Summary: Jesus begins his Sermon on the Plain by declaring some people to be “blessed” and speaking “woe” to others. He declares that he will bring satisfaction to those who are poor, hungry, grieving, and suffering ostracism. On the other side, he warns those who are wealthy, well fed, joyful, and respected by their communities that something is wrong. Their perceived advantages and security are illusory, because he is at work elsewhere. Jesus then goes on to urge people to practice love and nonretaliation. On the whole, he is speaking about a new society or a new state of affairs that his ministry inaugurates. He promises to create a new community that operates with a different set of values. In this community, Jesus lifts up those who suffer deprivation and calls others to practice solidarity with them.
I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage, particularly to celebrate All Saints Day. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.