Title: The Sermon on the Mount part 2
Scriptures to Read: Read Luke 6:24-26
The Characteristics of Those Who Fail
Luke’s account gives the contrasting characteristics of those who fail to attain the true righteousness of the Law. In place of blessings they will have woes. He points out that they are characterized by four things:
1. Woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full (v24) – Instead of being poor in spirit they consider themselves to be rich. In Revelation 3:17-18 Jesus says to the church in Laodicea: ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see’. Although the Laodiceans considered themselves to be rich they lacked righteousness as represented by the white garments which they were advised to buy. In their pride the Pharisees also consider themselves to be rich in righteousness and in need of nothing spiritually. They also seek and obtain material wealth, but fail to lay up for themselves treasure in heaven. Jesus says they are receiving their comfort in full, in other words they are receiving their reward in this age and will not receive comfort in the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry (v25a) – In contrast with the righteous who hunger and thirst after righteousness the Pharisees consider themselves to be righteous and therefore do not hunger and thirst for righteousness. And in contrast with those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who will be satisfied in the Kingdom of Heaven, those who are well fed now will be hungry.
3. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep (v25b) – In contrast with those who mourn their sinfulness now and find comfort in the Kingdom of Heaven, those who do not have true righteousness laugh now and will weep and mourn when they find themselves excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. We see this illustrated later in the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:11-13 where there was a man who was not dressed in wedding clothes. The wedding clothes represent true righteousness. And the unrighteous man is thrown into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
4. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way (v 26) – Here is a direct contrast with the righteous who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 6:11-12). The righteous are persecuted in the same way as the prophets who were before them. The unrighteous on the other hand have a good reputation with all men. Their fathers, while persecuting the true prophets, used to speak well of the false prophets. Instead of having the blessing of the Kingdom of Heaven these ones have woe because they will not see the Kingdom.
So in Luke’s account Jesus provides some characteristics of those who fail to attain the righteousness of the Law, and he indicates that they will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.