Fortunate are you, who weep now, for you will laugh.
Fortunate are you, when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember, that is how the ancestors of the people treated the prophets.
But alas for you, who have wealth,
for you have been comforted now.
Alas for you, who are full, for you will go hungry.
Alas for you, who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Alas for you, when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of the people treated the false prophets.
In Matthew‘s account of the beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12), Jesus sees the crowd and goes up to the mountainside. In Luke, Jesus comes down and stands on level ground with the people. In Matthew, Jesus “opens his mouth“ and addresses the whole people generally. In Luke, Jesus “lifts up his eyes“ and addresses the disciples. Indeed, it is a whole-body communication of great significance, which merges the verbal and the nonverbal.
In Luke, the pronouncement of woes follows the beatitudes immediately and is addressed to the disciples as well. They would be blessed or condemned depending on how they choose to live their discipleship. If the followers of Christ choose to be poor and hungry, share in the tears of people, and are so committed to Christ‘s Gospel that the world hates them, they are indeed blessed. However, if they seek after wealth, privileges, comforts, worldly pleasures, and good name and fame, they are no better than false prophets and have no share in Christ‘s glory.
When I look at my life, what do I find awaiting me: the beatitudes or the woes?