Sometimes I have much more in common with the Pharisees than with Jesus. In the first 11 verses of Luke 6 it is apparent that they like having control, calling the shots and operating their little kingdoms off of their rules. They like predictability; their religion essentially serves them, not God and certainly not others. If ruthlessly honest, I can relate. Jesus clears the game board of their lives and introduces an entirely different order, one that is wild and holy and offers a view of life never seen before.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12
I get the sense that Jesus is doing something much more than working off a prayer list. I imagine that this night long prayer vigil is a time of abiding, submitting, talking to the Father about events behind and before him. I imagine great joy and peace flowing back and forth between the Father and Son. Somehow, God imparts to Jesus the energy necessary to make key decisions and meet the innumerable needs of the people he loves. I want this kind of love for God.
From this time of prayer, Jesus steps into the crowd with compassion, power and healing. It’s interesting that the scripture notes that Jesus “is looking at his disciples.” He directly addresses them as he delivers the blessings and woes lesson. He contrasts the lives of the poor to that of the Pharisees and tells them not to envy the Pharisee’s wealth and affluence, their well appointed tables and comfortable lives. Instead, he speaks of a way of life the Pharisees will never know. The kingdom of God is enjoyed in poverty; they will be satisfied, not left hungry and always wanting for more. They will know great joy in the midst of great sorrow. There will be rejoicing in spite of persecution, because they know the Son of God.
There is abundant life if I leave Pharisee ways; when I turn from manipulation, judgement, self justification and a tightly controlled, comfortable little world, Jesus delivers something altogether wonderful- the Kingdom of God. I pray that God shows me what that means today, moment by moment.