Jesus Speaks An Unnatural Truth
Sometimes the truth is unnatural. And there are truths in our lives like that, aren’t there? Take, for example skiing. If you’re looking down a steep slope, common sense and gravity would teach you that you need to stand up straight, or else you’ll fall down the mountain. But when you’re skiing, the opposite is true. When you’re skiing down that mountainside your balance and focus is down the hill. And if your balance and focus is not down the mountain, then you’ll fall. It’s the truth. But at first, is seems unnatural to us. And the same is true in our every day life. Jesus speaks to us the truth. But often it is an unnatural truth. We have an amazing example of this in Luke 6: “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.” (Luke 6:17–21 NIV11-GKE)
Look at what we see here in these words. This is what life looks like after the fall into sin. People are poor. People pine away for food. People are sad. People are diseased. And all of those are effects of the fall into sin. And if we ask the question, “how does Jesus speak to us,” notice the first answer: Jesus comforts the afflicted. But how he does this is amazing. For he speaks to us truths that seem unnatural to us. When it comes to pain, hunger, sadness, and disease, one of the conclusions that we can so very easily reach is that, if Jesus loves us, he will give us joy instead of pain. But here, in these words, notice how he speaks. Jesus promises to give us joy amidst pain, not joy instead of pain. Our life right here and right now is not ‘your best life now.’ Instead, it’s your best life in heaven. What hope these words give to us. When we are sad or sick, diseased or despairing, we know that Jesus is in control and the same Savior who saved us from our sins will also preserve our lives.
Jesus comforts the afflicted with an un-natural truth. He gives us the promise of joy amidst pain instead of joy instead of pain. But he also gives us another promise. As soon as Jesus creates faith in our hearts, we yearn to speak the truth of what God’s word says. But what happens when we do this is that we speak the truth in love, and then the world around us shuts us down and condemns us. They make fun of us, insult us, and get angry at us. And we make the common sense conclusion that what we are doing is wrong. Instead of sharing our joy, we shut it in and keep it secret. But then Jesus comforts us with this amazing unnatural truth. We might conclude that it’s better to say nothing than to say something and be persecuted. But what does Jesus say? We read: ““Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” (Luke 6:23 NIV11-GKE)
What an unnatural way to speak. Rejoice? Leap for joy? Look at the pictures that Jesus uses. Look at that phrase, “leap for joy.” I’ve married a sizable number of couples over the years. And I remember years ago a wedding I had. And the bride had invited her sister to be a bridesmaid. And the sister whom she had not seen in a long time showed up. And the proper bride with proper decorum lost all of that. She leaped for joy and ran out and gave her sister a huge hug. That’s the word that Jesus uses her. But notice how unnatural the context. When we speak the truth in love and are persecuted, they we leap in joy. Why is it that we are able to do this? For that’s the same way they treated the Godly prophets in the past. Ahah! There’s the joy. When we face persecutions because of our faith we recognize and realize that there’s nothing new under the sun. We stand in a long line of people who were persecuted because of the truth.
So my friends, when you say that you believe in the Triune God and are persecuted, then rejoice. When you say that you believe that all of God’s word is true and are persecuted, then laugh. When you say that God created us as male and female and are despised, then be content. When you say that baptism saves and are made fun of, then jump for joy. For they treated the prophets the same way.
Jesus speaks an unnatural truth. He comforts us with the unnatural promises of joy amidst pain and joy amidst persecution. But, as these words continue, Jesus speaks in an entirely different way. We read: “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.” (Luke 6:24–26 NIV11-GKE)
Jesus speaks an unnatural truth. First, he comforts the afflicted. But second, he afflicts the comfortable. A good friend of mine has a dog. And when the snow came down in the winter night, what did the dog want to do? More than anything, the dog wanted to go out and play in the back yard in the snow. So my friend let the dog out. And after about 5 minutes there was the dog, staring in the patio door window. So he let the dog in. And then, as soon as the dog is inside, what does the dog want to do? The dog wants to go back outside into the darkness. Isn’t the same true with us. Jesus frees us from pain and persecution, and what do we do? We forget about him. Jesus frees from our sin. And what do we conclude? We conclude that he freed us for our sins. And Jesus shares with un an unnatural truth. He afflicts the comfortable. If you think that your full belly and full bank account gives you the right to forget Jesus and reading, learning, studying and growing in God’s word, then you can have your joy here on earth, but not hereafter in heaven.
So, my dear friends in Christ, what do we do with all this? First, we confess our sins. We confess the times we wanted to find joy instead of pain, instead of how Jesus says our life here is going to be: joy amidst pain. We confess the times we wanted to be let into the light and then, just as soon as we were brought into the light, we ran out into the darkness. And our Savior Jesus is faithful and forgiving. He forgives us and watches over us. He shares with us this unnatural truth: He gives us joy amidst pain. And he gives us joy amidst persecution. Amen.