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Reversing the Order

February 25, 2019

Jesus Sermon_Beatitudes_Tissot 1896

Scripture Luke 6:27-38

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Luke 6:37-38 NRSV

The scripture lesson takes up the “Beatitudes,” a summary of ways to live, but having a deeper meaning because we have to change our thinking and behavior to make the changes happen. In this message from Christ, we learn that the weight of grace and mercy are much greater, deeper, and far more powerful than a list to guide our living. This is why the remainder of the scripture lesson is so important. All of these commands, even demands, from Jesus are directed at transforming who we are, adjusting or recreating our value system, refocusing our attention and priorities, and transforming us from members of the crowd into active and earnest disciples of Jesus Christ.

Later, Jesus will say this same thing more literally: that the last will be first and the first will be last (Matt. 20:16). We hear the groundwork for that pronouncement in our scripture today: If you hunger today, you will feast at God’s heavenly banquet. If you are full and have surplus food now, enjoy it; because, you will be judged on the choices of your living. If you are hated and despised now, you will be praised by God and placed above those who persecute you. Clearly, Jesus was going against the rules of the day. He was reversing the order of life and society. As we learn later in the gospel story, this really was a “big thing”: So much so, that he was arrested and cruelly executed.

In these verses, Jesus wants to shake up the system and to correct some oppressive and hurtful practices that were commonplace at the time. Jesus is not wasting time getting this message “out there.” Today, these words are probably familiar. But, we must understand that keeping these directions as “rules of living” will not pave our way into heaven. Instead, they are commands for us to transform our thinking and our living: to become disciples of Jesus Christ! Knowing this, where are you and I in this upside-down condition that Jesus brought to the world?

How do you and I live into these commands to love as we would, and should, be loved?

Stan Reid

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