Today’s Scripture is a whopper. It happens in a physical location that Luke describes as “level ground,” but it also happens at a spiritual “level ground” as well. When you read this, expect to be grounded.
And possibly leveled.
Luke is very transparent about the audience: they came to hear Jesus because they needed healing. They came to level ground to be healed from all their diseases. Some had unclean spirits. Some were bothered. They had learned about his power, and everyone wanted to touch him.
Are you sick in spirit?
Are you bothered by life?
Do you need to be healed?
Proceed with caution.
Luke 6 (Common English Bible)
17 Jesus came down from the mountain with them and stood on a large area of level ground. A great company of his disciples and a huge crowd of people from all around Judea and Jerusalem and the area around Tyre and Sidon joined him there. 18 They came to hear him and to be healed from their diseases, and those bothered by unclean spirits were healed. 19 The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone.
20 Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said:
“Happy are you who are poor,
because God’s kingdom is yours.
21 Happy are you who hunger now,
because you will be satisfied.
Happy are you who weep now,
because you will laugh.
So far, so good. This twist on what we normally think of happiness fits into Jesus’ style of teaching. Happy=poor, happy=hungry, happy=weeping … this all equates in the system I call “Jesus math.” Jesus doesn’t do math like we do. He has his own system of equations.
Then it gets more extreme.
22 Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One. 23 Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.
To define happiness THIS way requires the mind of the divine. But do you see what Jesus is getting at here? Happiness means being completely, wholly, and entirely SOLD OUT to Jesus and his cross. That indeed is cause to rejoice, even in the midst of the world’s condemnation.
Then it gets more extreme.
24 But how terrible for you who are rich,
because you have already received your comfort.
25 How terrible for you who have plenty now,
because you will be hungry.
How terrible for you who laugh now,
because you will mourn and weep.
26 How terrible for you when all speak well of you.
Their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.
Jesus math comes in again. Terrible=rich. Terrible=plentiful. Terrible=laughing. Terrible=praise from the world.
What can we learn from this today? I think it calls us to take a hard look at our own math. If you live your life on the “plus side” of things, perhaps it is time to minus out some of your excess and reach out to others. When we share from our plenty … our resources, our lives, our egos, and our hearts … that is when our math shifts.
What can you do today to bring joy to someone? How can you build up someone’s situation and diminish your own in the cause of the kingdom? Where can you impact the world for something outside of yourself?
And if you find yourself on the “minus side” of things, where can you go to reach out for help?
We are all sick in one way or another, but when we touch Jesus’ power, his healing flows to us and through us. That, my friends, is the math of equality.
Jesus calls us all to level the ground around us. Where do you fit into the equasion?