Each of the woes which Jesus now proclaims is the converse of one of the blessings we looked at in Luke 6:20-23.
“But woe to you who are rich,
For you have received your consolation.
The word “consolation” used here is παράκλησις paraklēsis. It comes from the same root as παράκλητος paraklētos which Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit who He said would come to His disciples in John 14:16. The picture here is that those who are rich, and rely on their riches will have only their riches to aid them when trouble comes to their lives here on earth, and they will receive no consolation, comfort, or aid whatsoever in the life to come because they will not have Him to be their advocate as believers do.
As we have seen, Jesus doesn’t say that it is impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of God – just difficult. As He told His disciples when He gave them this teaching, “…with God all things are possible.” It is not the riches themselves which make it so difficult, but rather the tendency of the rich to rely upon their riches rather than salvation in Christ. Nevertheless, the woe Jesus pronounces here is daunting indeed.
Woe to you who are full,
For you shall hunger.
As with the corresponding blessing, the hunger and fullness Jesus is speaking of here is spiritual rather than physical. Just as the hungry Jesus blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, so those who are spiritually satisfied in this world are those who regard the rampant sin around us as “no big deal.” Those who allow habits of sin to sear their consciences so that they become hardened to it instead of hungering for something better, shall suffer eternally, having been judged in their sin apart from Christ, and then cast into outer darkness away from any source of comfort and light.
Woe to you who laugh now,
For you shall mourn and weep.
With this woe, Jesus is not saying we shouldn’t laugh. On the contrary. Recall Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees who asked Him why His disciples were celebrating instead of fasting…
34And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.”
Remember, too, Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Or as he said to the Romans…
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
As we move through the days of our lives, there will be times of laughter, and times of sorrow. As Solomon said…
Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4
1To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
4A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
The laughing Jesus speaks of here is scoffing laughter at the expense of another, or in denying God Himself! With this woe, Jesus reminds us just as Peter does that judgment is coming for those who turn from His Gospel.
2 Peter 3:1-9
1Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
The woe of weeping that Jesus proclaims here is not for those who rejoice with laughing throughout their lives in Christ, and at their deaths are instantly ushered into His very presence. It is for those who squandered their opportunity and laughed sarcastically upon hearing the Gospel, and rejected it to their eternal sorrow…
“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
Just as those who are hated by men for the sake of Jesus’ Name and Gospel will enter into the kingdom of God in the company of the righteous and faithful messengers of God who have gone before them, so shall those who proclaim a gospel or a secular lifestyle apart from Jesus’ atonement for and forgiveness of sin be cast out from the kingdom along with the false prophets who have gone before them.
How very relevant this warning is for those teachers today who are praised by society when they preach a false gospel of tolerance and inclusion without mentioning the need for salvation from sin through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, or Jesus’ deity and claim to be the exclusive means by whom men may be saved…
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
2 Timothy 4:1-5
1I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.