Matthew’s gospel contains the famous “Sermon on the Mount”. For the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany (17 February 2019), Rev. Geoff McKee has Luke’s parallel text (which is shorter and less well-known), The Sermon on the Plain. In its directness of language, it’s a much more uncomfortable read than Matthew’s account. As Geoff explains, it teaches us about the importance of perspective in faithful Christian living. It teaches about the importance of taking seriously the call to live simply. How we identify the “greatest” moments in our lives can reveal a lot about how well we are keeping a Christian perspective on things.
Luke 6:17-26 (New International Version)
Blessings and Woes
17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Hugh Latimer once preached before King Henry VIII.
Henry was greatly displeased by the boldness in the sermon and ordered Latimer to preach again on the following Sunday and apologise for the offence he had given.
The next Sunday, after reading his text, he thus began his sermon: “Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou are this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the king’s most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life, if thou offendest. Therefore, take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease. But then consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know from whence thou comest – upon Whose message thou are sent? Even by the great and mighty God, Who is all-present and Who beholdeth all thy ways and Who is able to cast thy soul into hell! Therefore, take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully.”
He then preached the same sermon he had preached the preceding Sunday – and with considerably more energy. [Read more…]