Jesus turns the world upside-down by refuting the common wisdom of His day regarding the wealthy. Jewish common wisdom said that wealth and the accompanying admiration of others distinguishes those blessed by God. Life, for them, consists of the abundance of their possessions. They build their kingdoms here on earth.
Jesus constantly reminds His disciples that God's thoughts and ways are not man's thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). His contrasts in today's passage are a stark reminder of His value system:
- Blessed are the poor; woe are the rich
- Blessed are you who hunger now; woe to you who are well-fed now
- Blessed are you weep now; woe to you who laugh now
- Blessed are you when men hate and exclude you; woe to you when all men speak well of you
Rich young rulers and proud Pharisees went away empty and rebuked while outcasts and prostitutes walk away forgiven and cleansed. Jesus Himself says, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26) Jesus' own life is a living testimony of this truth. He is the poor, the outcast, the rejected, and despised--but honored and exalted by the Father.
Wealth and status in the here and now may impress others but God measures a man, not by the amount of money in his pocket, bank account or position in life, but by the position of his heart and likeness to Himself, "Then your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (emphasis added). True wealth, then, is measured by Christ being formed in you. Rejection, mistreatment, poverty, hunger, and loss offer opportunities to appropriate the very life of Christ. Will I allow Him to be formed in me? That is wealth!
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- How does Jesus' list of those who are blessed differ from that of the world's?
- What should predominately characterize Christ's followers?
- How does God's treatment differ from man's treatment of those who are ungrateful and wicked?
- Why is judging others so wrong and forgiveness so important?
- How does Jesus illustrate the difference between those who follow Him and those who seek to establish their own righteousness?
- Why does the centurion send others to ask Jesus to heal his critically ill servant?
- What does the centurion understand about Jesus and why does he receive his request?
- What is the origin of real righteousness?
- Why does Jesus have compassion on the woman?
- What does this miracle teach you about Jesus' view of women?
- As a result of this miracle what do the people understand about God?
Ask the Lord to alter your perspective and values to match His perspective and values.