?
D. Clearly, just being wealthy does not automatically keep a person from the Kingdom, but, just as clearly, there is a real connection between wealth and rejection from the Kingdom. What is that connection? In a word: the sense of self-sufficiency.