25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
1901 ASV Translation:
25 Woe unto you, ye that are full now! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you, ye that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
I. The Problem(s) With "Laughing".
A. There are only six references to "laughter" in the New Testament under the translation "laugh". Five of the six are seriously negative in that they refer to people laughing at the godly. The only "positive" use is the one in our text (Luke 6:21) and it refers to the godly having the last laugh. The overall implication of "laughter" is that it is directed toward those who are seen by the ones laughing to be worthy of their humiliation. In other words, humiliation is the intent of most, if not all, of the laughter to which the New Testament points. It is an expression of ridicule because of what is perceived to be foolishness.
B. The implication of Jesus' "Woe" upon those who are laughing is that they are taking delight in having their godly opponents look foolish and worthy of the trials/afflictions that are oppressing them.
C. The implication of the implication is this: Jesus did not present life in this world by those who would follow Him faithfully as an experience of significant "success" in the eyes of the enemies of the Cross. There are times, in the cycles of human experience, when true disciples of Jesus will have good experiences (Acts 9:31) in their context of faithfulness. But the predominant picture is that of a serious warfare and a major motif of Scripture is not only conflict, but the appearance of loss in that conflict. A major thesis of the Bible is that life comes out of death, not out of bypassing it. It is no accident that the witnesses of Laodicea (Revelation 3) and Smyrna (Revelation 2) are that those who have a life of ease in the context of their "Christian lives" are spiritually corrupted by that ease and those who have a life of significant trouble as Christians are spiritually strengthened by those troubles. It must be understood, however, from the letters sent to those churches by Jesus that there does not have to be a link between ease and spiritual corruption, nor is the link between affliction and spiritual health automatic. The call to repentance by Jesus for the Laodiceans and the words of encouragement by Jesus to the Smyrnians indicate that there is Life in any setting if the setting is not given the privilege of determining what Life is.