Lord of the Sabbath 1-5
The Jewish keeping of the Sabbath day was a mark of a believer in the God of the Old Testament. For the Pharisees it was near to the top of the list of pharisaic ventures. As in other laws of the Old Testament the Pharisees had their own rigid requirements and definitions of the law.
Even the appearance of working on the Sabbath was to be avoided. They had drawn up a list of things that they considered work. The disciples had run afoul of this list by plucking grain and rubbing it in their hands. To the Pharisees this was harvesting and threshing the grain.
Jesus had kept the Sabbath but only as the Old Testament had intended it to be kept. (Luke 4:16) But Jesus made no effort to conform to the rigid rules of the Pharisees. Jesus referred the Pharisees who complained about the disciples harvesting gran on the Sabbath to an example of David. At a time when David was desperately hungry he broke the law by eating the bread of the Presence. Jesus’ reasoning was that if David could do this how much more could the son of David? Jesus did not use the title but it seems to be His point.
Doing Good on the Sabbath 6-11
In the Gospel of Mark includes the saying of Jesus, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) Luke did not record these words but makes the same point.
Jesus knowing what the Pharisees were thinking did not wait for them to complain. Jesus took the offensive and put the Pharisees on the spot. According to the Pharisees healing on the Sabbath was wrong unless there was a life threat. The man that Jesus healed was not in this type of a situation. The Pharisees thought the healing should be put off until the Sabbath was over. Jesus called and man with a withered hand to His side.
In the tradition of the Pharisees treatment of emergency cases was allowed. They could not argue against saving a life on the Sabbath. Jesus took this principle and applied a broader interpretation to helping a man rather than harming. Jesus stated His question in such a way that they could not answer His question. Jesus asked them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” Therefore Jesus healed the man. The Pharisees had focused their attention upon the negatives of what they could not do on the Sabbath where Jesus had focused on the positives of what can be done on the Sabbath.
The purpose of the Sabbath was to give man a day of rest from his labor. The Sabbath was God’s law for the good of humanity. Any rules made by man that thwarts the purpose of God deserves to be treated by Jesus as He treated the tradition about not healing on the Sabbath. Doing good works is always in season.
This incident caused the Pharisees to be more than critics of Jesus but to become enemies.
Discipleship a Way of Life 6:12-49
In this section of Luke Jesus selects His closest followers and instructs them as His disciples. In verses 20-49 the verses is what is sometimes called the Sermon on the Plain. This Sermon is very similar to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Both the Sermon on the Plain and the Sermon of the Mount are some of Jesus’ most important teachings of how His disciples should live.
Sometimes we hear people say, “My religion is the Sermon on the Mount,” or “I don’t need religion, I just follow the Golden Rule.” Such a person overlooks an important fact of Jesus’ moral teachings. The teachings of Jesus were given to His disciples. He knew that they were committed to Him and to His way. The Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule are not simple ethical guidelines for the man on the street but are demanding principles for the committed followers of Jesus.
Call to Special Service 12-19
Luke stresses that Jesus spent the night in prayer before choosing His twelve disciples. By choosing twelve Jesus is signifying the creation of the new Israel. The twelve Apostles corresponded to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Disciples means learners or followers. Jesus chose the twelve from a larger group of disciples. In Mark 3:14 we read, “And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach.” The word Apostle means messenger sent under the authority of another. The word Apostles was used later of those who Jesus sent out to witness of His resurrection. The twelve disciple formed the core of these witnesses. Because of the betrayal of Judas another disciple was chosen.
Things Not as they Seem 20-26
To be blessed is to be happy, to be a fortunate one. Jesus called the poor, hungry, sad, and the persecuted as blessed. Jesus also pronounced woes of the counterparts as rich, well-fed, merry, and the popular.
This list is the opposite of our list of the fortunate. Jesus turned everything upside down from the world to make a point that the Kingdom of God is the ultimate good. The ones who are in poverty, who hunger, or in distress makes them blessed because they are open to God’s reign in their lives. Those who’s commitment to God’s will are blessed because they arouse the anger of the evil doers.
By the same token woe to the wealthy, those of a full stomach, or of a carefree life because they are blind to their need for the good news of the Kingdom. And woe to those who crave popularity so that they do not take the risk of commitment of serving God and His way.
Love your Enemies 27-30
Love is at the very heart of the teachings of Jesus. The following verses are important in understanding what He means. Jesus means more than a sentimental feeling. A definition of an enemy is someone we do not feel good about. If we were to wait until we like our enemies, then we will never love our enemies. Jesus presents love as an action and not an emotion. No matter how we feel towards our enemies we are to act for their good and on their behalf. Jesus defined love for our enemies this way. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Often we find that our feeling towards our enemies will change as we do good for them, bless them, and pray for them. But the feelings will follow the actions, not the actions following the feelings. To love our enemies we cannot wait for our feelings before doing good to them.
It is our enemies that have hurt us in some way. The natural reaction is to get back at them in retaliation. Jesus teaches that we should absorb the hurt without seeking retaliation and give them back good for evil.
This very same principle applies to more than our enemies. Three of the four examples that Jesus provides apply to possessions. In each of the cases Jesus advocates giving and not grasping.
We cannot always practice the four examples in verses 29-30 literally. The point of each must be taken seriously. No list of specific applications can fit every situation that Christian love needs to be practiced. In some situations we may not be able to turn the other cheek or give more than the person is asking for. This passage does not express the whole of Christian love but Jesus is stressing the heart of Christian love. The Christian is to do good to others at the risk or cost to one’s self.
The Golden Rule 31
The Golden Rule sums up the main point. This is not a rule that is reactive but pre-active. The Christian is to take the initiative. The Christian is to do good unto others that he would appreciate done unto him in return. The Christian is the light, the leader in the arena not the follower.
God’s Kind of Love 32-36
People who are evil will do evil things no matter how others treat them. They will always give back evil for evil, and evil for good. The normal person gives evil for evil and good for good. Jesus is teaching us that we are to give good for good and good for evil. This is the way of God’s love. There is nothing special in liking people who like us. This is how most people act. Jesus is calling us to God’s kind of love. Those who display God’s kind of love will be recognized as the sons of God.
Good in its Best Sense 37-42
Some religious people have been described as “good in the worst sense of the word.” People who are concerned about doing right are tempted to become rigid and judgmental. In these verses Jesus is describing people who are good in the best sense of the word.
Good people of the best sense avoid the temptation to judge the sins of others. They practice a forgiving spirit. And they are generous towards others. In life we will reap what we sow. What one gives in life is what he will receive back from life. The one who constantly criticizes opens himself up to criticism. The merciful person will receive mercy. The generous will receive as freely as they give.
The blind are not able to lead the blind as they will lead the person astray. Pupils tend to become as their teachers. This context may be in reference to teachers or leaders who can see the faults of others but cannot see their own sin.
For an example of this Jesus uses irony and humor. The person who pays great attention to the faults of others is often blind to the sins of his own life. The rule here should be to be ever aware of our own sins. This would keep us aware of our great need for God’s grace. There is not a better antidote for false pride and a spirit of being judgmental. At the same time we can forgive other because we have experienced the forgiveness of God. (Ephesians 4:32)
The Fruit Test 43-45
The character of a person is revealed by what that person does and says. Trees are known by their fruit. In the same way people reveal their inner attitude and values by their actions and words.
The Obedience Test 46-49
There are many who call Jesus Lord but they are not really His unless they do what He tells them to do. (John 14:15) What they profess to be should match what the show themselves to be. This could be the greatest indictment against Christians. Our daily walk often undercuts what we profess to be.
The difference between two kind’s people is not a failure to hear. They both know what Jesus would want them to do. The difference between the two is that one hears and obeys and the other does not obey.
Love in Action
One of the purposes of Jesus was to overcome evil with love not with the sword. In Luke 6:27-36 we see that Jesus taught love by his words and now in Luke 7:1 through 8:3 Jesus will teach love through His deeds. Jesus responds to the faith of a Gentile centurion by healing his servant. (7:1-10) Jesus restores the life of a widow’s son. (7:11-17) When John the Baptist was perplexed by His ministry Jesus responded by telling of His ministry of help and healing. (7:18-35) And Jesus included among His followers a number of women. (8:1-3)