Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 6
Thesis: Refusing to allow need to surface keeps the solution from ever being granted.
Introduction: We have been considering Jesus' declarations about the links that exist between the temporal situations of life and the consequent eternal inevitabilities. The Bible is adamant that there is both a temporal down-line consequence to all actions taken and an eternal down-line consequence. It is a fact that, because of the deficiency of wisdom in man, coupled to his corruption at the Love and Faith levels, there is no one who either significantly grasps this adamantine reality or can trace it out from cause to result.
However, the words of Jesus were spoken in order that something of an understanding might at least begin to settle into the hearts and minds of men. The problem is that the words of Jesus are so contrary to every man's way of looking at life that the compounded foolishness of fallen man is barely helped by what Jesus said. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor, but you will seldom, if ever, see anyone seek poverty as a genuine good. Jesus said that those who were hungry would be satisfied, but you seldom, if ever, see anyone push away from the table because hunger is a beneficial reality. Jesus said that those who weep would have the last laugh, but you seldom, if ever, see anyone embracing tears because having the last laugh is to be greatly desired. Jesus said that being significantly mistreated by others for His sake would result in phenomenal heavenly rejoicing, but it is more than typical to see people mistreating others and doing whatever they have to do to keep from being so mistreated. So, the words of Jesus, being designed to impart wisdom and understanding, fall upon mostly deaf ears.
For this cause, Jesus turned right around, having declared the Truth in a highly positive way, and declared the same Truth in an enormously negative way.
This morning we are going to begin to look into Jesus' "negativism".
November 4, 2007
- I. What Does "Woe" Really Mean?
- A. If we consider the way it is used in the biblical text, one thing becomes very clear: it signals an approaching circumstance that will be significantly destructive.
- 1. Every person has his/her own set of parameters that define "significantly destructive".
- 2. Since Jesus preceded His statements of "Woe" with declarations of "Blessedness" that encompass most people's parameters of "significantly destructive" concepts, one has to wonder what "Woe" ends up meaning [if being poor and hungry and tearful and despised does not lead to "woe", what does "woe" really mean?].
- B. If we consider the way it is used by Jesus in this text, one thing becomes very clear: the realm of "woe" is not in what men can do to each other.
- 1. Jesus deliberately set His statements of blessing and woe into the context of the Kingdom of God and the issue of reward in Heaven.
- 2. There are at least three major issues involved in "Woe".
- a. The first is the degree to which God is "blessedly" involved.
- 1) Men can do significantly destructive things to one another.
- 2) But men cannot determine, limit, or undo, the things which God actively inserts into their own circumstances.
- 3) Thus, one issue of "Woe" is the question of whether God will be involved in an active mitigation of the evil of man.
- b. The second is the duration of God's active mitigation of that evil.
- 1) "Woe" is not set in the context of a brief span of time (thus Jesus' focus upon the Kingdom and Heaven).
- 2) "Woe" is set in the context of God's absolute withdrawal from involvement with men in terms of "good".
- 3) Thus, the second issue of "Woe" is the question of whether God's involvement is short term or not.
- c. The third is the active imposition of disaster by God quite apart from men.
- 1) "Woe" is not ultimately what men can, or cannot, do.
- 2) "Woe" is altogether wrapped up in a One-on-one reality in which God dumps the full measure of His own violent wrath upon those who set themselves to "get their own way" (the old "Give me liberty, or give me death" finality).
- 3) Thus, the third issue of "Woe" is the question of whether one is going to be subject to the Justice of God because of bowed-neck rebellion.
- II. What Does "Woe to You Who Are Rich" Mean?
- A. First, this is a return to what we called "Jesus' use of the economic metaphor".
- 1. Clearly, economic considerations are not the real "bottom line": there are examples of the wealthy who are to be received into the Kingdom of God with a reward in Heaven, and only the most naive believe that God accepts people just because they are materially poor.
- 2. But, just as clearly, Jesus did not pull the economic metaphor into place on a baseless whim that actually signifies nothing.
- a. There is a very potent link between a person's economic status and the attitudes which he/she takes.
- 1) A denial of this potency erases any reason for Jesus' appeal to the metaphor.
- 2) The potency is entirely negative: there is not one good thing about the link that exists between economic status and attitude.
- 3) The fact is, this potency must be fought every day in every way if it is to be neutralized.
- b. What is that link?
- 1) It is the lie that there is any real link between "Life" and "material abundance" or, the alternative statement of the same lie that "Death" and "poverty" are in any kind of real association.
- 2) Attitudes arise from conclusions drawn about what is True, so that the "link" is directly a Truth/Lie issue.
- B. Second, the declaration has probably been completely misunderstood, first by the translators, and then by all those influenced by them.
- 1. The translators tell us that Jesus said the "Woe" was caused by the fact that the rich "have received their consolation".
- 2. There are multiple problems with this translation.
- a. First, Jesus described the rich in terms of something that was on-going, not a one-time thing (the verb is a present indicative active, not an aorist).
- b. Second, the word translated "received" is not typical for the idea of "obtaining" a possession; rather, it carries the idea of actually putting some distance between the person and the possession [the word is used to describe distances between two cities, or between a person and a place].
- c. Third, Luke's use of the word "consolation" is always used by him in respect to the issue of God's ministry to men for their deliverance and benefit [it was actually used as a title for the Christ in Simeon's case in Luke 2].
- 3. The most likely translation is "they are holding themselves at a distance from the deliverance which God would give them."
- 4. Thus, the "Woe" involves people who, because of their belief in the lie that material issues have any/some/much impact upon whether they experience the Life of God, or not, actually prevent God's benefit from ever being theirs.
- a. This has its initial phase in the prostitution of material things into the satisfaction of "needs" that are, by that, buried and never allowed to surface.
- b. Then, it has its condemnation-production in the final phase where, because they would not allow their need to surface in all of its reality, they would never turn to God to have that need met...they put distance between themselves and their consolation.