One of the old songs we used to sing quite often was “Make Me a Blessing.” Do you remember it? The chorus often still gets stuck in my head. I remember it sounding something like a calliope on an old merry-go-round.
Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.
As Jesus continues his “Sermon on the Plain” in Luke 6, he turns to a series of blessings. But there’s a problem. These blessings don’t look much like blessings!
“Blessed you who are poor.” Really, Jesus? “Blessed are you who hunger now?” But we’re hungry, Jesus! “Blessed are you who weep now?” Why on earth would Jesus call such people blessed?
Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” provides similar blessings, but Luke is unique in that he also includes a series of “woes.” Hear the word “woe” clearly. This is not a command to a horse to stop, nor is it a casual declaration of discomfort. Had our Bibles not been translated by polite folk, Luke 6:24-26 would likely read:
Damn you, rich people! You have received your consolation!
Damn you, full people! For you shall be hungry!
Damn you, laughers! For you shall mourn and weep!
Damn you when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets!
Rich, well-fed, laughing and loved. What’s damnable about that? It sounds like blessings to us. However, Jesus turns the standards of blessings and cursings upside down and points to the unfortunate as the favored. But why? Why are they blessed?
He calls them blessed because he calls us to bless them!
There’s a reason we sang “Make Me a Blessing” for so many years. There are people in our lives who are blessed, but no one has told them they are blessed; no one has treated them like they are blessed. Jesus’ call is not simply to recognize but to be his blessings.