“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20b)
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort. (Luke 6:24)
I should begin by mentioning that the word “blessed” means fortunate or joyous, while the word “woe” is used to indicate an approaching disaster in Scripture. Thus in this paradox we can see that the poor who follow Christ are fortunate, joyous, which the rich face disaster.
Looking more closely, we can see the reason for both of these: The poor Luke is speaking of, and remember in 6:20a He is addressing “disciples”, will receive the Kingdom of God, so their eternal future is assured. Yet even now, they receive the blessings of the fullness of Christ in this life; joyous indeed!
The rich, those who have so much, who are not His disciple; what of them?
They will have a problem when the Kingdom comes, for they have placed their hope in their wealth. They might find comfort in the present, but when the time comes, what will their money buy them?
Not a thing.
Is this to say that nobody of means can be saved?
I highly doubt it, even though some will assert that it does. Rather it seems to me that Jesus is continuing here the long pattern of Jewish wisdom which states a general principle or value. In this case, I think we all know that very rich people often have a hard time coming to Christ, simply because they are so comfortable with their own status quo. While this may be true generally, it is not an absolute as we also know. While we’re at it, being poor doesn’t mean a person is interested in giving their life to Christ, even though a higher percentage of the poor might lean that way than with the rich. The real principle in all of this is that we cannot depend upon earthly wealth to secure our future, particularly our eternal future, and it is better to be poor now and inherit eternity, than to be rich now and miss out.