But I say to you who hear… (27)
In Luke’s version of ‘the Sermon on the Mount’ (Matt 5-7) Jesus is on a level place (17). Those who have visited the site where this sermon is commemorated today will have no difficulty reconciling the two accounts.
It is indeed on the side of a mountain (in NZ it would be a hillside), but on a plateau which makes a natural amphitheater. The acoustics are perfect for addressing a great multitude (17).
Having contrasted the New Covenant with the Old in terms of quality of taste (5.33-39), affirmed his authority as covenant-mediator (6.1-11, 18-19), and appointed the twelve apostles (the New Covenant equivalent of the 12 tribal leaders of Israel, see Matt 19.28), Jesus goes on to describe the flavour of the New Covenant.
He begins by contrasting the present age with the age to come. The coming, or heavenly age, will be a time of complete reversal, when God will put wrongs to rights and reward those who have been true disciples of the Son of Man (20-23).
Don’t be misled by modern notions of ‘heavenly’. The heavenly age will come when God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. It will begin when Jesus returns to this world as both ruler and judge. Hence there are both blessings and woes (24-26).
The new wine of Jesus’ kingdom is implicitly contrasted with the old wine of the Mosaic Covenant. Both seek God’s righteousness, which alone can reconcile the world to God, but only the New Covenant can deliver it. It is a righteousness which stems from the heart, a heart surrendered completely to Christ himself (43-49).
Renewed hearts result from coming to Christ, hearing his words, and doing them (47). One or two out of the three is not enough. Those who only pay lip service are no better off than those who do not hear at all (49).
Which of the four blessings and four woes speak most loudly to you?
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have spoken so clearly through your Son Jesus Christ; help me not only to come to Him, and to listen to His words, but to do them. I ask it in His name. Amen
Michael Hewat is currently serving as the Senior Minister at West Hamilton Community Church, New Zealand
Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash