Today: [Luke 6] The Practical Teachings of Jesus: In chapter 6 Jesus gives us practical applications of His doctrine regarding everyday situations we all face. These teachings are well known to us and even among those who do not believe in Christ, but are they being implemented? Many lives are wrecked and brought to ruin, Jesus informs us because while we heard what He was saying we didn’t follow through to apply His doctrine to our daily lives.
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[Luk 6:1-23 KJV]
1 And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing [them] in [their] hands. 2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? 3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; 4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? 5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. 6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. 9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy [it]? 10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. 12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called [unto him] his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas [the brother] of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. 17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; 18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed [them] all. 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed [be ye] poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed [are ye] that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed [are ye] that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and shall reproach [you], and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward [is] great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Chapter 6 begins with Jesus leading his disciples through some corn fields and the Pharisees are offended because they are plucking ears and eating on the Sabbath. The law allowed for strangers to glean in a farmer’s field but not on the Sabbath because it was considered work and was therefore forbidden on the Lord’s day. I remember a time when it was a crisis of conscience for a sincere Christian to take a job that required them to work on Sunday. Over the last many decades due to the nature of our economy, the American labor force is working more hours for less money than it did twenty years ago, and working any hours and any days the employer requires is a fact of life. In this instance, Jesus’ followers are not gleaning for an employer but for themselves and while this offended the Pharisees Jesus simply reminds them of the time that David violated the law by asking the priest to give him showbread which was only for the priests. The lesson was that man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath was made for man and that Jesus, as the Son of Man had the authority to alter and interpret the law of Moses as He willed.
In verse 12 Jesus leaves the crowd following him and goes into a mountain to pray all night to God. We find out the next day why He did this when He calls out from among His followers the 12 whom He named apostles. The term apostle is very interesting because at the time it was not a religious term but a governmental term. The only “apostles” the disciples would have been familiar with were Roman leaders who were in charge of the empire’s occupation of their nation. An apostle was a military statesman who was part conqueror, part diplomat, who was in charge of all the affairs relating to the invasion and occupation of conquered lands. This “apostollos” was in charge of a group of military men and civil servants that were brought in with him to take over running local government and collecting taxes from the vanquished people, in this case the Jews. The civil servants who worked for the Roman apostollos were called “publicans”, a much hated group of people. This body of soldiers and government functionaries as group were called an “ekklessia”. All of these terms Jesus used to describe who He was, who His followers were, and what He was building, not a placid, contemplative group of religious followers, but a conquering force bent on occupying and administrating the affairs of life among the peoples where they went conquering and to conquer.
After calling the 12 to Him, Jesus gathers them and delivers the sermon on the plain, which is a parallel of the sermon on the Mount with a great multitude of people present. This tells us that Jesus delivered the same messages more than once to different groups of people. The message was one of blessing, encouragement and comfort. He realizes that those who came to Him were the marginalized of society, who were suffering and overlooked. His message was one that proclaimed change was at hand, and things were going to be different in such a way as to bring great blessing and rejoicing to those who had no hope of things ever being any different.
Luk 6:24-49 KJV]
24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. 27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the [one] cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not [to take thy] coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask [them] not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend [to them] of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. 43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. 46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
In verse 24 Jesus repudiates the rich. Is this because Jesus saw riches as intrinsically evil? This isn’t likely because Paul declared that Jesus, although He was rich, became poor for us so that we likewise could be rich:
[2Co 8:9 KJV] 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
This is not just natural riches, but it does include natural riches because the context of 2 Cor. 9 is a teaching concerning money. The repudiation Jesus gives the rich is because in this culture, much of the wealth of those who amassed wealth came on the backs of mistreatment of the poor, which was address many times by the prophets and cited as one of the primary reasons why God allowed the people of God to go into captivity to the Babylonians. Today teachers and leaders will insist that God is not at all interested in our prosperity or in natural wealth and that such things cheapen the gospel. This is a perversion of the gospel that is disingenuous, because the very people that teach these things are not volunteering to be among those so blessed. The blessings of God are not just eternal, something we receive in heaven. The blessings over God include temporal things as well as reward in heaven.
Jesus goes on in verse 26 to warn against seeking the good opinion of others. He actually says that being well liked can be a sign of not doing what God has called you to do. Nonetheless, when you are reviled Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and to do good to those that hate us. We are to bless those that curse us, pray for those that despitefully use us. If we are smitten (or attacked) we are not to defend ourselves or to retaliate in kind. If someone takes something from us by deceit we are to offer up freely what they left behind. To those that ask of us we are to give freely and those who take away our provisions by whatever means we are not to seek them again. We are to regard and to treat others as we would have them to treat and regard us.
Why would Jesus give us these instructions? Because they are the responses rooted in love. Love never fails, Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 13:8. Why would we ever do anything but follow these mandates, if a step out of love is a step into failure. Let us be clear: Jesus is not proposing we live lives of victimhood, because Jesus Himself never presented that as a picture of how He Himself lived and loved. He is speaking to fallen men in a fallen world. The law of seedtime and harvest is in effect that was intended to bless us but because of sin is one of the primary channels through which heartache and suffering fall upon our lives. If we are going to overcome in these areas, we must ascend above and master the law of sowing and reaping by the higher law of walking in love. Love never fails. If we choose to walk in love, there may be times we have to let go of resentment and retaliation but at the end of the matter God will see to it that we are recompensed, for as verse 36 tells us, if we choose to be merciful, we will inherit and be recipients of the mercy of God. If we choose not to show mercy but demand our due then we will suffer the same even though every provision has been made for our clemency and blessing in the shed blood of the Cross.
In verse 37, Jesus tells us to judge not and not to condemn if we hope not to be condemned or judged ourselves. That word judge means “to be of an opinion”. As believers we must learn not to have an opinion about everything and everybody. That is very difficult in a society that believes they have an inalienable right to have an opinion about everything and everybody. A great majority of what passes to us in the form of Christian teaching in our pulpits is nothing more than religious opinion. Our mandate from the savior, regardless of what we think our rights are, is to choose to have no opinion and to choose not to condemn others. The word condemn in verse 37 means that we are not to pronounce others guilty. That doesn’t mean we approve of everything and everybody. Guilt exists. Sin exists but it is not our role to articulate or to pronounce guilt. We are as the verse concludes, to forgive, if we hope to be forgiven. Do we only forgive the penitent? That isn’t what Jesus says. These statements in verse 37 are blanket statements without caveats or conditions. We are to refrain from having an opinion about anything or anybody, we are to refuse to pronounce another’s guilt whether we like it or not, we are to forgive if we ever hope to be forgiven. The message is clear – if we choose to be opinionated, we will suffer the consequences. If we pronounce other’s guilt, our own guilt will be the crushing burden of our lives. If we do not forgive, we suspend the clemency of God provided for us by our own small mindedness and refusal to forgive others.
In verse 38 Jesus says that we are to be givers. God so loved the world that He gave. We reflect His nature when we likewise give. Many people say that it is wrong to give in expectation of being blessed for doing so. This sounds spiritual to religious minded people, but it is in direct defiance to the clear teachings of Jesus. Jesus tells us if we give, it will be given to us good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over God will cause MEN to give back to us. Notice that it isn’t God giving us reward after we get to heaven. Jesus is talking about reward and increase that God will cause MEN to give us. Regardless what your station is in life you can be a giver. You may be on a fixed income or working for an ungrateful employer who doesn’t appreciate you. You may be in very difficult circumstances financially but no matter what your situation is, if you give you will be blessed in return.
This is God’s plan for your financial fitness and increase – be a giver and the scripture would have to be a total lie if you would not in turn be recompensed and increased beyond all your expectations.
In verses 41-45 Jesus warns us against being so full of ourselves that we think we can rightly correct others. He clearly warns us not to be too observant of what we think others are doing wrong. It is the great shortcoming of Christian culture to be judgmental and condemnatory of others. We are to be loving and accepting, not because transgression does not exist, but because God has so loved us when we were yet in our sins that we should likewise be resistant to the temptation to find fault in others. The corrupt tree that Jesus speaks of in verse 43 is the leader, or preacher or Christian who is characterized as one who “tells it like it is” and “steps on people’s toes” which unfortunately are qualities that are held in high regard in the church in spite of the fact that Jesus clearly describes these as traits of men and women who are in fact corrupt trees good for nothing but to be hewn down and cast into the fire.
In verse 46, Jesus sees that His listeners are being polite, but not accepting what He is saying. He sees clearly that they have no intention of following His teachings are challenges them with the question “why call Me Lord, if you are not going to do what I say?” It is no different today. We read these things and affirm that they are high sounding ethics that we should all aspire to, but in reality, there is very little reflection in our lives regarding what Jesus is teaching here. Jesus tells us in conclusion that the storms of life will destroy the person who hears only and does not do according to what He teaches us in His doctrine.
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