"Blessed are the Hungry" Sermon / Luke 6:17–26 / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday February 17th 2019: Season of Epiphany / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday February 17th 2019: Season of Epiphany / Luke 6:17–26 "Blessed are the Hungry"
And [Jesus] came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came out from Him and healed them all.
And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you,
for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. A beatitude is a declaration of blessedness. The state of blessedness [you] enjoy results from the fact that God is in communion with [you, with us as Christians] through His son Jesus Christ.” “The most important feature of the beatitudes is that they are Christological [That is they are focused on who Jesus is, who He is for you, who He is for me, for us, for all people]. [This is why we can say] all God’s blessings are found in Christ, and Christ is the source of every blessing.” When you are declared to be blessed you are therefore blessed not by your own actions or merit rather you are declared blessed in Jesus.
Keeping this in mind let’s think of the picture of a table where people gather together to eat. Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.” And then later in the same teaching Jesus says, “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.” This isn’t some kind of communist threat to the rich; it’s a warning to those who desire to go it alone apart from Jesus; who have no desire or appreciation for the blessings of God bestowed on them in Christ Jesus; it’s a warning to those who live for today with false security for tomorrow, the kind of people who mistake a full belly and material blessings today with spiritual fullness and eternal blessings in Christ Jesus.
Jesus highlights this attitude in a parable - a teaching - a little later in the Gospel of Luke, saying “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And [the rich man] said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to [the rich man], ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So [Jesus concludes] is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.”
Is there no hope for the person who has turned their back on the riches of God in Christ Jesus for the transitory, momentary, fleeting riches of this world? Yes, there is hope. Also in the Gospel of St. Luke we hear how Jesus one day “entered Jericho and [as He] was passing through [with His disciples] behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And [this Zacchaeus] was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see [Jesus], for [Jesus] was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So [Zacchaeus] hurried and came down and received [Jesus] joyfully. And when [the people from Jericho who paid their taxes to Zacchaeus and counted Zacchaeus as a lowly wretched traitor and Roman collaborator] saw [Jesus go with Zacchaeus to Zacchaeus’ house], they all grumbled, “[This Jesus] has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus [while they ate together] stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to [Zacchaeus], “Today salvation has come to this house, since [this Zacchaeus] also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” When Zacchaeus was declared to be blessed by Jesus he was blessed not because of his own actions or merit rather Zacchaeus was declared blessed in Jesus by Jesus and on account of Jesus. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.” The opinions of others are invalid to Jesus when He has forgiven you and declared you to be blessed in Him.
Unlike the rich man with his barns in the parable that Jesus told, rich Zacchaeus still took the time to see Jesus, to seek after God. Zacchaeus didn’t respond to news of Jesus’ arrival in Jericho by saying, “What you say? That Jesus fellow everyone is talking about is coming through town? I can’t be bothered, time is money and I have no time for the likes of him. I couldn’t be bothered to break bread with a traveling beggar and his circus side show of ‘miracles.’ Just bring me something to eat; I’ll work through lunch alone, thank you very much!” No Zacchaeus sought Jesus and in Jesus the fleeting consolation of earthly wealth was exchanged for a great and eternal reward in heaven. Zacchaeus who was hungry for Jesus was satisfied. But Zacchaeus didn’t expect that Jesus would receive him, Zacchaeus knew his sins of coveting, and theft, and disregard for neighbour and didn’t believe he was worthy of Jesus’ attention: In the face of Jesus Zacchaeus had actually displayed great humility. Climbing up a tree like a little child required Zacchaeus to set aside his dignity; you wouldn’t expect an old fashioned Wall Street stock broker in a pinstripe three piece suite and wingtip shoes to shimmy up a tree just to get a better look at something. How does Jesus put it? “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like [a] child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Again in the Gospel of St. Luke Jesus tells yet another parable, “when He noticed how [the guests at a Sabbath party that He was attending, that was thrown by a rich and devout man,] chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by [the host of the wedding feast], and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.” and, “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.” As Zacchaeus suffered the worldly indignity of having to climb up and sit in the sycamore tree just to see Jesus, few if any would have imagined that Jesus would single him out to eat with at table that day. When Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today,” Jesus blessed Zacchaeus in the eyes of all who hated Zacchaeus basically saying to him ‘Friend, move up higher,’ and strangely there was no rejoicing among the people of Jericho, instead they grumbled and why? Because they didn’t believe that Zacchaeus had earned or deserved a place at the table with this Jesus. And just to show how sour with sin their hearts had become they also then grumbled against Jesus for eating with Zacchaeus. The whole thing in their eyes then reflected poorly on Jesus too.
The World is like this and this again is what Jesus is getting at with the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Luke. You repent of your sin and receive the forgiveness Jesus won for you at the cross of Good Friday, He says to you ‘Friend, move up higher,’ come eat at My table with Me, be satisfied You are now blessed and the World grumbles and says that man, that woman, that child or teenager, or young adult who ever you are is a sinner, the World wants to never forget your sin because the World doesn’t believe in Jesus and it doesn’t count His forgiveness as real. The World says, “I don’t care what Jesus says you’re no good; he says you’re forgiven, so what, it doesn’t change what you did.” The World resents forgiveness and will tread on you, and try to keep you down, especially if you are one who believes in Jesus and trusts in Jesus’ forgiveness and the blessings you receive from God in Christ Jesus.
As Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
But be careful. Demanding a place at The Table, when you have no repentance in your heart and wanting your sin, whatever it is, to be accommodated, accepted and praised is a dangerous thing. The Lord of The Table may ask, ‘how did you get in here without a robe of Christ’s righteousness?’ Such a one might get away with it today but on The Last Day when the doors swing open to the feast to come, the great and long expected heavenly banquet, on That Day such a usurper, pretender and unrepentant sinner will be bound hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness. Into that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Even today the stewards of the table have the task and responsibility of properly administering the Sacraments in Jesus’ church.
With that in mind, indeed mindful of all of it, today dear Christian you, as one truly forgiven, may be genuinely put upon, and put down by the World in this life, you may in fact be ostracized and shunned by the World for your faith in Jesus, do not despair their attacks, take heart if this is you Jesus invites you to His table, He says to you ‘Friend, move up higher.’ In His Cross and Passion Jesus took the lowest seat in His crucifixion. If all the living from Adam and Eve to the last boy or girl born on The Last Day each had a seat at an earthly table Jesus the very Son of God and the most honoured guest took the very lowest seat at that table so you could have the a heavenly seat of honour in Him, so you would be blessed in Him, so you would be satisfied in Him, so that your tears will be wiped away on The Last Day and you will have laughter in Him, so you will receive the kingdom of God in Him, in Christ Jesus. Today you have a foretaste of that feast to come, a foretaste of the heavenly table. That table is for the repentant soul, for the one who makes a public confession of faith in Christ even if such a confession puts them, puts you, at odds with the World.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.”
But I am not always hungry, I often have no appetite for God’s Word, For Jesus, I sometimes don’t even feel like coming to the table when I am called, when He calls me. I’m more like the rich man with his barns than I am like Zacchaeus. I couldn’t be bothered to “shimmy up a tree” to see Jesus, or even to see Jesus in Holy Communion being distributed. I can’t always muster up sufficient feelings of sorrow in my heart over my sin! My heart is just not in it some days. I’m not necessarily defiant in my sin; I just don’t feel like my repentance is complete. Dear Christian, what did Jesus say to St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” St. John likewise says to you, “for whenever our heart condemns us, [remember] God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.”
Listen again: A beatitude is not a laundry list of attitude adjustments that you must perfectly master in order to receive God’s favour, a beatitude is a declaration of blessedness from the very mouth of Jesus to your ears, to your heart. It is the state of blessedness [you] enjoy results from the fact that God is in communion with [you] through His son Jesus Christ.” Again, “The most important feature of the beatitudes is that they are Christological [That is they are focused on who Jesus is, who He is for you, who He is for me, for us, for all people]. [This is why we can say] all God’s blessings are found in Christ, and Christ is the source of every blessing.”
Your Host at The Table of Salvation, Jesus Christ who in His resurrection from the dead and His Ascension to the right Hand of God His Heavenly Father, this Jesus who the World hates but we His people love, This Jesus who fills all things say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Come sit at My table for I have come to eat with you – I am both Host and Meal, Be no longer hungry, be satisfied, for yours is the kingdom of God now belongs to you in Me. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Luke 1:1-9:50 Concordia Commentary, Arthur A. Just Jr., Concordia Publishing House 1996, Pg 267.
 Ibid, Pg 269.
 Luke 12:16–21
 Luke 19:1–10
 Matthew 18:1–6, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to Him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
 Luke 14:7–11
 Matthew 22:1–14, “And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
 Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
 2 Corinthians 12:9
 1 John 3:20