Today’s New Testament reading includes Luke’s account of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount that Matthew records in Matthew 5:1 – 12.  It was about two weeks ago that my wife Kathy and I along with our tour group had the privilege to visit the traditional site overlooking the Sea of Galilee where Jesus delivered this sermon. Today, there is a Roman Catholic Chapel and lovely gardens on the site. In the fourth century, a Byzantine church was built just below the current site. We only had an hour or so to visit the site, but it was certainly enough to imagine Jesus and his disciples there surrounded by crowds of people who, as Luke describes “sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.” (Luke 6:19)

In reading his words in 6:20 – 26, I am again struck by how shocking his teaching must have been to his audience then. He blessed those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated and excluded. And then he gave a warning to those who are rich, full now, laughing now, and well-spoken of and popular. Even today it is contrary to conventional wisdom.  To most of his audience that day, Jesus’ words must have been a source of great comfort!

How are we to receive these words? Are they words of comfort or words of warning to us? Might they be both? My prayer today is that our hearts would be open to receive Jesus’ teaching as the Holy Spirit would lead, as words of comfort and/or words of warning.

by Paul Schmidt, Elder

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