Sharp Contrasts

“Surely your reward is great in heaven.” Luke 6:23

The four lessons for today, including the psalm, present strikingly sharp contrasts. In the first lesson, there is a contrast between “mortals who make flesh their strength” and therefore dwell in a “salt land,” and “those who trust in the Lord” and are like a tree that remains green even in drought. The psalm presents the same contrast.

In the epistle, the contrast is between being destined for eternal life made possible by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and being “of all people most to be pitied” if Jesus is not raised from the dead. In the gospel, the contrast is between blessings pronounced upon those who suffer for various reasons, and woes pronounced upon those whose satisfaction is in the things of this world.

The contrasts in these lessons are far sharper than most people are likely ever to experience. Most of the time, our lives are a blend of goodness and sinfulness, sickness and health, happiness and sorrow, satisfaction and want. The great gulf between the extremes in these lessons teaches the greater truth — that at the end, there shall be no blend of good and evil, but ultimate, pure goodness or complete corruption. All paths before us, and all possible choices we can make, lead to one or the other of these ends.

The key to understand and making right decisions is provided in the “blessings” Jesus pronounces: Those who are blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping, the hated, and the excluded — namely those who, for whatever reason, do not see the good things of this world as their final end. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that the despised and suffering are particularly loved by him.

Those who are rich in the things of this world often have to work a little harder to recognize that these things can beguile, but can never truly satisfy.

Look It Up

Compare Luke’s version of the Beatitudes (6:20-23) with Matthew’s longer version (5:3-12). What are the differences?

Think About It

Recall a situation in which you lost something of great value. Was there a blessing in its loss? How did the loss affect your relationship with God?


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