What does Jesus mean by his ‘woes’ in Luke 6:25?


I would like to know what this verse means: ‘Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.‘ (Luke 6:25).


In this text Jesus was pointing to those who used their wealth for self-indulgence, for the gratification of the senses. They were proudly self-satisfied, and felt the need of nothing, especially nothing spiritual. They needed neither to repent nor be forgiven, a trait common among the Pharisees in the time of our Lord. To such He had nothing to offer.

Since Jesus was speaking these words only about four decades ahead of the fall of Jerusalem when the city with its beautiful temple and houses would be reduced to a heap of shapeless rubble, and the rich and poor alike be ruined, when the hunger and mourning and weeping would be terribly real in the national war with Rome–He may have spoken these words prophetically.

The preceding verse has some of the same thought: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation” (verse 24). Jesus sometimes used the word “rich” to refer to good social position. As in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, He referred to the rich man as getting his “good things” in his lifetime, while Lazarus did not; then in the great afterward, the rich man was in dire want and Lazarus was satisfied. But aside from this point, the prophets and apostles never ceased to warn of the danger of misusing temporal resources–they can be instruments to condemn the owner, or they can be nobly used as gifts of God to bring eternal rewards.