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The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany – February 13, 2022

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The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany – February 13, 2022

Jesus now takes up the prophecy announced by his mother Mary in her Magnificat (Lk 2:46-55). His words of prophecy come during his iteration of the beatitudes delivered from a “level place.” People often name this Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain,” in contrast to the Matthean “Sermon on the Mount.” In this “Sermon on the Plain,” Jesus delivers “woes” in conjunction with the “blessings.”  Those who receive the “woes” roughly correspond to status quo, the human landscape stood on its head by Mary’s Magnificat. The “woes” are laid upon the rich, the full, the laughing, and the admired.

No one would desire to be shut out of future consolation just because of their current riches. No one would desire to future hunger simply because they are currently well-fed. No one would desire being consigned to mourning and weeping simply because they laugh today. But the hardest of these “woes” for us to understand is the fourth one, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (vs. 26).  We ask of ourselves and others, “Don’t all people desire the respect and admiration of their neighbors?” It seems entirely contradictory for Jesus to warn us off seeking well-wishing from our peers. Yet Jesus doesn’t just pronounce a “woe,” he connects such well-spoken-of people with the false prophets of the past.

Jesus may be thinking of all the people who spoke well of him, who were astounded, astonished, and amazed at the authority of his words. Yet, they wanted him for their benefit, not his. This selfishness could have prompted Jesus to lament not having a place to lay his head (Lk. 9:58), until… until Joseph of Arimathea gave him a tomb. Perhaps Jesus is anticipating the “itching ears” (2 Ti. 4:3) or the “winds of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14) both warned against by Paul. In all likelihood, Jesus simply anticipates his lament over Jerusalem, the city that killed the prophets (Lk. 13:34), and would kill him, too.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, with Jesus himself as its first preacher, tears through the human landscape. The message cannot be changed for the earning of admiration and respect. False prophets do that.

Table Talk: Discuss the way that the “woes” correspond to the “blessings.”
Pray: Woe is me. I’m a sinner. Lord, help me! Amen

Luke 6:17-26 ESV

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

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