Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-26)

Sermon on the Plain

20 And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.

21 Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.  Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.

22 Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.

23 Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.

24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.

26 Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.


At times, reading the scriptures can be a little puzzling and knock us off balance.  If I’ve been living a good Christian life it can be very confusing to me when I hear something like “woe to you who are rich …” or “woe to you who are filled …” or especially “woe to you when all speak well of you …”.  What can this mean?  Have I been kidding myself about living a life in fidelity with Christ?  Are these woes going to befall me until I’m poor, hungry, and everyone speaks evil of me all the time?  Certainly we know that a Christian life has no foundation in greed or gluttony but can’t there be an in-between?

As we ponder questions like this we have to keep something very important in mind.  When Jesus is speaking we need to make sure we know who His audience is.  In this case he is speaking to a great multitude composed of Jews and Gentiles.  As we know, the first century Jew believed in one God, the same God we believe in, whereas the first century Gentile was a polytheist (believing in many gods).   Although they were worlds apart in their basic theologies, they had one concept in common.  Specifically, they thought that if you were good to God, then he was good to you – you had plenty of money and such.  Similarly, if things were not going well in your life, then it was because you weren’t very godly.

So, it’s important to remember that during this sermon Jesus was talking to non-Christians.  One of the first things He has to communicate is that those people who are poor and hungry are not in that condition because they or ungodly, or because God doesn’t favor them.  Additionally, He needs to let them know that the ancient prophets, the ones that were loved by the masses, made their living by telling people what they wanted to hear.  Contrarily, you will know you’re professing Christ’s message if your contemporaries insult you and hate you.

So this sermon begins with what seems to be a litany of contradictions.  But these contradictions help to dispel some first-century commonly held misconceptions about God and about man’s relationship to Him.

When we look at this again in the Gospel according to Matthew, we’ll take a closer look at what each of the beatitudes (blessed are you) might mean.


Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Leave a Reply