Blessed are the poor (Lk 6:20-6:20)

“Then Jesus

Looked up

At his disciples.

He said.

‘Blessed are you

Who are poor!

Yours is

The kingdom of God.”

 

Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Luke said that Jesus looked up at his disciples (Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  He said (ἔλεγεν) that the poor are blessed or happy (Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί), using the second person plural.  Their reward would be the kingdom of God (ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This sermon on the plain is somewhat similar to the sermon on the mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7.  Most people speak about the 8 beatitudes of Jesus on the mountain, since they feature the key points of Jesus’ preaching that was founded on the Hebrew Scriptures.  What does “blessed (Μακάριοι)” mean?  This Greek word Μακάριοι appeared over 68 times in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, especially in the Psalms.  God will bless these people, so that they will be the fortunate ones, the happy ones, the wise ones.  There are echoes of Psalm 32, where the happy and blessed ones are those who have had their sins forgiven, since they have no deceit in their hearts.  The blessed people are the poor, the hungry, the mourners, and those being persecuted.  Number one is the poor.  However, right off the bat, there is a difference with Matthew. chapter 5:3, who used the term the “poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι).”  What did Matthew mean by this “poor in spirit” or spiritual poverty?  There is a whole Judaic tradition about the oppressed poor and the humble of the land, as in the prophets Isaiah, chapter 61:1 and 66:2, and Zephaniah, chapter 2:3, but that was not spiritual poverty.  Perhaps, this was more like the lack of concern for material things, whether you are actually poor or not.  For Luke, it was black or white, poor or not.  The 2nd major difference was the reward.  Matthew talked about what they would possess, the kingdom of the heavens (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), while Luke said it was the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ), plain and simple.

Advertisements

Different genealogies

Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke listed the family tree of Jesus. However, only David and Joseph were on both lists. These genealogies were theological statements with different parent genealogies and different audiences. Matthew, as just shown, went from Abraham to Jesus, so that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish messianic expectations. The theme of David was important, since Joseph was called the son of David. Matthew explained that there were 3 sections of 14 generations. One section went from the call of Abraham to the accession of David as king. The second grouping went from David to the Babylonian exile. The final section went from the Exile to the coming of the Messiah. Matthew also has the Magi story, where Herod’s appearance has echoes of the Old Testament with various references to Old Testament prophecies. The Gospel of Luke genealogy, on the hand, went from Jesus to Adam to God. Luke’s view was more universal. Jesus could trace his roots back to God. Luke, who had the best Greek, was writing for the gentiles of the Pauline Churches. The Son of God was a more meaningful term. Luke spoke of the Son of Adam, the second Adam, a theme that Paul also used. Jesus had both divine and human origins. This was not difficult for Greeks, since their gods were always having relations with humans in their mythical stories. Thus, there are two different genealogies for Joseph, with only one common person, David.

Different Gospel Beginnings

Do you know how many of the gospels contain the Christmas story?  The answer is that only two, since only Matthew and Luke relate the birth of Jesus.  The other two gospels, Mark, the earliest, and John, the latest, start with the Baptism of Jesus.  The Gospel of Mark is the shortest and the most direct gospel story, as it starts with the public life of Jesus.  The Gospel of John is more spiritual and opens with the beautiful theological prologue about the “Word” (Λόγος) with echoes of the Genesis story of creation.

Thanksgiving prayer (Isa 25:1-25:5)

“O Yahweh!

You are my God!

I will exalt you!

I will praise your name!

You have done wonderful things,

Plans formed of old,

Faithful and sure.

You have made the city a heap.

The fortified city has become a ruin.

The palace of aliens

Is a city no more.

It will never be rebuilt.

Therefore strong people

Will glorify you.

Cities of ruthless nations

Will fear you.

You have been a refuge

To the poor,

To the needy in their distress.

You have been a shelter

From the rainstorm.

You have been a shade

From the heat.

The blast of the ruthless was

Like a winter rainstorm.

The noise of aliens was

Like heat in a dry place.

You subdued the heat

With the shade of clouds.                                                        

The song of the ruthless was stilled.”

Isaiah gives thanks and praise to Yahweh because he has done wonderful faithful and sure things from of old as there are echoes of the acrostic Psalm 145. Then there is a turn to an unnamed ruined fortified city, where the palace of the aliens or foreigners was destroyed, never to be rebuilt again. There is no indication where this city was. Some people will glorify Yahweh, while other ruthless people will fear him. Yahweh has been a refuge to the poor and the needy in their time of distress. Yahweh was their shelter against the ruthless winter rainstorm and a shade in the hot sunny days against the noise of the aliens or foreigners. Yahweh was able to subdue the heat with his shady clouds. He was able to still the song of the ruthless. Thus Yahweh was their protector against the rain and the heat of ruthless people.