A few days ago, I started reading from the Gospel of Luke a chapter a day with an interest to simply to better understand Jesus and what was important to him based on the words he spoke. Today I read chapter six of Luke which includes his long discourse which we call the beatitudes. He had a huge “throng” of people from all over the region and beyond along with disciples and his apostles. I’m imagining thousands of people who were seeking a healing or a cure. Jesus had them in the palm of his hand given that all who desperately sought a healing, or a cure received exactly that.
This is like his first opportunity to really give them what they needed to hear from him, the Son of God. He could proclaim what might be the most important thing he would have to say before he left them, and they all dispersed back to their hometowns to live out their lives. Here’s what I found interesting. Jesus never mentions anything about himself once. Not a word about who he is or from whence he came for what reason he was with them. He doesn’t once mention anything about “salvation” or “receiving him” to be saved. His opening states that the poor are blessed and thus the “kingdom of God” is theirs.
What he does is speak directly to them about, if I might summarize in my own words (you can read for yourself to measure up what I say), is about living a life of humility, simplicity and goodness. Interesting, huh? He is speaking to those who are poor, possibly disenfranchised and certainly troubled. But he blesses them in their condition and exhorts them to be givers and not takers. He’s not being a fundamentalist preacher threatening them to shape up or they’ll go to hell. No, he is showing them the way of a true life. He is showing them the way having started with his willingness to heal and cure them. He must be from God. His discourse includes numerous examples of how to live, love and truly be saved from a life of greed, pride, envy, and hatred.
Jesus, in this moment...in this opportunity...is most concerned about the life we have now and how we live it. Not for sake of heaven or hell but that we might be healed in our spirit from that which makes our soul ill. He cares about this life now. You’d think that early on in his ministry, with such a captive audience, he would have warned them of the pending doom of hell unless they repented of their sins. You know, give them the gospel. But no, he allows them to walk away with an exhortation on how to live a good life now. Interesting. That’s all I’m saying.