We first look at the call of the twelve disciples, and the fact that Jesus had to pray the whole night to make sure that his choosing them was due to the will of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, we see the time and place of the Sermon on the Mount, and also explain a seemingly apparent contradiction. Talking about the words, “power was coming from Him”, how do we interpret it? Thirdly, we can see that the Gospels of Luke and Matthew talk about the same event of the Sermon on the Mount, with many chapters talking about it in the latter. So, we’ll examine and explain first the three issues in common to both Gospels in the Beatitudes. Fourthly, we’ll do the same for the rest of the five which are only mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew. Fifthly and lastly, we discuss the woes in the Gospel of Luke. Associated with it, we also use one example to illustrate the big difference between seeing things in the aspect of humans and in the aspect of God.
1. The call of the twelve disciples
In Luke 6:12-16, it says, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
We can see that Jesus as a man on earth had to pray the whole night to make sure that will of the Holy Spirit really wanted Him to choose these twelve disciples. Particularly, He wanted to make sure that the traitor Judas Iscariot was among them. The names of the twelve disciples also appears in Matthew 10:2-4 and Mark 3:13-19. If you compare the three, you know that Judas the son of James was also called Thaddaeus.
2. The time and place of the Sermon on the Mount
In Luke 6:17-19, it says, “Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.” Then we look at what in Luke 7:1-2, it says, “When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die.” We know that the Gospel of Luke is written according to chronological order, thus we know that the event of the Sermon on the Mount happened in between these two events.
Now we examine the time of the Sermon on the Mount mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 5:1-12, it says, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” …” After many words in several chapters, we see in Matthew 8:5-6 it says, “And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.”” Therefore, the event happened in the Gospel of Matthew has the same period of time as that in the Gospel of Luke, and should refer to the same event. Therefore, we should choose its union. In other words, as long as one of them is fulfilled, it is ok. For the common issues, they should be consistent because they are based upon the same fact.
In this case, we can see a seemly apparent contradiction. In the Gospel of Luke, it says in Luke 6:17, “Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people …” And in Matthew 5:1, it says, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.” We regard that this is the same event. Then, what happened? Up to the mountain or down from the mountain? It looks like a seemingly apparent contradiction. Let us examine what happened in detail. Take a look at the Gospel of Luke first. In Luke 6:12-13, it says, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.” Jesus went alone to the mountain to pray. So, when day came, He had to go down the mountain to call His disciples to Him. And “Jesus came down with them…”(Luke 6:17) At this time, He saw a large crowd, “…He went up on the mountain …”(Matthew 5:1) “…and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people…”(Luke 6:17) “…and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.”(Matthew 5:1) With this observation, there is no contradiction at all. So, the Sermon of the Mount happened on that level place described in Luke 6:17.
Here, we want to discuss one verse in Luke 6:19, “And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.” We discussed before that although Jesus took the likeness of man and was a complete man at that period, He was also a complete God. But He never used His Godhead at that period. How can we perceive the words, “power was coming from Him?” Let us take a look at the verse in John 3:34, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.” If Jesus used His Godhead during the period of Word becoming flesh, it is not necessary to give Him the Spirit at all since He can do everything Himself. Thus, we can realize that the power came from the Spirit Who was given to Him without measure.
Some people may have similar experiences. God can use them as a channel, and power came from them. Because “…we have this treasure (the aboding Holy Spirit) in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”(2 Corinthians 4:7) “…but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”(Romans 8:13) In Romans 8:29 it is said clearly, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” If we can be like Jesus to empty ourselves, how can the power not come from the aboding Holy Spirit? But remember. The absolute authority lies on the hand of God. It is up to Him when the time should be. Because “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”(Ecclesiastes 3:1）
3. Three issues of the Beatitudes described the Gospel of Luke
In Luke 6:20-21, it says, “And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Then it follows in Luke 6:22-23, “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.” Similar to these words are given in Matthew 5:11-12. This paragraph is pretty clear, and we’ll not further discuss it.
Now we take a look the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-10 to compare with that in Luke 6:20-21, “”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.””
In Luke 6:20, it says, “…Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” And in Matthew 5:3, it says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” So, those are poor are the poor in spirit. If a person knows that he is poor in spirit, how can he not be humble in front of God and the others? How can the kingdom of heaven not be his? In Luke 6:21, it says, “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. …” And in Matthew 5:6, it says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” So, the people who hunger are those who thirst in righteousness, how can they not be satisfied? (ref. Matthew 7:7-8) The remainder of Luke 6:21 says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” And in Matthew 5:10, it says, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Those who have been prosecuted should be the ones who weep, but they will be joyful since the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Isn’t it what said in Acts 5:41? “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
4. The rest of the five in Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew
In Matthew 5:4, it says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” How can some people who are humble not mourn for themselves and thus repent? As said in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thus, they shall be comforted. In Matthew 5:5, it says, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” Those who are gentle are referred to as humble persons. Being humble is really important. Jesus said Himself, “…for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”(Matthew 11:29) We want to be conformed to the image of Jesus, how is it possible if a person isn’t humble? As discussed before, being proud is a big sin which is hard to deal with. Like what was said in 1 John 2:16, “…the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, …” It is among the reasons that Eve was seduced as said in Genesis 3:6, “When the woman saw that …the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; …” Aren’t the self-righteousness of Job and the counting of the number of people by David due to being proud? Some people may say that there always remains a little of being proud no matter what one does. Is it so? Not according to the Bible. When God involved Himself like what happened to Job and David, we need to work with God actively. Job knew himself better once he learned the facts God asked him. And David asked for a penalty himself. After those, the Bible doesn’t mention their being proud anymore, and says that they died full of days. (ref. 1 Chronicles 29:28, Job 42:17) Of course, there are other examples in the Bible. Yes, God can help us to get rid of being proud. But remember again, God has absolute authority and everything has its appointed time. Humans indeed can be proud to the extent that one doesn’t realize that he is being proud, if we are not careful enough. Here, it emphasizes again the importance of being humble. And we see that they shall inherit the earth.
The next is in Matthew 5:7, it says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Due to the grace of God, this is naturally true. But you have to be merciful to others first as said similarly in Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Particularly, if some people think that there is no fault in his part, it is very difficult to first apologize for his fault. If you are moved to apologize first in this situation, the Holy Spirit will let you know where your fault is even though you don’t perceive it at first. If no such a thing happens, you can conclude that you are fooled by the servants of Satan because the Holy Spirit will not to ask you to lie. You need to repent in front of God. You need to discern since even supernatural things are not necessary coming from God as depicted clearly in the beginning of the Book of Job. So, the teaching that one has to apologize first no matter what is not true. Unfortunately, sometimes we need to know after the fact to decide if it came from God and we don’t know how long we should wait. But to apologize for wrong attitudes is always correct.
Although if the Holy Spirit wants you to know ahead of time, you’ll know for sure. In this case, you can know from the accomplishment of the event know that it is true. Normally, we wouldn’t know ahead in order to face our true self. The event of Hezekiah that he showed everything among his treasuries to them is an example. (ref. 2 Kings 20:12-15) But the Bible also has a different example about knowing ahead like what given in 1 Kings 14:5, “Now the Lord had said to Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. You shall say thus and thus to her, for it will be when she arrives that she will pretend to be another woman.”” In the New Testament, didn’t Jesus prophesied that Peter “…by what kind of death he would glorify God. …”(John 21:19)
Talkin about what in Matthew 5:8, it says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” As said in 1 Peter 1:22, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.” A person is pure in heart. He has the Agape love. And thus, he fervently loves his brothers and sisters in Christ. He shall see God. Lastly in Matthew 5:9 it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Although this is said clearly, if one wants to be called the son of God and tries to be a peacemaker, the motivation is wrong and can be utilized by enemy. Remember, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”(Proverbs 4:23)
5. The woes in the Gospel of Luke
Jesus is a doer and He did whatever He taught. And He also gave us a warning in Luke 6:24-26, which says, “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”
Several examples in these verses basically talk about the same thing. Please don’t think that you feel comfortable in your point of view means that you are rich. Looking at things in the aspect of human and in the aspect of God can be very different. The situation in the church of Laodicea mentioned in Revelation 3:17-18 is well illustrated this point. “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”
We really need to see things in the aspect of God. The Bible is inspired by God. Thus, looking at things in the aspect of the Bible is to see things in the aspect of God. But it isn’t vice versa. Because God is infinite, and the words in the Bible is finite. Jonn in the Gospel of John specifically said how he chose the material in John 20:31, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” Therefore, to looking at things in the aspect of the Bible and the God are not equivalent.
The examples of feeling well-fed and laugh merely indicate the difference between looking at things in the aspect of human and God. To see things in the aspect of human, aren’t those fake prophets all men-pleasers? But God knows that they are fake. We need to discern as said in Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” How to become mature? As said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” Life can only come from God. What we need to do is “Do not quench the Spirit.”(Thessalonians 5:19)
(Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)
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