Luke 6:17-46: Introduction
In these 29 verses, Luke tells of teachings that are directly parallel to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Is Luke reporting the same occasion? Are they still on a mountain? Scholars argue over these and other questions, and in all of these years, they haven’t settled the issues, so let’s not worry too much about them here.
As I wrote back when we covered Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount may very well be a summary of Jesus’ Kingdom teachings, a compilation of His major themes about what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom, rather than a transcript of one particular event. I would suggest that the same is likely the case with Luke’s account in chapter six. Either way, both are content rich to say the least.
Notice that the scene begins with Jesus, who has been up on a mountain in prayer, coming down “with them” (the Twelve) to a level place where lots of people are gathered to hear His teaching. There is “a large crowd of His disciples” as well as many others there. Clearly at this point Jesus had a great many “disciples” (followers) in addition to the Twelve, and had also created a great deal of interest among others who weren’t yet “disciples”.
Like in Matthew 5, Luke begins the presentation with a list of beatitudes which clearly parallel some of those in Matthew, but Luke only lists four, and with each one, Luke adds a “woe” to match up with them, which is a very interesting distinction between the approaches of the two men. When we studied Matthew, I wrote about each beatitude separately, and here, I propose to do so again, only this time, I’ll do so alongside its corresponding woe so we can get the clear picture of each one.
One thing you will notice as we continue through these is that Luke seems to have a bias for the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful and the persecuted. In this, he almost makes it sound as though one must be all of these things in order to enter the Kingdom, and as his narrative continues, we will see two instances where Jesus tells a rich person to liquidate their portfolios. Before we draw this conclusion however, we need to remind ourselves of who He was addressing. Notice the full range and extent of the crowd that Luke mentions in 6:17-19, and then note how these beatitudes begin: “Looking at the disciples, he said” (6:20).
As we’ve already seen, these are people who have already left everything behind; homes, families, jobs, businesses… Thus it seems, at least to me, more likely that Jesus is trying to encourage them, than stating strict legal requirements for discipleship.
In any case, we are ready to begin our look at His words, and we’ll get started next time; see you then!