Jesus is identified in the first four chapters of Luke’s Gospel: He is the “son of the Most High,” the “ruler of the house of Jacob,” “Savior” and promised one from the Old Testament. From chapter four through part of chapter nine, Luke provides proof for Jesus’ identity with a list of astounding miracles performed by him.
In chapter 6, we have Luke’s version of the “Sermon on the Mount.” His differs somewhat from Matthew’s, and we might be tempted to wonder: “who got it right?” There is, however, no need. Though there is much similar material here, there are enough differences to understand that they are not accounts of the same event.
As Luke presents this core teaching of Jesus, we note that it has much more to do with physical circumstances. In Luke Jesus addresses the “poor” and the “hungry,” not the “poor in spirit” or those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” He has harsh words for the rich and powerful: “Woe to you who are rich. You’ve got all you are getting.” He calls his hearers to care about the poor, giving to them knowing that God will return the gift abundantly. Even our loans to the poor should be given as gifts. All of this brings out what will be a central theme of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 9 – 19: God’s concern for the poor, the needy, the marginalized. In our world, we are urged to rise out of whatever circumstances cause us to live in these categories. But Jesus calls us to minister to them. In fact, we cannot be said to be his disciples if we are not actively concerned for them.