Poverty Is Not What You Expected

Luke 6:12-19 sets the scene. In verses 12-16 the Lord holds an all-night prayer vigil. He prays in order to identify who among his disciples should be his apostles. An apostle is someone sent with a message. The twelve men listed in verses 14-16 would be the chief messengers of our Lord, and eleven of them would be the leaders of the early church.

Verse 17 tells us that Jesus came down with his apostles to a meeting of “a large crowd of his disciples and a great number of people” from all over the region. They “came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases” (v. 18). Jesus did indeed heal people with unclean spirits, and “power was coming out from him and healing them all” (v. 19). What Luke wants the reader to understand is not the miracle of healing—he only gives us one sentence on that—but Jesus’s teaching, which covers the rest of the chapter. Luke draws our attention to how Jesus’s mind works regarding morality.

Poverty with Jesus Is Blessed (6:20-23)

In verse 20 Jesus speaks to his disciples. “Disciple” means student or follower. The Lord wants them to understand what life is like for those who follow him.

The word blessed, repeated four times in verses 20, 21, and 22, could be translated “happy.” The Lord describes the happy or joyful life from a kingdom perspective. Notice whom he describes as happy: the poor (v. 20), those who are hungry now (v. 21), those who weep now (v. 21), and those who are hated, excluded, insulted, and slandered (v. 22). The poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated. When we follow Jesus and find ourselves in those conditions because we follow him, then we are “blessed” or “happy” from God’s perspective.

Why? Verse 20 concludes, “the kingdom of God is yours.” We may be poor and with no earthly kingdom, but the heavenly kingdom filled with glory belongs to those who follow Jesus. The kingdoms of this earth pass away but the kingdom of God remains forever.

Not only that, but our hunger now will be traded for complete satisfaction. Our weeping now will be traded for laughter. When Matthew records his version of these beatitudes he emphasizes them in a spiritual way. Matthew writes of the “poor in spirit” (5:3) and those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (v. 6; emphasis added). But Luke leaves us with a more literal meaning. Luke gives us a sense of the temporariness of hunger and weeping. They happen “now.” Such temporal poverty, hunger, and thirst will barely be a memory in the kingdom of God. All of our longing, hunger, and poverty will be satiated with laughter and joy in the presence of God.

And when people hate, exclude, insult, and slander the disciple “because of the Son of Man” (v. 22), then our rejoicing reaches its highest level. When we suffer for our Savior’s name we receive a prophet’s treatment and a great reward (v. 23). Jesus does not use adjectives superfluously. How does the Lord of heaven define “great”? How much reward will eternity provide in exchange for earth’s sorrow? It is not what the world teaches us to expect, but these are the truly happy disciples.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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