Study Guide

Gospel of Luke Poverty

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The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. (NRSV 4:18-19)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (KJV 4:18-19)

Jesus reads this quote from Isaiah 61:1-2 and then tells people it's talking about him. Speaking of which, you know Hamlet? That's actually about Shmoop.

Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. (NRSV 6:20-21)

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. (KJV 6:20-21)

So much for that windfall we've all dreamed of. In Jesus's God-powered version of happiness, the poor will come out on top. For more on this, check out our discussion of "The Beatitudes."

Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. (NRSV 7:22)

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. (KJV 7:22)

Jesus is busy completing the work he promised he was going to do in 4:18-19. According to Luke, what do all these different people have in common?

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (NRSV 14:13-14)

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (KJV 14:13-14)

That'll be quite a dinner party. Relatives and rich neighbors are supposed to be snubbed in favor of all of the local social outcasts. Sound controversial? Check out our discussion of "Current Hot-Button Issues and Cultural Debates" for more.

Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.' (NRSV 14:21)

Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. (KJV 14:21)

Everyone is too busy to attend the master's lavish dinner party, so the poor get an invite. How convenient for Jesus's parable.

And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. (NRSV 16:20-22)

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. (KJV 16:20-22)

Beatitudes too abstract for you? How about some concrete discussion of what it's like to be poor? Answer: not good. Until you die, that is.

Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. (NRSV 18:22)

[…] sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (KJV 18:22)

Sure, God will compensate the poor for their miseries in the future, but Jesus also wants people in the here and now to do something.

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." (NRSV 19:8)

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. (KJV 19:8)

Being rich didn't really pay off for Zacchaeus, and now he's trying to backpedal.

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on." (NRSV 21:1-4)

And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. (KJV 21:1-4)

Jesus, the Mathlete. And you know, in terms of proportion, he's got a point. And people say religion and logic don't mix.

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