Here is Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount. There are some differences in this set of Beatitudes. Matthew adds more descriptor words to Jesus’ sayings. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Matthew’s list of blessings also goes on longer. Luke’s is less spiritual and more practical.
20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Does the act of simply having no resources mean that God will automatically grant you the Kingdom of God? I don’t think so. But it does tell us that God sees our circumstances. God sees the poor, and God cares for those who lack and for those who are oppressed. God looks upon the kingdoms of men, the unjust allocation of resources whether by government fiat, corporatism, or capitalism and recognizes that injustice. God offers and promises the poor a better kingdom and nation where they will receive His blessings.
For those of us who are not on the edge of poverty, it is also a statement that these people should not be invisible to us. Those who struggle are sons of Adam, created in the image of God, and we should do what we can to help them.
Each blessing is also paired with a statement of woe by Christ, and the woe for this one is upon the rich.
24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.
Those who are benefiting from the current system, whether by luck of birth, ruthlessness, greed, fraud, fiat, or good business acumen are also witnessed by God, and will be held accountable for how they conducted their business and how much they considered the poor.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.
God sees those who hunger. Their cries are heard by Him. Their lack of provision is not unnoticed by Him. They too are always in His sight. And how does a good and just God feel towards the systems of man which fail in their duties to provide for the hungry? How does God feel towards those that carry His name who fail in their duty to provide what they can?
25 Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.
Those so insulated and so wrapped up within themselves and their own needs, who have no care for the needs of their brothers or their fellow man, will find themselves impoverished when the Kingdom comes. Their souls will be lean. They will have cut themselves off from their fellow man and from God.
And they will never be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
God sees the brokenhearted. Every tear that falls. Every cry to the heavens. Christ Himself screamed at the heavens as to why the Father had forsaken Him. The Lord has a place in His kingdom for those that mourn and cry, where they will finally know joy and be comforted.
So too, we are called as agents of that kingdom to comfort those in distress. Those in mourning. Those in dire circumstances. We are called to notice them. To treat them as family. To love them as the Lord of the kingdom loves them.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Those who ignore their fellow man in this life, will find themselves bereft of the companionship of others in the next. And they will know the sorrow of separation and loss.
22 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. 23 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.
Okay, first off, the phrase “for the sake of the Son of Man” is important. It’s a qualifying clause. You can’t run around being a jerk and then praise God when other people point out what a jerk you are and call that persecution.
It’s not persecution if people simply disagree with you and fight for their own beliefs.
To review, what persecution is, I’d suggest reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Or look at the history of the Apostles. They were exiled. They were slandered as evil doers. They were beaten. They were imprisoned. They were killed.
Or you could read Paul’s summary of his own life:
23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
God sees what happens to His disciples. God will reward those who live a life of integrity and suffer for it.
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
The qualifier here is ‘all’. The bible elsewhere encourages disciples to try their best to live peacefully with all men. Again, your goal is not through your own behavior to inspire some people to hate you. Your goal is to live a life of goodness, compassion, and integrity.
It may so happen that in doing so, some people will respond poorly to your example. When that happens, first of all, examine your own conduct to see if you have done something to offend them. If not, pray for them and continue treating them with integrity, compassion, and kindness, trusting in God to change their minds and to take of you.