The sermon on the plain

SERMON TOPIC: The sermon on the plain

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 2 December 2018


Sermon synopsis: But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:24-26)

We previously looked at the Beatitudes, which are a set of teachings by Jesus from his famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.
We will now look at a similar teaching recorded by Luke. This is not necessarily the same occasion as it seems to occur in a plain, not on a mount, unless the “level place” referred to was on the mountainside where he spent the previous night praying.
While there are similarities in the two sermons, there are also some notable differences in particular the corollary “Woe to” section.

- Download notes (3.08 MB, 591 downloads)

- Download audio (10.50 MB, 782 downloads)
- All sermons by Gavin Paynter

- All sermons on BEATITUDES

- All sermons on FINANCES

- All sermons on LUKE

- All sermons in ENGLISH



(PART 4)

The Beatitudes are a set of teachings by Jesus from his famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.

The term ‘beatitude’ comes from the Latin adjective ‘beatus’ which means happy, fortunate or blissful.

The Greek word used in the Beatitudes for ‘blessed’ is ‘makarios’ which means: supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off - blessed, happy.

According to the People’s New Testament:

The word blessed is first applied to God, and means more than happy, as it has sometimes been translated. Happiness comes from earthly things; blessedness comes from God.


Matt 5:1-12 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.


Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”



Luke 6:12-23 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountain-side to pray, and spent the night praying to God… He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. Looking at his disciples, he said:

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

We previously looked at the Beatitudes, which are a set of teachings by Jesus from his famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.

We will now look at a similar teaching recorded by Luke. This is not necessarily the same occasion as it seems to occur in a plain, not on a mount, unless the “level place” referred to was on the mountainside where he spent the previous night praying.

While there are similarities in the two sermons, there are also some notable differences in particular the corollary “Woe to” section.


The content and the context of the sermon are strikingly similar to the “Sermon on the Mount” that comprises Matthew chapters 5-7. The similarities are striking enough that many commentators see these passages as reporting the same event, though others note that Jesus often preaches similar material on more than one occasion and that they could well be two similar sermons at different times. The fact that both Gospels place the discourse right before the healing of the centurion, however, seems to give much greater weight to the view that they are the same sermon… Still, the Gospels are often not strictly chronological, and one need not insist that the sermons reported by Matthew and Luke are indeed the same sermon. 1

1 Luke Wayne "https:// what-is-the-sermon-on-the-plain">https:// what-is-the-sermon-on-the-plain


The Sermon on the Plain begins with a series of Beatitudes or statements of blessing. The blessings, however, are all upon the sort of people one would tend to think least to be blessed, such as the hungry, the grieving, and those who are hated and treated ill (Luke 6:20-22). Such are told to be glad, indeed to “leap for joy,” not because the suffering itself is good, but because their reward will be great in heaven, with the encouraging reminder that the prophets themselves suffered these same things. (Luke 6:23). Luke reports these blessings more plainly and straightforwardly than Matthew does in the Sermon on the Mount (simply “poor” rather than “poor in spirit” and “hunger” rather than “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” for example). 1

1 Ibid.


But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:24-26)

Luke 6:20-21a Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.”

Because some equate this with the sermon on the Mount (in Matthew) they think that Luke is shortening Jesus’ statement “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.

But in context he is talking about poverty, because he contrasts it with a statement, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” (v 24-25a)


Jesus repeatedly says things that go against the prosperity teaching. Despite the fact that prosperity teachers says that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and poverty a sign of his curse, in Luke 16 Jesus assigns the wealthy man to hell and the poor beggar, Lazarus, to paradise. Now while the rich man certainly didn’t go to hell because he was rich (he was stingy and had no care for the poor), Jesus is breaking the stereotypes that people make equating riches with godliness. And Lazarus certainly didn’t go to paradise because he was poor, again the stereotype - that the poor are under God’s curse - is broken by Jesus.

And here in this sermon, Jesus again says the complete opposite of the teaching of the prosperity gospel. He says “Blessed are you who are poor” and “woe to you who are rich”.


Steve Kimes is a Mennonite pastor in Portland. Kimes practices what he preaches, much to the chagrin of his neighbours, Gresham city leaders and even some fellow pastors. Once homeless himself, he’s spent almost two decades feeding, clothing and comforting the homeless in East County. 1

1 "https:// homeless/ 2015/ 09/ steve_kimes_lives_his_faith.html">https:// homeless/ 2015/ 09/ steve_kimes_lives_his_faith.html


Kimes equates the Matthew 5 and Luke 6 sermons and writes of the “poor in spirit” term:

Now I wonder if Jesus wasn’t inviting those who are not poor to be “poor in spirit,” in the same way I might say to someone who has invited me to a wedding I am unable to attend that I will “be there in spirit.” I’ve come to wonder if Jesus is offering us an opportunity to be one with the poor even if we are not, to stand with the poor even if we are not poor ourselves, to be with the poor even when we have to journey to get there. There is a way that the kingdom of heaven can belong to the rich as well as the poor. It is by being in solidarity with, in spirit with, in alliance with the poor. The term “poor” is connected to the Hebrew term “anawim”, which means poor or outcast who have faith in God. 


 The other place that the phrase “poor in spirit” is used in Scripture is Proverbs 16:19— “Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” This passage speaks of people who remain with the outcast or rejected of society, and so remain humble. Like Lazarus in Jesus’ parable in Luke 19, those who inherit the kingdom of God, the blessing of God, are those who are rejected and suffer in this life. Suffering both because of poverty and because of persecution. This poverty or rejection might be chosen (‘in spirit’) or not chosen, but it is an act of faith, a method of pursuing God and being just. Thus, this could be translated, “How lucky are you who associate with the outcast, for God will reward you for your suffering.” 1

1 "https:// What-did-Jesus-mean-in-the-first-beatitude-Blessed-are-the-poor-in-spirit-for-theirs-is-the-kingdom-of-heaven">https://



We learn from Balaam in the Old Testament that God’s blessings are sure and irrevocable (Num 23:19-20).


God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

We are blessed when we put the Lord first. We read of the Levites:

Ex 32:29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

We are blessed when we obey God. When the Israelites obey God to the letter in constructing the tabernacle:

Ex 39:43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded. So Moses blessed them.


We are blessed when we associate with those who have God’s favour. When God blesses a man, even those who are in close association with him are blessed. Consider those who employed God’s people:

Jacob says to Laban:

Gen 30:30 “The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been.”

And because of Potiphar’s association with Joseph:

Gen 39:5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.



Now the Old Covenant blessings were generally related to earthly financial and economic prosperity (crops and livestock), health, the fruit of the womb (i.e. offspring), military prowess and political peace. Moses tells Israel:

Deut 28:1-13 “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock - the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.” 


 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you.


 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity - in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground - in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you. The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”

These are wonderful material promises, but they are part of the Old Covenant and do not apply to New Covenant believers!


In the case of a will, only the Last Will and Testament is of legal merit. You cannot base a claim on a will and testament that is superseded by a more recent one.


Thus the prosperity teaching, which draws primarily from the Old Testament, is an invalid line of argument for New Covenant Christians to be making.

These same people who attempt to claim the blessings of Deut 28 are not circumcised, eat bacon, and do not keep the Sabbath or religious festivals. Yet they want to lay claim to promises made in a previous covenant to Israel (not the Gentiles).

While the Old Testament still has merit, the New Covenant always supersedes it. This is what the point the author of Hebrews articulates:

Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.


If you feel the blessings of Deut 28 apply to you, I’d suggest you read the previous chapters and make you are keeping all the terms of the agreement (covenant).

Furthermore these blessings were accompanied by corresponding curses for those who were in breach of the covenant. And Paul writes:

Gal 3:10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”


But we have a New and better covenant, whereby we have been redeemed from the curse of the Law.

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

You are more blessed if you are in the covenant of grace.

Rom 4:6-8 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”


We are also told that the New Covenant we have is far superior than the Old Covenant, because it is based on superior spiritual promises, rather than inferior material ones.

Heb 8:6-7 But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.


The Beatitudes are expressed as eight blessings. Each consists of two parts:

A condition: “BLESSED ARE…”

The promise: “THEY WILL…” or “THEIRS IS…”

They are the manifesto of the kingdom of God, but unlike a worldly kingdom, there are totally different values:

Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of Christian ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction; they echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality and compassion. 1

1 Wikipedia – Beatitudes "http:// wiki/ Beatitudes">http:// wiki/ Beatitudes


So these New Covenant blessings Jesus lists in the Beatitudes are clearly spiritual blessings:

The kingdom of heaven will be yours

You will be comforted when you mourn

You will be filled (with the righteousness you hunger and thirst for)

You will be shown mercy

You will see God

You will be called a child of God

You will receive a great reward in heaven


The worldly value system does not consider the meek, those who mourn, the poor in spirit and the persecuted to be blessed.

This is because often people in these categories do not have material and worldly blessing.

But Jesus promises them spiritual blessings which are of eternal value and don’t just offer a temporary short-term benefit.






The poor

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven


The hungry

They will be satisfied


Those who weep

The will laugh


Those who are hated, excluded, insulted and rejected because of Jesus

Great is their reward in heaven

Consider those that Jesus says are blessed in the Sermon on the Plain.


Luke also includes a counter list of woes on those who are well fed, laughing now, and spoken well of (Luke 6:24-26) which Matthew did not include. The thrust of the passage, however, is the same. Jesus is explaining that God's blessing for those who follow Him will often mean suffering now, but glory and comfort in the Kingdom to come. Those who seek their comfort and pleasure in this life here and now may appear to be blessed, but in fact, they are to be pitied because in the age to come they will find nothing but weeping, suffering, and want. 1

1 Ibid.


There are some who try and apply the Old Covenant earthly blessings and promises made to Israel, to the church (replacement theology). But in the New Covenant the blessings are not earthly and material, but instead spiritual blessings:

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

In context, the New Covenant blessings subsequently listed by Paul do not sound reminiscent of the earthly material blessings promised to Israel in the Old Covenant:


Righteousness and sanctification

Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

Spiritual Adoption

Eph 1:5-6 In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.


Spiritual redemption

Eph 1:7-8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.


Knowledge of his divine plan

Eph 1:9-10 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Vessels that bring praise to God

Eph 1:11-12 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.


Assurance of salvation through the Holy Spirit and a guaranteed future inheritance.

Eph 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of his glory.


Do you want to be blessed (with spiritual blessings)?

There are other blessings promised in Scripture. Let’s look at some of them.

You are blessed if you have faith in what God has promised you.

Gal 3:8-9 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.


Because of her faith in the promise of being the mother to our Messiah, Elizabeth tells Mary, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)


And Jesus tells Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

You are blessed if you openly confess divine revelation.

Matt 16:16-17 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

You are blessed if you are not offended at Jesus or question God.

Matt 11:6 “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Some people question God when things go wrong, unlike Job who in severe trouble and sickness says “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21, NASB)


You are blessed if you treat Israel well. God told Abraham:

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen 12:3)

You are blessed if you heed the prophetic Word.

Rev 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

Rev 22:7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”


You will be blessed if you are ready for the Lord’s coming. And so the return of Jesus is called our “blessed hope”.

Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Rev 16:15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Rev 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

Rev 19:9 … “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”


Those who are part of the first resurrection (i.e. the dead in Christ and those who are raptured) are blessed. They will rule with Christ:

Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

The Tribulation saints are blessed.

Rev 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.”


You are blessed if you endeavour not to stumble the weak, you edify your brothers, keep peace where possible, and don’t destroy the work of God.

Rom 14:19-22 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.


Some people like to be blessed by receiving things. But Jesus says you are more blessed if you are able to give to others.

Acts 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Luke 14:12-14 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”


You are blessed if you serve others rather than seeking to be served. We see that after Jesus had committed an act of service to those who were his subordinates, he says:


Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. [John 13:14-17]

Do not only hear the Word but understand and obey it.

Luke 11:27-28 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Jesus tells his disciples that the difference between receiving God’s blessing or not - is not in hearing the Word, but in understanding and obeying it:

Matt 13:13,16 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand… But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”


James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does.


NOTE 3: By Adam Bishop (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http:// licenses/ by-sa/ 3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (

PDF sermon